Regular Books Are Cool readers will know that I’m a great fan of R Peter Ubtrent. Dark Pilgrim Fallen brings his amazing Dark Pilgrim series to a dramatic close – dramatic both in the sense of the author’s achievement in creating this incredible imaginary universe that has held us transfixed for six novels, and also Ailanthus’ dramatic final achievement. Rivalled by Mishi to take the role of Emperor of the Imperium, there’s really precious little to be emperor of. The Ynos have destroyed most other lifeforms in the galaxy and even Earth is preparing to be evacuated. The Restoration continues to attack the beleaguered Church of the Blessed Prophets. There is rivalry between prospective empresses.  Anolis returns with bounty hunters in tow to avenge his brother’s death on Ailanthus and Tethys, whom he holds responsible, forgetting their once close friendship and loyalty. B’cha the Kroor assassin is another familiar figure to reappear but this time fails in his mission. When had the galaxy gone so wrong? he wonders to himself as he fall. It’s the question everyone should be asking. Why has the universe set itself on this course of self-destruction?

Again, a tightly woven, many layered plot entertains us as the Imperium’s reluctant saviour embarks on a desperate, dangerous plan. Characters, cunning, treacherous, loyal and brave, perform the actions and win the reader’s and each other’s disgust or admiration. In this novel, even more than the others, it seems that strong females emerge, which is perhaps fitting as the need to save and nurture the remnants of humanity becomes more pressing. The surviving friends from the first Dark Pilgrim adventure are scattered, yet still bonded together, a tiny focus of hope for the future. Beyond powerful, this book, like the whole series, is a must read.

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