“Full Circle:” Book 6 of the “Artesans of Albia” Epic

Standing as it does as the third book in a series and the sixth book in this nine-volume epic, we do not expect “Full Circle” to be just another stand-alone novel. In fact, if we regard the three-book series as a single unit, the expected climax takes place at the end of the fifth book, and the first half of this final book is mostly concerned with the denouement of the series, wrapping up the loose ends and giving emotional catharsis and closure to the whole six-book epic.

At this crucial juncture, then, we are not surprised that this is the most emotionally powerful of any of them. The highs are higher, the lows are lower, and the scenes stretch these emotions for longer in true epic fashion.

Which is not to say that the story doesn’t have its own plot and climax. It is a standard novelist’s technique to slip in just one more climax after we think everything has been solved. Give the villain one more kick at causing disaster. Remind the readers that “happily ever after” is only for fairy tales.

So just when we think that the conflict is over we discover that, through Cas Peace’s clever planning of the whole series, all of the villain’s actions in the previous two books could have a completely innocent explanation. Of course the reader knows better, but the people of Albia don’t. So when the oily Baron Reen comes to trial, aided by the treacherous Queen Sofira, his logic piles upon logic, and the accusations of our heroes seem weak. Combined with the political wiles of the anti-Adept, anti-Andaryon faction and the delicate state of the king’s mind, this brings the threat of further disaster upon the realm.

Intertwined with this tension is the resolution of Sullyan’s problems with her husband, Robin, who is beginning to realize just how stupid he has been but still refuses to acknowledge it even to himself, thus keeping both of them in terrible torment as the date approaches for their son to be delivered.

And just to add to the suspense, we must remember that Sullyan’s mother died while bearing her and that Sullyan is in no state, emotionally or physically, for the ordeal of childbirth, unaided by her powers. As her strength fades and her will to live sputters, the action moves into the metaphysical plane for the resolution of a conflict the roots of which go back to the beginning of her life.

In all these factors bring this novel to a high pitch of emotion on its own, and the catharsis of the finale can only be termed exhausting.

So I am in the strange situation of giving a five-star review to a novel that is, as you may have gathered, not quite to my personal taste. This rating is based on my acknowledgement of the skill of the writing and my expectation that fans of this series will find the story exceptionally satisfying.

I’m going to be really interested to see where Cas Peace takes us in Book Seven.

Highly recommended for fans of this series and those who like their Epic Fantasy on the Romantic side.

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