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Silver and Iron: Sage: Book 3 (Sage Trilogy) Kindle Edition
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I loved the character development over the course of this series. I loved the mythology--Unicorn, Phoenix, Dragon and Turtle eventually ended up some of my favorite characters, in a roundabout way. I most especially loved the resolution, which was absolutely perfect.
If you enjoy The Princess Bride, Michael Sullivan's Riyria books, or any well-written fantasy with heart and soul, you'll enjoy SAGE.
Once again, the language and characterizations are top-notch. I enjoyed seeing the players growing into their futures and watching Turtle, Dragon, Phoenix, and Unicorn making their natures felt as appropriate to their high stations.
The story revealed a satisfying outcome, which delivered a series of thrills possible only from an author at the top of her craft. In short, it repeatedly gave me chills up my back. Thanks to Ms. Allen!
Here is a book, indeed a trilogy with more twists, turns, plot devices, innumerable characters, geographies and ancient codicils than scales on a dragon's back. Yet all comes together at the end, all makes sense, and all is proof that if we follow The Way, whatever the Way is for us, all will be well.
Sage, books 1 and 2 set the stage, and book 3 takes us on a breathtaking journey back to the point at which we set out. Onagros is restored, and in full obeisance to her readers, who have become enamored of her characters by this point, Ms Allen brings certain ones together at the end. Tortoise reveals himself, not as evil consort to a false king and his fatal mother, Oliva, but a benefactor to all, albeit under the name of Tartarus.
From the beginning, when "...a needle passed through the fabric of the world," through another visit with the invincible Zglaria on Wild Ass Island (love the names in this book) to Kinnan/Kenneth's plot to enter the castle keep with Elsie/Ella, the plot builds to the inevitable conflict between Landry's allies and those who would restore Elsie to her rightful place. Along the way we are treated to some of the best and most satisfying work of a writer who has no fear, it seems, to use the language in a way that fits and works. "Bees listened to confessions as the sun went down." Those same bees "hummed, chitted and zizzed." When two characters argue, the tension rises to the point of, "...sound taking the place of thought." (A timely phrase, it seems, in these tense days) An old cook who has the singular curse of always telling truth says, "Truth is a curse." (This, too, fits modern times, else why do we seem to avoid it so?)
Sage Book 3 has the characters from books 1 & 2, the standard colorful, exotic roles one expects in this genre: conniving royalty, banished royalty waiting in the wings, animal characters coming and going as one thing or another, human variers becoming cats, mice, birds and various other critters as befits the plot. Wonderfully whimsical names greet us throughout: Oliva, Corvina, Landry the Kinninger, Trahern, Andrin, Anshar Redhand, Guthrie the Chief Sword, Nerissa, Brady/Rady (possibly the varier in chief). Lumpkin the horse does a cameo appearance, and readers of books 1 & 2 will be pleased that Chandler the hen is back, this time in a starring role!
Book three is not for the faint of heart. There is death herein: Oliva takes her own life, with alicorn, which is fitting. Moder Zglaria seems to be killed by Guthrie, but then reappears. Guthrie himself is slain. But there is redemption, as well, when Darcy learns that the children he believes he killed in book 1 have only been turned into, "...fishes that cannot be caught."
The shortcomings of this book are few. This reader was a bit disappointed that Kenneth and Ella's little acting troupe did not, in fact, perform inside the castle keep, but provoked the insurrection right away. I looked forward to a play within a play scenario, but perhaps I've read too much Shakespeare. The killing is dreadful, though it fits the context. I wondered, however, if certain victims should have stayed dead? It was a bit jarring to see Moder Zglaria reappear, pleased as I was to see her. The E-Book, which is what I read, has a few formatting issues here and there, such as a lack of possessive form in chapter 12 The Kinninger's Sword. Not unusual, as E-Book formatting technology is at times as medieval as fantasy fiction.
Overall a remarkable achievement by a very talented writer who has clearly come into her own. Marian Allen is either a student of this history, or she is herself a varier, come back again from the time of Kinningers and baileys and Unicorns that go bump in the night. Silver and Iron Book 3 is not so much the last book of a trilogy as it is the last panel of a triptych, a true literary artwork that must be savored from one section to the next. If that means a reader must start with Sage book 1 The Fall of Onagros, then read book 2, Bargain with Fate to get to book 3 Silver and Iron, so be it. Trust me, the journey is well worth taking. Readers enamored of Margaret Atwood, Paul Coelho, or Game of Thrones fans, you'll want this entire trilogy.
Byron Edgington, author ofThe Sky Behind Me: A Memoir of Flying & Life
Marian Allen writes in a rich way, with attention for details and respect for life, young and old(er). She's an artist with words, and apart from that, a very nice and kind person.