(I have been waiting for SO LONG to post this review…and it is my DEEPEST pleasure to finally do so. Ah, the pain of an advance reviewer…)
[SPOILERS FOR ROSE POINT IN THIS REVIEW. Though if you’re reading this before you read Rose Point…?]
One might think that after this many, I’d get tired of writing reviews for M.C.A Hogarth’s work. That I would get bored of trying to find something to criticize just so that I sound like I’m not getting paid to say nice things about her. That somehow, I would grow weary of reading about fuzzy people in space trying to deal with decidedly non-fuzzy people in space.
…but then again, one might not know me very well.
Laisrathera is the long-awaited finale to the trilogy beginning with Earthrise and Rose Point, following Captain Theresa “Reese” Eddings and her intrepid crew on the TMS Earthrise…and of course, the on-going half-bubble-off soap-opera drama that she’s found herself in with the xenophobic Eldritch. As any good lover of romance novels needs, Reese finds herself (occasionally begrudgingly) fond of “her” Eldritch: Hirianthial Sarel Jisiensire.
Ever since Rose Point, and Reese’s connection to the Eldritch became decidedly more permanent, readers have been waiting to see what happens. How are the Eldritch going to take the betrayal we see in Rose Point? Is Reese going to have trouble on the Eldritch home world—especially since Hirianthial went away at the end of the second book? How is the familiar break going to come to pass, once Hirianthial gets back—since of course, we have to assume he gets back? And when in the name of the God and Lady are Reese and Hirianthial going to kiss?!
Hogarth promised us that all of this would come to fruition in the final book of the trilogy—and she did not disappoint.
The trouble I had with Laisrathera is more that it is exactly what this trilogy needed, and not necessarily what we had come to expect from the trilogy. Earthrise and Rose Point were both fairly action-based, lots of running around and getting hit by palmers and courting death. They were merchants and traders, running around like Captain Mal and Serenity, never sure of when their next meal or breath would be. But Laisrathera was a spy novel. This was cerebral and daunting and political and nuanced…and not what I was expecting. I’m not sure why, in the end, since that was the only way this series logically came to a close. The time of large scale fights was (for the most part) over, though there were a few knock-down throw-out battles to be had—but they weren’t the focus. It was the subtlety of Baniel’s interaction with Thaniet, and the Chatcaavan. It was the careful conversations with Liolesa and Hirianthial, and the hiding behind tumbling walls for Reese in her castle. It was the last moments of a game of Jenga, and not one you’re willing to lose in a fit of anger.
That being said, it is a tremendously written spy novel. As always, Hogarth brings her world in tight and keeps you remembering things from previous novels—sometimes, ones outside of the trilogy!—and never lets go. The dialogue is beautifully nuanced, and allows the reader to make connections before it clarifies if you’re right or wrong. The reader can be walked into a scene and not be sure of what’s happening until a paragraph after it happens—and then when you realize and go back to read again, you can’t understand how you missed it. The love is real, the vindication is real, the triumph and loss are real. And by the end, it feels like you’ve heard their story in totality…and still wish there could be more.
I won’t say that I wouldn’t love to see what happens next. The book opens up a whole new world and possibility, and of course I want to see where that leads. But the important thing about any trilogy, or any length series of work, is knowing when to end. There are many more stories to be told, but that doesn’t mean that we need a book of them. A book requires a drive, and an conflict, and a strong plot to carry it. If that’s not there, then it will feel flat and motionless, no matter how much we wanted to see whatever it happened to be come to fruition. I would worry about anything further.
…Though I won’t say that I wouldn’t love to see a series of short stories at least, based on the world they’ve created.
Final Rating: **** (Loved It)