The prophecy has come to pass.
The London Stone has been stolen and the Dark King rules the Nowhere. Only Mona and the new Seer dare to stand against him, leading an underground rebellion in the frozen wasteland... but what chance do they have, against both the Army of the Mad and Arnold Mather's soldiers?
There is still hope: if they can recruit a banished race to their cause, maybe Fin and his friends can force a final battle against the Dark King. But that aid will be hard-won, through an almost impossible quest, and even then there are no guarantees.
It will come down to three friends, standing together against all odds. And fulfilling their destinies, whatever the cost...
I loved Sarah Silverwood's The Double-Edged Sword, the first book in her The Nowhere Chronicles trilogy, and it was one of my favourite books of 2010. Its sequel, The Traitor's Gate, was just as enjoyable a read, but when I came to try to review it I found it very difficult to a) say anything that would not spoil the story and b) say anything that didn't just sound like a rehash of my review of the first book. Middle books in trilogies are something I often find difficult to review, as they invariably end on a cliffhanger, with the story far from finished, and The Traitor's Gate was no exception to this. In fact, it left us with multiple cliffhangers, a number of key characters looking as if they were about to shuffle off this mortal coil and more unanswered questions that week's worth of Newsnight politician interviews.
And so I have been waiting impatiently for the final instalment in this thrilling fantasy trilogy, and having finished the book last night I am happy to report that it was well worth the wait. Unfortunately, it is also no easier to review than the previous book, although not because of an unsatisfactory end to the story (far be it - the author finishes her tale brilliantly, although she doesn't pull any punches in doing so and it is certainly not the and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after that some people might prefer). No, it is difficult to review in detail as so much happens in these 300 pages, and to go into detailed explanations would spoil not only this book but also the two that preceded it (just in case you have not yet read them).
I can tell you that before things improve for Fin and those of his friends that remain, things go from bad to much, much worse. Justin Arnold-Mather was nasty enough before he got his hands on some magic, but once he does the power corrupts him completely, and he becomes a vicious dictator who doesn't think twice about killing any citizen of The Nowhere who dares speak out against him. At the end of the second book we saw Fin and Alex Currie-Clarke heading back to the Somewhere, on a mission to track down the traitor in their midst. Unfortunately, what takes place in the Nowhere in their absence is the stuff of which nightmares are made.
In order to defeat Arnold-Mather, Fin will have to first risk his life by crossing West Minster Bridge and into The South, and then face even greater dangers in the Middle of Nothing as he journeys to beg the Magi to help him save. not only the Nowhere, but all the other worlds as well. Meanwhile, Mona, a new Seer and a small handful of Knights are left behind to continue the fight against the Dark King and his followers. Will Fin's journey be worthwhile? Or is he too late to prevent the destruction of the Nowhere and everyone he loves with it?
I have already mentioned that readers should not expect a happy ending for every character, but that is not to say that there are not many moments in this story that will have readers buzzing or even shouting with excitement. One such scene sent a tingle up my spine and I was hit my a wave of joy, and I know that many other readers who have come to love the band of aged Knights will experience something similar when they come to that part of the story.
If you love well-written, intelligent fantasy then you really should get your hands on this trilogy. It is one of those series that is probably even more rewarding when read back-to-back as the story is so rich in detail it took me a little while to pick up where things left off when I read both the second and third books, Fortunately, the author very helpfully includes a 'The story so far' piece to help remind us of the preceding events.
The London Stone is due to be published on 12th July and my thanks go to the nice people at Orion Indigo for sending me a copy to review. Its author, Sarah Silverwood, is better known as Sarah Pinborough, author of a number of adult books, and I hope she return to writing for young adults again sometime in the future.