Warning: This review contains a number of spoilers for the previous parts of The Rifter.
After all the excitement of part five of this serialised novel, which ended on a heart-stopping cliff-hanger, this sixth part seems at first a little, well, dull in comparison. In actual fact that turned out not to be the case, as the quietness of the first few pages soon begins to build in intensity. It's a different feel, both in pace and tone, from the previous 300 pages, and at first I was frustrated at the change of pace because I wanted to know how things would work out for John and Ravishan. As it is, we get to find out some of their story within the memories of Kahlil and Jath’ibaye, some of which were tender reminders of their romance and some which were much darker. It also answered a few questions for me over Jath’ibaye's initial reaction to Kahlil when he sees him in part 2.
The book can be divided roughly into two themes. Firstly there is Kahlil's struggle with the knowledge of who he was and who he is. His changing memories cause him great consternation as does the knowledge that he is both Kahlil, who was sent to Nayeshi and spent years observing John from the coldness of grey space, and also Ravishan, who met John as a young man and fell in love. During the book there is a consolidation and affirmation of those feelings which led to a number of very romantic scenes. My one criticism, or maybe, again, it was more of a frustration, was that I really wanted to know Jath’ibaye's thoughts during the first half of this book. This is possibly because I'd just spent the last 300 pages in John's head and the switch to Kahlil then denied me John's voice. This frustration lessened as the book continued as I settled back into Kahlil's narrative, and also because of some of the events which happen later in the book.
The second theme is that of the coming war between Jath’ibaye's country of Vundomu and the counties of the South ruled by various Gaun'im. The political discussions and the rising tensions added to the interest, but the main attraction for me was in the threat from Fakiri and what he and his Lady are trying to achieve in the Northern lands once occupied by Rashal'pesha. We discover a number of chilling revelations about this and I am now very much anticipating the direction that the story is heading with Fakiri.
In and around these two main themes the author continues to add to the world of Basawar, the character of Jath’ibaye as Rifter, the role of the Kahlil and life at Vundomu. We are introduced to new characters who help and hinder our heroes, and whose allegiances could easily change given a change in circumstance. The development of even minor characters and the way their thoughts and concerns are shown, creates vivid characterisation in even the most minor of roles. It is this masterful showing of character, along with the many thoughtful touches which seek to add even more layers onto the personalities of Kahlil and Jath’ibaye, which leaves me in awe of this author's talent.
I've been deliberately vague in some of my references in this review, simply because I don't want to take away anyone's pleasure by accidentally spoiling this book. Despite its slow start, and my initial frustrations, the way the the plot built, layer upon layer, through the book kept my interest and left me anticipating the coming events. We may be on the downward slope in terms of numbers of books left in this serialisation, but the story is in no way slowing down. Instead we are being pulled inevitably towards both disaster and victory; death and new life. I'm very much looking forward to what is coming in book seven.
You can either buy this sixth part - and then any of the other parts - separately for $3.99 each, or buy the whole book at $29.95 and each month the new part will be sent to you via email. More information about this and the buy now page can be found HERE.