I have come to the reluctant conclusion that Michael Flynn may have some trouble with book series. I am an admiring fan of both his standalone novels, including Eifelheim and The Wreck of the River of Stars as well as his short fiction collections, such as Captive Dreams and The Forest of Time and Other Stories. I greatly enjoyed The January Dancer, the first installment in this book's series. But I read each book with decreasing enjoyment with a final, muddled finish. The same thing happened across the four books of the Firestar series.
I am willing to be convinced the fault is my own. Because I really like this author's other work. In case you would like to try to convince me, here are a couple of the things that bothered me.
By this point in the series, there are too many players in whatever game is being played. They are smart, courageous, crafty, and have historical significance to the story. They are also too hard to tell apart and fail to hold my interest. When some of them die, I lose track of which ones. And feel kind of bad about it.
Some of the things that were cool at the beginning have worn out their coolness and begun to grate. Yes, most of the characters are Bruce Lee-level hand-to-hand fighters. Many of them seem a little big-headed about it. Not interesting anymore. The special terminology also drops with lead-balloon impact. I get that there are Hounds, and Magpies, and Names, and whatever else. There's no mystery or intrigue to any of it. Just repetition.
The plot? Donovan, kidnapped, is finally taken to Earth. His daughter Bridget is coming to rescue him, and also to rescue her own kidnapped daughter. A bunch-load of their old friends and enemies are there. Donovan bumbles around the planet, learning some almost interesting things about Earth history. Then there is a big fight at the end. Some die; some don't. Don't ask me for specifics.
I am sorry folks--I really wanted to like this book. But I didn't. I finished it out of a felt duty of completion. You know that Eagles lyric, "Keep on singin' for the sake of the song?" Yeah. If you have come this far, having read the first three books in the series, go ahead and finish. That which you do is best done quickly.
Sorry, Michael. Quite possibly it's not you, it's me. Sorry again.