Sunday, December 11, 2011

Review: The Rifter Part 10: His Holy Bones

Well here it is, finally, the last part of this tremendous serialised novel, The Rifter.  Part ten, as you may imagine, is packed through with action, adventure, love, tragedy, betrayal, ruined hope and ultimately an ending which, although is classed as 'happy' still leaves you with a lot to think about.  All whilst drawing together the strands of the story to a cohesive and satisfying conclusion.

Part ten begins where part nine left off.  Ravishan is injured, possibly fatally, and John divides his time between wanting to be close to Ravishan, and his duties as the newly revealed Rifter.  Some of those duties lie in managing to convince the kahlirash’im, that he is just as much human as he is god whilst also coming to terms with his god-like abilities. Other duties involve repairing the damage that he inflicted on Vundomu as well as dealing practically and emotionally with the knowledge of how many people died when he stormed the tower in order to save Ravishan.  This meant that much of the first part of the book is relatively quiet, showing us the healer and nurturer that John will become as he gets older, and how he can use his abilities for good.  That doesn't mean there isn't action too, as we find out the circumstances which surround Ravishan's death in a scene I found immensely shocking, and which suddenly made John's initial reaction to the appearance of Kahlil in the future make a lot more sense. We also find out what happened to Laurie in Umbhra’ibaye. One thing I've loved about reading this book as a serial is the way that I suddenly get these 'lightbulb' moments about things that I've puzzled over a bit in previous parts of the book.

The second half of this part then moves forward into the future and picks up where we left Kahlil in part seven.  He's been captured by Laurie and is now being held as bait. Kahlil knows that John will come for him and that when John does, Laurie will kill him. Yet he's trapped, unable to move, terribly injured and guarded by Laurie's hungry bones. Rescue is in the form of a complete surprise and I found the remainder of the book a strange mix of heartwarming and heartbreaking. This was especially true for the character of Laurie who I found difficult to figure out in book seven. I couldn't see why she hated John so much, but things become so much clearer here.

Like much of the entire novel, this part focuses on the choices that John makes and the consequences of his actions. John has some difficult choices to make here and has to face the consequences of his past actions. He has strong emotional ties to Laurie, and knows that he has somehow failed her, but he also realises that his reluctance to 'deal' with her in the past has caused the loss of many lives. Even right at the end, when John knows what must be done, he wavers between giving Laurie what she wants and doing what he knows is right. Even I felt some compassion for Laurie at the end, knowing how much she had lost and that it had driven her quite mad. The confrontation between John and Laurie towards the end of this part was filled with much sorrow and recrimination but was also a fitting conclusion to their troubled relationship. It made me quite sad to remember the happy, dippy Laurie from part one and compare her to what she is at the end. Very sad, actually.

John too has come a long way from the College student he was in part one, and even in this last section we are shown how much he has grown, matured and changed in his time in Basawar.  I liked that John has learned strict self control, that his impetuous actions in the past have made him more careful and less likely to fly into a destructive temper. The John we see at the end of the book is a true leader, one who looks to others first before his own needs. I liked him a great deal.

Another thing I really liked about this final part was the way that the present and past were resolved. I'm not going to go too much into specifics because that would spoil things, but the loose thread involving Ravishan in the past and Khalil in the future is brought together in a most pleasing way.

I finished this final part feeling a little bereft that it was all over. The book has brought me so much pleasure over the last 10 months that I'm sorry that it couldn't continue on for a few more months more at least! However, all good things come to an end, and this was a marvellous conclusion to what has been a simply stunning piece of fantasy writing. If you haven't started reading this book yet then I urge you to begin now. It's a long book, yes, but it's a wholly rewarding read.  It's also not an easy read, and definitely not for those of you who are squeamish because some of the violence in the book is quite graphic.  It is a book for those who love dark fantasy and want to read a complex, intricate novel with a huge cast of characters, but which retains at its core a heartfelt romance.

I said in my review of part 1 that I would wait until this last review before I grade the whole book.  Really, though, there is no grade that I can put on this because 5 stars seems so inadequate.  It's definitely worthy of the grade DIK because I shall be re-reading this many times in the future.

Buy this book HERE.

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