by Susan Cooper
First sentence: “Will said, turning a page, ‘He liked woad.'”
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This is one of those high fantasy novels, replete with adventure and magic and time travel. It’s got every single person (practically) that we’ve met over the course of the sequence, playing various roles towards a ultimate end. It’s got a Tolkienesque feel — what with swords glowing blue and a Grey Havens bit at the end, not to mention a Quest to end all quests and a Battle to end all battles (though Cooper’s not as bloody as Tolkien). It’s a perfect ending to the series.
But — and maybe this is time and exhaustion talking here — it’s really not as good as some of the other books in the sequence. There were some bits that I liked, sure: particularly Will and Bran’s quest into the Lost Land to get the crystal sword of the Pendragon (if you had any questions about how this fits into the Arthurian legend, Cooper answers them). That was a nice section, replete with high magic, and where Will was mostly operating on his own wits rather than relying on the power of the Old Ones. But, I felt like there was almost too much. Most of the characters were underdeveloped; it seemed that Cooper was relying on what we had learned of the characters rather than giving us anything new about them. It was also disconcerting when some of the minor characters up and changed on us; not drastically, but enough to make me scratch my head. This was more plot-driven, and yet the plot seemed disjointed. It was episodic, and yes it was leading up to a great whole, but the ending seemed rushed and unfulfilling. If you blinked, you would miss it; it was an excuse to get to the denouement, which Cooper seemed much more interested in.
That said, it’s a good series, a grand bit of myth and folklore and magic. If you haven’t read it, you should.