Reviewing the eighth part of this serialised novel is going to tax my reviewing skills a little! The book itself is the same number of pages as usual (each serial is about 130-150 pages) but this part, more than any other has a focus on setting the scene and consolidating information, rather than there being anything concrete in terms of dramatically furthering the plot. In fact I can probably give you the entire plot of part eight in one sentence: John and Ravishan join the Fai'daum and learn of their ways.
The story picks up straight on from part seven. John and Ravishan are now outlaws, and after being discovered by a band of Fai'daum rebels accompany them to their hideout - a huge city built underground. John uses his time there to try and control his increasingly erratic powers as he trains with Ji. As the part draws to a conclusion the Fai'daum are preparing themselves for battle, and John in particular is hoping to be able to rescue Loshai from Umbhra’ibaye.
As I said earlier, much of this part of the book is used to show the reader the world of the Fai'daum and for us to understand their goals and intentions in waging war on the priests such as those John trained with in Rathal'pesha. We meet characters that we have met before such as Saimura and Ji, but most of the characters in this part are new to us. It seems a strange thing to be introduced to so many new people so late on in the book, but I have a feeling that the key to understanding the future happenings in the book resides with knowing the goals and objectives of the Fai'daum. After all, Jath'ibaye in the future sections of the book allies himself with the Fai'daum and it is here that we see the beginnings of that alliance.
This part also continues to show us the depth of love and attraction felt between John and Ravishan, but also emphasises some of the differences in their temperament. There's a side to Ravishan in this part which aligns more with what we see in Kahlil in the parts set in the future, showing us that they may be on different time lines but are still the same person overall. John's wish for peace wars with the cruelty he experiences in the harsh world of Basawar, and some of the most heartfelt and poignant sections of this book were when John thinks of Nayeshi (or Earth) and longs to return.
An ongoing theme of the sections set in this timeline is that of John's discovery that he is the Rifter and his fight against his powers and his nature. This is given more space to explore here too. John's fear that his power should be discovered and used for ill is ever present, and yet it's becoming increasingly difficult to hide who he is to those who spend much time with him, especially Ravishan. One of my favourite scenes in this part comes towards the end and shows not only John's desire to hide his powers but the increasing suspicion of others towards his ability to heal so quickly. It will be interesting to see how this all comes to a head in the next part.
Above all though, Part eight shows us the depth of imagination of this author. Each time we move to a different setting the wealth of detail amazes me. The underground city of the Fai'daum is shown to us in all its vivid richness. The people, no matter how incidental, are well drawn and realistic. There might not be a lot of action in this section but I was still engrossed in the lives of the Fai'daum and their preparations for war. I get the impression that this eighth part of The Rifter is the deep breath or calm before the storm. All the pieces are slotting into place and I'm looking forward to seeing how everything comes together in the final two parts of the book.
You can either buy this eighth 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.