Blackveil is the first time Kristen Britain has ended a book on a cliffhanger. Oh sure, there have been unresolved plots and subplots in the first three books, but those still ended on a note of closure as our characters take some time away from starring in the story. Time passes between books, such as two years between Green Rider and First Rider’s Call and a season or so between that and The High King’s Tomb. But Blackveil‘s final scene is a definite cliffhanger.
The forest of Blackveil has been a presence from the second book onward. It is the peninsula which was once the Eletian land of Argenthyne, which Mornhavon the Black conquered and renamed Mornhavonia. Here the essence of Alessandros del Mornhavon was sealed away for a thousand years…and here he changed almost everything in his domain. But that’s getting a bit ahead of ourselves.
Most of Blackveil takes place outside said forest, in Sacoridia. We have more preparation for the King’s wedding, more dealing with many new Green Riders…and many answers about Karigan’s family. Who was Kariny Gray, Karigan’s mother? And what does Stevic say when his daughter confronts him about what she learned last book? One of these two answers is much more plot-related than the other…at this time. We also get to meet Karigan’s aunts, figures who’ve been rather nebulous up until this point. I still can’t tell you anything about them (or how many there are) beyond Stace, but they’re not exactly important characters (at this point in time).
Of course things change when Eletians show up in Sacor City again. (Also what is it with fantasy books and elves and chocolate? Never mind….) Among other things, they declare their intent to head into Blackveil Forest, and they invite King Zachary to send his own delegation alongside. For the title of the book, we don’t actually spend more than a third or so in the place. And it does continually cut away to the wall, or the castle, etc.
But unlike previous ventures into the forest, this is far more intense and encompassing. And I play my own special game of “spot the redshirt.” Because, really, when everything in the forest has evolved into a far deadlier version of itself thanks to Mornhavon’s influence, you know people are going to die. It simply remains to be seen which ones survive and how long they last. That’s not even getting into the political aspects of the journey, and those definitely do exist.
The deeper we delve into the Green Rider series, the more legends come to life. It’s not just the mortal/immortal aspect, though some of the Eletians definitely remind me of Lord Elrond of Rivendell, but there’s also the understanding of what is possible. Some things, even those whose memories are forever cannot expect because it has never happened before. This is probably, on reflection, why immortal species in most fantasy literature require aid from the mortals to overcome conflicts. It’s not just that we (as mortal humans) enjoy reading about ourselves as heroes. It’s that when you’re accustomed to thinking yourself superior because you have an infallible memory and an eternity to hone it, you believe that the answers to all your problems lie in your past experiences. So a situation that neither you nor any immortal you know has encountered is challenging and taxing and may require an entirely different mindset to solve.
I honestly didn’t expect to finish Blackveil tonight. Not that this is a bad thing, merely unexpected. It does put me that much closer to the new book…I simply have to get through the next book first.