“So tell me,” I said to Blake Hausladen as he sat down across from me, “where did all the other books come from? The series I know has two books and a novella.” We were in Capricon’s Cafe, a low-key quiet area for small concerts and book readings, one of which Blake had just finished upon the nearby stage. And I desperately wanted to know what I’d been missing. “When you post on Facebook about this being the last of the Vesteal series,” I continued, gesturing to the brick he was signing for me, “there’s a lot more than three covers.”
He laughed and explained. I, being an experienced reader, would note that most books are divided into parts, long sections of about 75 pages up to half the length of the book. For those with e-readers and impatience, those smaller sections have been published individually. Across the whole series there are fifteen in all. In fact, the novella The Silent Rebellion is no more than that first section of the final book of the physical trilogy, The Vastness. He merely thought to put it out on its own as a way to encourage patient readers and draw in new ones.
This explains why The Silent Rebellion is by far the most cohesive portion of the entire series. Like many new authors, Blake writes in first person. The problem is that he utilizes multiple viewpoint characters. Ghosts in the Yew was a little more than I’d prefer, though it only featured four narrators; Barok, Dia, Geart, and Leger. And at least each chapter opens by telling you who’s talking. Although it can be confusing because each chapter also has a subtitle of sorts, listening either what day or passage of days is covered, or what the focus of the chapter will be, whether it be an object, an action, or another person. However, then we move on to Native Silver and our first four narrators are joined by Sikhek, Soma O’Nropeel, and Evand Yentif – nearly doubling the number of perspectives. Then The Silent Rebellion brings in Emi, the last narrator.
In the novella, which I did not read on its own because it is complete within The Vastness, Emi is the only narrator. We see what was happening to the churls (slaves) in Bessradi during the chaotic events of Native Silver‘s climax through her eyes as she discovers her own power. Regardless of the larger world, I do thoroughly enjoy The Silent Rebellion.
But I spent a lot of The Vastness trying to figure out what was going on as Hausladen started breaking the rules of his world. Well, maybe not breaking. Again, the author is going to know more about the underlying rules than the reader. But there are a lot of elements in The Vastness that I question as they seem to come straight out of left field.
First and foremost is, well, the Vastness. I think it’s the ocean…but regardless, it is the third great Spirit, equal in power to the Earth and the Shadow. And while it hasn’t played an active role before now, it seems to be waking as well. Although I have to snort at myself. “Hasn’t played an active role” as in I cannot recall any kind of clues dropped in either preceding novel that indicate a trio instead of a dichotomy. I have to check because some of the aspects of this book I took issue with I really shouldn’t have, as they were laid out in some way previously, even though I chose not to consider them foreshadowing.
Also, everyone is terrible. Seriously, part of The Vastness is no longer being able to trust any character to remain good and worth cheering for. People grow and change over time and become selfish and greedy. And it’s just not fair to them or the reader. So many times I’ve wanted to slap narrators or the people they’re dealing with.
Part of my frustration is that the ending made it clear that this was always the intent, always what was being built up, and it had callbacks resonating throughout the whole series. And yet…so much of the series was wasted on economics, on building, on wandering all over Zoviya trying to accomplish goals rendered moot by the finale. I know that authors like to write about their own interests, but it can’t be at the cost of the story itself. Because of this, the plot was often rushed and confused.
And that doesn’t mention the grammatical errors. No typos, but a few wrong words, a couple wrong names…you get the idea.
And yet…that ending. How I hate it when I’m just about ready to wash my hands of a book or series and then out of nowhere comes that beautifully satisfying ending. Well, mostly satisfying. There are still aspects that I’m not thrilled about, still explanations I wanted, but any good book should leave some questions unanswered.
Nothing about The Vastness makes me want to reread this series any quicker than necessary, and I don’t expect to revisit Vesteal for another four years at least. But…I’ll be keeping these books. They’ll never be my favorites, but they’re not ones I’ll toss as I reach the point of needing more shelf space.
In other news, I found out about Barnes & Noble’s big blowout sale with a bunch of stuff available for half off completely by accident. Over the weekend I went over to acquire books for friends – I comitted to this thing on Facebook to promote reading and offered to get books for the first five people to comment. The first of those arrived in my friend’s mailbox on Monday, she opened it Tuesday, and finished it Wednesday. She’s very happy. The second of those is in the mail now, set to arrive on Monday again and I’m tracking it like a crazy person. I have the other three books, but these people I will be seeing in person, starting this weekend.
My point is that I went to Barnes & Noble to get the book currently in the mail and managed to find the book for this weekend as well. On my receipt was an ad for the blowout sale and I figured it would be worth taking a look. When I checked the website last night, I couldn’t resist Batman: White Knight for only ten dollars. I mean, that’s less than even Amazon would have you spend…and I didn’t have to pay shipping as I told them I’d pick it up at my local store. Which I did on my way home tonight. I was very tempted to reread it tonight, but I think I’m not in the right mindset for it.
As for tomorrow, I really have no idea. Definitely not more brickish fantasy for a bit. Luckily a weekend is coming up because I’d like to read some comics curled up in my home instead of toting a large stack to work.