Title: Spirit’s End
Author: Rachel Aaron
Series: The Spirit’s World **This is book five. Spoilers for the previous books abound.**
Nutshell: Eli Monpress gave up his freedom to save the people he loved, but Benehime isn’t about to be satisfied with that sacrifice. She requires everything from him, and she shows him the plan she has designed for the two of them. Pushed to the breaking point, Eli finally pushes back, and Benehime flings him onto the mercies of the Council of Thrones. Eli is locked summarily into Sara’s very best wizard-proof cell. With his father. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Alber Whitefall is using him as leverage against Josef.
But that’s trivial compared to what Miranda is facing. Something is causing massive panic among the spirits across the world, and with Banage in prison, it falls to her to fix things. She knows where to find answers, but she might not get them quickly enough to do anything but watch the world end.
Eli Monpress isn’t trying to be a hero. So why do people keep expecting him to save the world?
This book is so satisfying. Everything about the ending is perfect, with Rachel Aaron’s signature follow-through on her big promises. Things that seemed like entertaining, off-the-cuff details in the first book have expanded into game-changing plot points. Everything the characters have faced points up to the final moments of the book.
That’s really vague, but I don’t want to ruin a single delicious moment of surprise or awe or horror or admiration.
Her chemist’s style of character interaction is still quite present.Mrs. Aaron doesn’t just rely on the familiar interactions, she pulls the relationships in the book apart and forces the characters to deal with other personalities. The push and pull between the familiar characters I know and the new combinations was exquisite. We’ve seen Eli with his friends, and we’ve seen him with his allies (Miranda and Slorn, mostly) but now he gets to spend some good quality time with his parents, who we’ve also seen a great deal of. Miranda is used to bullying Eli into line, but now she faces the Spiritualist Court and the Lord of Storms, which are much less cooperative entities. Nico faces the Demon of Dead Mountain. And Josef… Well, Josef doesn’t really do people.
The world built up at the perfect pace, too. I got details and secrets frequently enough to keep me happy, but there were still bits concealed to pull me along all the way until the end. This, again, has built from the first book, from the first time anyone said, “Wizards can command spirits but cannot see them. So weird. Why are things this way?”
The ending of a series is a very delicate thing, and this one could have fallen quite easily into Deus Ex Machina or “message.” It did neither. I’m glad. I would hate to have to tell you to stop at book four. (Don’t stop at book four.)
The way the Shepherdess acted was actually one of my favorite things. I’m really drawn to the very mercurial women. They have this internal consistency that’s so skewed. It’s like her moral compass always points west.
Nico is another of my favorite characters. In a book full of people tossed about by things beyond their ken, in a world where mind control is really trendy, (Have any of you noticed how popular mind control is right now?) Nico’s internal arc of pure self-control is compelling and refreshing. Especially since Nico was another of those details that I thought at the beginning was thrown in half-fledged. She’s fully fledged, now, and soars.
The whole book soars.