I can’t imagine a better, more satisfying finish to Daniel Heath Justice’s fantasy trilogy than Dreyd, the final, exhilarating book. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you should have a look at my review of the first and the second book in this fantastic series.
Like all good speculative fiction installments, Dreyd picks up just about where Wyrwood left off, but with a slight detour into the past. By book two, we already knew Vergis Thane—a man who hunts Kyn folk for their magic—and Denarra Syrene—a she-Strangeling, a travelling musician and actress, as well as a Wielder—had some kind of past. The very beginning of Dreyd takes us back to see how Thane has got as awful as he is, and why Denarra has a connection to this horrible guy. The plot thickens! I think Denarra’s is my favourite storyline, and we get to see lots of her in this third book, including what her life in Chalimor, the capital in a far land of humans, is like.
Chalimor and Denarra’s life aren’t quite what her companion Quill expected, and their friendship is tested when the two reach the increasingly anti-Everland city, and they actually have to enact their plans to storm the government and get them to defend the people of the Everland. Uh, not surprisingly this plan does not go swimmingly, and there is a dark period where Quill and Denarra are stuck and frustrated, until they come up with this plan to blackmail a woman who built her reputation in high society “civilizing” people from the Everland. The way this plan unfolds will probably excite you, disappoint you, surprise you, and then excite you again. Watch how Denarra “convinces” this woman to help:
Same old Mardisha! I’d almost forgotten what a terrible temper you have! It’s almost as distracting as that enormous mole on your forehead. Don’t worry darling—I won’t let either of those things get in the way of our little reunion. I’m a forgiving person. You see, I understand that you still have a bit of influence in high places, and I’m ever so eager to go to the Jubilee tonight…Mardisha, darling, I think you’ve misunderstood me. Let me clarify this in terms that even a half-wit like you can understand: this isn’t a request.
While everything is going awry with Denarra and Quill, things get pretty low for Tobhi too, while he gets swept along to walk the Road with the Everland’s exiles (in a clear reference to the Trail of Tears). Luckily, unbeknownst to Tobhi, his adopted sister/BFF Tarsa is following the exiles with a rescue plan in mind. The love triangle that has been dangling on the edges of Tarsa’s story swings more towards centre focus, as she is now travelling with both Jitanti, a female Kyn warrior, and Daladir, a male Kyn diplomat. One woman and one man love interest! Bisexual drama! I can’t help it, I’m a sucker for romance. You might be interested to know that this storyline takes a polyamorous turn, which is fun and totally appropriate for the world building.
Denarra, Quill, Tarsa, and Tobhi’s stories, as well as many others (including the traitor Kyn character who signed away the lives of her people) culminate in a kind of battle-to-end-all-battles, where pretty much every character you’ve met shows up and surprises you with how tough and bad-ass they are, even if they’re less than a quarter of the size of the enemy. People who you thought might not be allies pull through and, of course, good triumphs over evil.
The novel ends with a message of hope, that even without the land they have been disposed of, in particular the Eternity Tree that was their source of life, the Folk and their spirit will continue. It’s not a rosy, everything-is-perfect ending, nor is it the ultimate ending (Heath Justice cleverly calls it “an ending”). But it is a very satisfying ending to a fun and smart set of fantasy books.
I really hope to hear more soon from these characters and Daniel Heath Justice! It looks like I’m in luck, actually, since I see on his website that he’s got some other speculative fiction in the works, and is thinking of sequels for The Way of Thorn and Thunder!!