Published by: Ace
Pages: 416 pages
Endings are damnably hard to nail—especially when the kind we’re talking about is the culmination not just of a trilogy but of disparate elements woven throughout an entire fifteen-book oeuvre. I cannot judge too well on the latter, having read only half of Mark Lawrence’s novels; but gun pressed to my head, I’ll tell you right now, The Girl and the Moon is as fine a conclusion to a trilogy as any I’ve read.
Its greatest weakness is that I wish I could spend more time with all these characters; I wish I could witness them do more, grow even further, experience new trials and tribulations and be tortured by Lawrence in yet more unspeakable ways—and that’s what an excellent novel does, isn’t it? You wish you could keep readin+g well after the covers have closed, hoping beyond hope that the magic blossoms once more in some second, third, fifth trilogy featuring the same characters. But that’s another one of the markings of a great work: it leaves you wanting for more. Mark Lawrence is proficient at this—reading his Impossible Times trilogy proved as much, and having begun the Book of the Ancestor trilogy, I’m willing to bet that one will make me cry my eyes out and want more in one fell swoop.
Thank the gods I read Red Sister before The Girl and the Moon, too—just that first part of the Ancestor trilogy gave me so much more context about the world than I otherwise would have. The prior books in the Book of the Ice introduced Abeth’s vast icy surface. The unforgiving, frigid wasteland of a planet supports life as we would recognize it only across a fifty-mile-wide Corridor, kept open by the eponymous moon, an artificial device preciously close to falling out of the sky—an event that’ll hail the apocalypse for all the Corridor’s denizens. Yaz’s heart-wrenching, beautiful adventure sees its climactic finale here, as the struggle against Seus for the heart of the moon turns well and truly desperate. Yaz, Quina, Erris, Theus, Ice&Fire Boy, Mali and as-many-delightful-murder-y-Nuns-as-Mark-Lawrence-could-have-thrown-in-here-without-raising-everyone’s-eyebrows have their work cut out for them as enemies come rearing their ugly heads. Nowhere is safe: not the Convent of Sweet Mercy, not the Imperial Capital of Verity and its Academy and certainly not the path to the Ark of the Missing. The last holds the key to shoring up the Moon’s defences, and it’s Yaz and her party’s aim to frustrate Seus’s attempts to bring the artificial body down from the skies.
Characters are drawn together, torn apart by cruel fate, and faced with some remarkable tests of their skills and wits—seeing Yaz overcome so much, her final confrontations, the losses along the way and the suffering she had to endure…only an Ichta could do it all.
I was thrilled by the connective tissue between Moon and Red Sister; realizing that a major character in the former is one of the most memorable characters in the latter was a thrill, and another few cameos made me cheer out loud. I also drew some information from Yaz and her friends’ perspectives that is helping along with a smorgasbord of interesting ideas, which I will share with you—or won’t—some far-off day.
I finished The Girl and the Moon a few weeks ago but have been holding on writing this review because past experience with the final parts of a trilogy have taught me caution. Sometimes you get overexcited, end up singing the praises of a book without accounting for its weaknesses. “No,” I thought, “better to let it lie in the crevices of my mind, see if anything shifty crawls out—and not just my usual kind of shifty, that’s accounted for.”* Well, reader, I think back on The Girl and the Moon and can find no flaws in it, nothing that took away from my enjoyment of a journey finished alongside characters who are as real as any I’ve read about. More so, even. A stellar example of Mark Lawrence’s capacity to stick a landing, The Girl and the Moon cements the Book of the Ice as another must-read trilogy in the great and mighty Fantasy Canon™.
*I do a lot of internal monologing like that. My mind is not a happy place, at all.