It takes an excellent author to maintain a series successfully over four books but this is what R Peter Ubtrent does in this next novel in the absorbing and complex Dark Pilgrim series. And if anything, the quality goes up. The excitement continues with the Restoration now thrown into the broiling mix, working to bring down the Church of the Blessed Prophets which it sees as an “infection”. Lord Comte Mishi continues his rebellion against the tatters of the Imperium. The virus is still having a fiercely negative impact on humanity, as are the Drek and the Ynos. And Ailanthus is still fighting his fate, with an ever dwindling band of loyal supporters. He feels wholly inadequate for the responsibilities he will face as Emperor. All of the main characters reflect on what their status will be within the new order, if and when it finally comes.
This intricately constructed book has at its heart pain and relationships, and often the pain of relationships. There’s torture, both physical and emotional on a shocking scale. Trust too is an issue. It’s described as being nothing but exploitation at one point and this seems true. Alliances are brittle and self-interest is served. The galaxy seems to be wading forward into darker times. The truth concerning the history of the Dark Ages of Human Bondage emerges but as Ailanthus declares sarcastically, “Now that we’ve been enlightened, we all know better.” There seems to be no end to the darkness in sight. There is still a lot more to come in this astounding series.
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