The Red Queen has finally been read, time to dump my thoughts. There will be spoilers below so you have been warned! Seriously, I’m discussing the ending, The Destroyer, everything.
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So I finished reading this only 5 days after it was released. I didn’t end up feeling like I had rushed it, but it has taken some time for me to process it all and sort out my thoughts about the series. Overall I am content with the conclusion of the series. I certainly didn’t hate it. But there are a few too many things I have disliked for me to quite fawn over it. They by no means diminish my love for the series, but my expectations were only just not quite matched. And that is perhaps the issue with a series as big as this, and which has had as much time for anticipation to build. It’s hard for these expectations to be matched. It isn’t helped by perhaps a rush to get it done to the deadline, which I don’t think should have been made. I would have much rather we waited another year to sort out some of the kinks and inconsistencies which take the shine off the book.
But this is what we are given, and I’m overall pleased with the entire thing. As a book by itself it was enjoyable, there was a lot of good scenes and drama, and I feel like the characters all developed well. The ending was not complete enough for my liking, and considering it is the end of the series, that is an important criticism. I never hated it, it was just not what I was expecting, and didn’t really make a whole lot of sense at the time. With some time, I have come to terms with the ending, and accepted it. The series as a whole has been incredible, and I have loved it so much. So part of the problem is that this is the series ending as well.
What did I like:
- I I liked Habitat. It went on for perhaps slightly too long, but I was interested in this place, and why it existed. And to be honest I liked the minutiae of their society.
- Balboa was a great character to dislike – and boy did she cause some fuss between Dameon and Elspeth
- God – I always loved INES from The Stone Key, so having a similar character again here, was great. Plus the whole complex to be explored, that was great too. Though I did get slightly tired of hearing ‘user’ over and over (182 times!). God and Hendon were both great. Hendon especially with Ana and her little love of him. I found Elspeth’s mislike interesting, and considering how it ends with Sentinel, very interesting, because she grows and is able to deal with Sentinel.
- I loved, loved, loved the actual Sentinel part. Right from Elspeth finding the others gone, and following Ariel into the mine, and trying to save everyone, before going on into the complex. And then chatting with Sentinel, who was a truly sentient (lol) being.
- The Masked Ball – that was so good, the whole build up to this event from about Maruman’s mind drop till Elspeth wakes up on the Black Ship was excellent. Ariel’s appearance was fantastic. It was just too short.
- That Dameon finally shared his love of Elspeth with her. I didn’t particularly like that he then kissed her and made her feel like she wanted to. The emotional coercion, which is what it was, was uncomfortable. Elspeth does come to the realisation that she does love Dameon, and that she did want to a little kiss him, but obviously actually loves Rushton, and not Dameon in that way. Elspeth’s complete lack of insight about Balboa and Dameon’s feelings, was frustrating but a source of enjoyment really. I did feel like she didn’t really deal with what happened, and sort of just went, hey Dameon the ocean, and didn’t resolve it a great deal beyond that. But that is probably just Elspeth’s character, whose emotionally unintelligent (which she thinks is from Jes – which is an explanation which can work, but she seems utterly unfussed by that and doesn’t try to fix it. I’m not sure how I feel about that explanation)
- I quite liked the use of the dreams to give us snapshots back to the Land and see some characters again – yay Ceirwan and Freya! It was really good – and it’ll be nice to reread it and be able to understand what is going on in some of them more.
- I liked all the hints about the Beforetimers and it just makes me more excited about The Beforetime Chronicles. I want to know more about Erlinder and Dr Ruth (I LOVED ALL THE WORD PLAY – tumen=two men, Doktaruth = Dr Ruth, speci = specimen, it made me very suspicious about all odd words) and Kelver Rhonin.
- I really do like how the wolves talk and Sendari – OMG about ‘his rider’s mating heat’ ahahaha that was too good.
- Swallow and Ana their relationship developing was good, as was Dragon and Matthew trying to come to terms with one another
- Brunt was also excellent – a nice little character
- There are so many questions left to be answered or pondered – like Dragon’s history. Who put her in a crypo? How? Why? Who took her out? Where? What exactly does the sceptre do? Will Miryum be healed, or did she decide to die? What is Dragon’s real name? Who was the white Agyllian. What about Maruman, he presumably came out of cryo with Hannah, then what? So many questions! And I love it. And for once I’m happy with an open ending where we don’t know what the characters are all going to do. I’m happy to live on imaging their lives.
Things I did not like so much:
- I’m not sure about Eden – I feel like it’s not that much of a reward, and my logical brain just goes, this can’t work. The animals will eat one another and end up dying, or there isn’t the correct environment for them, or enough genetic diversity, so releasing them might not be a great idea. And then what about all the other beasts, she didn’t lead them to freedom, she lead some, so yes she fulfilled it. But none from the Land or Sador got this freedom. So I dunno. I couldn’t really see another way for this to be fulfilled. I thought it would include Eden somehow, and it did. I guess the other animals, Elspeth has helped bring their freedom gradually by her involvement in rebellion and teaching Sador, and freeing Redport. And perhaps that will be extended to The White Faced Lords realm too? So if I take a wider interpretation of her Innle quest, then I feel better about it
- There was not enough death. I was expecting this book to end up destroying me by killing off characters, and while we did lose Swallow as well as Gavyn and Rasial, I felt like there wasn’t enough emotional impact for me. Of course books don’t need major deaths to be good, but I still wanted a bit more
- Which leads on to The Destroyer. Now apparently Isobelle really has had Lidge as the Destroyer from day one, which is fine. And she has probably misdirected us a number of times with ‘clues’, which authors are supposed to do. But, I want more from the Destroyer. I want this dramatic twist of someone close to Elspeth, who we have seen transform. I want deeper characterisation, rather than a fairly background character. At the same time, it makes sense for Lidge to have some importance. And how she was going to be the Destroyer I’m not entirely sure. Was she just going to kill everyone? And I’m not entirely sure how Elspeth stopped her, perhaps by just being able to direct her into Rushton’s cavern. So I almost feel like it was Rushton’s abilities that saved the day more than Elspeth (though she did need to drawn on her power I guess).
- So many inconsistencies and things which went nowhere. Hannah’s full message to Elspeth was never revealed. They had golators on one another and did nothing with them. Elspeth didn’t actually use the correct clue – “When one door is closed another may open. Luthen’s code is Luthen’s heart” Instead she said “Luthen’s path has no end.” Unless there’s some way to interpret them as the same, that’s a poor error, given it’s importance. Gilaine spoke yet she is mute. AND SHE DIDN’T USE THE CORRECT DISARMING PHRASE “here be dragons”, instead she just tells it to shut down now, completely. So I don’t think that should have worked. And how on earth did Dragon have a bookcube this WHOLE TIME from The Farseekers? What? No.
- Salamander – that was very quickly brushed aside, after being a pretty major character since The Farseekers. Yes it was quite obvious it was Saresh, but, it actually was never explicitly like it’s Saresh, just Jakoby’s sister, so if you had forgotten that you wouldn’t know her name. It was a bit too quick.
- Elspeth’s powers seemed inconsequential. There was in The Habitat a need to not use it and then once we got to Redport there was an inability to use them due to the block. The previous books had really interesting descriptions of the use of her abilities, which I felt were more lacking here than I liked. And in the end despite Hannah saying “She would be born with an extraordinary array of paranormal abilities that will give her the potential to reach and access Sentinel and shut it and BOT down”. She didn’t really need to utilise them to complete her task really. With Sentinel she used nothing, it was more her development and interactions with INES and God which helped her. And with BOT directly nothing needed her powers, she needed them to direct Lidge’s mind into Rushton’s with the help of Daffyd and Gilaine.
- I’m not sure about the Agyllians, like Astyanax had almost zero role to play. I guess there is symbolism in that, but I had so much expectation that he would be involved and bring something, but I’m a little glad that didn’t happy because that’s too easy and deus ex machina. At the same time, it’s a bit of a let down.
Interesting tallies: 15 Gnawings, 36 Ye gods and 11 ‘Ere the end’ (honestly thought there were more of these)