REVIEW #sci-fi #fantasy #dystopian #heroicfiction
The fourth in Silistra Quartet does not disappoint. As ever the action starts immediately, with incredible creatures, fierce battles and searching of souls. Our heroes are, by this time, ‘more than men (and women), and less than gods’ but in a land of largely bronze age people, ruled by creatures of ‘Wehrkind’ gods they appear. And the locals aren’t impressed. In a quest for answers and revenge Sereth, Estri and Chayin must battle to free themselves from old rules, old beliefs, old prejudices and ghosts of their own pasts and emerge not only victorious but as rulers of this land. Ties of loyalty are truly tested, and the question of evolution, species selection and ranking is very much to the fore.
The Wehrdom creatures are fascinating – semi-telepathic creatures of all shapes and sizes, from eagle like creatures, to half man half beast, to those who just communicate with them. Led by a ‘dreaming’ king for a thousand years they wage war, they live, they die and they are manipulated in a kind of selective breeding or eugenic programme to remove the lesser (ie human) species and in ‘Wehr rage’ they are truly formidable.
As allies and enemies, these beings shape this story and this part of the world they inhabit. I found them worthy of pity (as pawns), frightening for their strangeness, enlightening for their intelligence and loyalty, and infinitely intriguing. They appealed to the mythic aspect I love so much in this author’s work.
Delcrit – the simple and lowly character we are introduced to early on – proves his worth and his destiny in a surprising twist.
The entire quartet brings forth questions on the wisdom of technology, the place in the world for the sexes, species, politics and laws. Biology is queen here, nature is queen, but the heroes must find their place among their own kind, and forge a future and protect their world from enemies many of which are of their own making.
The Silistra books are not simple, or easy to read but they are enthralling, exciting and thought-provoking. Silistra is dystopian – it is not Earth – but it COULD be. The characters are not us – but they COULD be.
As with all Morris’s work, the prose is very lyrical and very poetic. There is a beat to her work which pulls in the reader. No words are wasted, no scenes are out of place or unnecessary and thus it makes for a thrilling and evocative read.
There is treachery, love, bravery, intrigue, a lot of ‘fight or die’, complex characters and a supremely crafted world – everything one would expect in such a work.
Loose ends are firmly tied off, scores are settled and places allotted, and answers found.