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The New World by Michael A. Stackpole

The New World by Michael A. Stackpole
Book Name: The New World
Author: Michael A. Stackpole
Publisher(s): Spectra
Formatt: Paperback / Ebook
Genre(s): Fantasy
Release Date: July 24, 2007

War can be a tricky set-up for the final book in a trilogy. The fights in the first two books that have been leading up to the climactic battle need to have engaged the reader thus far, but the last major conflict needs to top them all, no matter how amazing and epic the others were. It can also seem exhausting, the idea of having a third book that consists of multiple battles woven together to form a tapestry of death and destruction that promises to that single, brutal ending. The New World keeps things from getting stale by following a god into Hell, introducing pocket universes that breed extinct mountain men, and revealing that, on rare occasions, amazing organizational and leadership skills can lead to a higher purpose than princedom.

One Empress, One Emperor, Two Madmen

Prince Nelesquin, resurrected lord of the vanyesh, has come to Nalenyr with a contingent of beasts and warriors fashioned by the hands of Qiro Anturasi, famous cartographer and grandfather to Keles, Jorim, and Nirati Anturasi. From the continent of Anturasixann – formed by Qiro’s blood and will – the self-proclaimed Emperor comes to liberate the Nine Principalities and claim the Empire as his own, removing the whore queen from his father’s throne she usurped centuries ago. Tasked to stop him by the newly revealed Empress are Prince Cyron and Prince Nelesquin, a peacekeeper and a warrior, who share one trait: duty to the Empire. Duty, however, may not be enough to stop a man who cannot die.

While battles rage, Keles lays broken and battered as he flies from Deseiron trying to control powers he barely understands. His brother, Jorim, has ascended to godhood, shedding his human form and becoming the dragon god Wentiko, his true form. He too must go to war, but not with man. Instead, his fight is with someone far more dangerous: the father of the gods, Nessagafel. Nirati, Keles’s twin sister, waits on Anturasixan between life and death until she feels Jorim in need of her help. All three must play there part in saving the world, no matter the cost.

The New World, like its predecessors, feels extremely dense with so much happening to its characters in its five-hundred plus page length. It’s filled with cool moments, detailed fight sequences, shocking surprises, and it delivers on everything it has promised since The Secret Atlas. It even reveals what The Secret Atlas actually is! However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a bit long in the tooth and I’m disappointed that I felt happier that the story had finally come to a close – even though I really enjoyed the trilogy – rather than feeling elated at how amazing the entire story was by its conclusion.

It has a small cast of characters when compared to a series like A Song of Ice and Fire, but there are enough viewpoints to follow that it teetered on the edge of cumbersome. Luckily, each character has such a unique voice and personality that there were never any chapters I dreaded reading because of the character they focused on. Okay, to be fair, I hated Pelut Vniel, but I think that was the point. No matter what, I will always remember the characters of this series because they developed and grew so thoroughly and that can’t be said for every fantasy trilogy out there.

All Grown Up

There is closure for every character in this series, whether through death, experience, or godhood. Ciras puts aside his distaste for gyanrigot, Keles realizes his true inner strength, Nirati finds and understands her talent, everyone, with perhaps the exception of Jorim and those who die, are gifted an ending you can feel good about.

I will admit, though, that some of it feels a little silly. It is cool to see humans ascend to godhood and it makes sense given what you come to understand about divinity in the setting, but it can be a little hard to swallow. On top of that, I wish the antagonists had not come off so maniacally evil, especially Qiro. It was very, “I will rule the world, muahahaha!” and both Nelesquin and Qiro could have benefitted from a little more layering. They were definitely entertaining and they didn’t feel one-dimensional, but they also weren’t completely three-dimensional either.

Seeing these characters grow and learn and mature was the best part of this series, as it should be. You spend so much time with these individuals that it would feel incredibly disappointing if, by the end of the series, their lives and personalities hadn’t developed. Here, it’s made even more satisfying by the fact that you get invested in pretty much all the characters and the ones you’re meant to hate get their proper comeuppance which adds even more icing on the cake. All around they were a great group to read about and I’m sad that I won’t be traveling along with them on the next stage of their unwritten journey.

Drag Me To Hell

Nalenyr becomes the primary landscape for this finale as it is the strongest city of the Nine Principalities and therefore must be shown the mighty vengeance of the conquering Nelesquin. We have seen much of the shining city, built on peace and exploration, but it becomes less glamourous when coated in blood and despair. Yes, the city that is seen as a bastion and place of strength is beaten, broken, and desolated nearly as much as the warriors protecting it. Bridges are shattered, towers fall, and walls come crumbling down. Stackpole does a fantastic job of pulping the beacon of civilization he’s been writing about for two books and holds nothing back. Nelesquin and the vanyesh throw everything at Nalenyr and it is a beautiful desolation to watch unfold.

The Nine Hells play a large role in the narrative too as Jorim must wade through each level in order to stop Nessagafel. The heavens are briefly explored but the newly reawakened god discovers/remembers that each level of the hells holds a particular type of individual and each individual has the ability to ascend to the heavens if and when they come to understand their wrongdoing. The New World focuses a lot more on divinity and spirituality than the previous volumes and it was a great addition to a story that was made more gripping as Jorim fought his way through terrifying planes of pain and suffering with a Viruk by his side.

Shining, Shimmering, Splendid

I had a wonderful experience flipping through the Age of Discovery trilogy and I appreciate the setting and characters Stackpole sculpted over the entirety of the series. It is easily apparent that he has a love for world building, mythology, and well-rounded characters. There were times that the narrative was bogged down by the world’s own history and the author’s desire to inform the reader about intricate everything was, but it’s hard to fault an author for being passionate about his work. I urge everyone to pick up this series and add another well-crafted fantasy setting to their shelves that is filled with characters that are as enjoyable as they are multi-faceted.


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