Things are really starting to hot up now in this penultimate part of The Rifter. The story stays with John all the way through as he adapts to his new name of Jath'ibaye and attempts to use his Rifter powers to aid the Fai'daum in their fight. The story opens with John and a small band of Fai'daum rebels who have learned that the Ushiri priests are capturing suspected witches and imprisoning them. Even more horrifying is when it is discovered that the women are being raped in an attempt to increase the numbers of the Ushiri. When the daughter of an influential man is taken, the whole city of Giza is in uproar and John and the Fai'daum take advantage of this to attempt a rescue. Meanwhile, further south Ravishan and Ji are fighting a battle of their own.
There were a couple of things which struck me in particular about part 9. Firstly, the focus of the story has narrowed considerably from part 8. In the previous part the story was busy with rich description and the introduction of many new secondary characters. In this part we focus on John and a small band of Fai'daum rebels, led by Lafi'shir, and there is less in terms of lengthy description of setting and more in terms of dialogue and action. I found this much easier to keep track of who was who as each of the men have distinct personalities and attributes. Each man or pair of men spends a specific amount of time with John so that by the end I felt as though I knew them as well as John does. This also allowed a rather sweet romance sub-plot to strike up between two of the men and provided some much needed emotional relief from some of the heavier violence that permeates this story (I'll talk more on that later). Relief was also found through the camaraderie between the men, which again seeks to bring everything down to a much personal level for John. These are no longer faceless rebels or a huge mass of people living together underground, but rather people who John is growing to respect and like a great deal. I have a feeling this is going to important in the last part of the book.
Secondly, this part is almost non stop action scenes with only a few small quieter scenes to break up the tense and often horrific action. Here we see just what a destructive force is inside John as he, seemingly without thought, kills and maims to reach his own, and the Fai'daum's, goals. John's knowledge that he cannot be killed not only shows him his immortality, but it also makes him less caring of the mortality of others, in particular those who work for the priests or carry out their evil deeds. This is such a great contrast to both the John we see at the beginning of the book and the Jathi'baye from the sections set in the future, that it's a little disconcerting to read. The John here is black and white in his ideas of what constitutes right and wrong and anyone who doesn't fit with his view deserves all they get - even former friends. Having said that, I can see that it is also necessary to see this side of John. For us to understand the Jathi'baye of the future we need to know what led that gentle John from the start of the book to unleash his powers upon Basawar. It's almost frightening to see just how out of control John becomes as this part draws to a close, and yet it is still in keeping with the man we know will do anything to save those he loves.
A word of warning, there's a lot of violence in this part of the book, much of it done to John, and it's rather gruesome in its description in places. Don't let that put you off though because after the quieter and more descriptive foundations laid in part 8, part 9 comes as a whirlwind of action which gripped me from the start. The final part is only a few weeks away and in some ways I'm dreading it. It not only means the end of a book I've thoroughly enjoyed, but it's also going to be quite emotional and perhaps terrible in some of the things that are going to happen. Mostly though, in my mind is a couple of questions: Will John ever get back to Earth and does that even matter now? We shall see.
You can either buy this ninth 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.