Master of the Planes by T O Munro
The traitor has been unmasked and Niarmit at last has hope of; • untangling the web of evil which has enmeshed her, • taking the attack to the salved people’s oldest enemy, • seizing at a chance of private happiness. But Maelgrum has many allies, new and old. And secrets buried deep can surface still to shake the young queen’s spirit and shatter her plans. And Niarmit must ask again who she was and is and what she must become in pursuit of victory and the answer to the question “How do you kill that which is already dead?”
This is the third and final instalment in the The Bloodline Trilogy by T O Munro which picks up right at the end of the book 2.
As the description suggests, the traitor in the midst of those fighting the dark lord, Maelgrum, has been unmasked and that was shock enough for the young queen, but the war continues. And then there was the death of a central, much loved and despised, character that gives the queen a hope of victory.
Niarmit, the queen who has had the weight of the world thrust upon her shoulders, must find a way to navigate the world of politics and the tactics of battle. As you’ll be aware, the queen is much better suited to the field of conflict than the throne room. It is interesting to watch her learn to deal with people and still keep the brittle, hard edge that she was first introduced with.
At her side, Kimbolt the Seneschal, ex-lover of the Medusa and new lover of the queen, is still not trusted by everyone and keeping their relationship secret only enhances this feeling amongst those trying support the queen and win the war. In any new relationship, there is the potential for misunderstandings and a fragility of trust. There are those in the Salved Kingdom who do not wish the queen to succeed and are happy to use Kimbolt as a weapon against her.
The battles are well-drawn and we have an author not afraid to kill off some of his creations in the cause of a good story.
Some of the best moments are in those that take place in the plane of the Helm. This construct is a masterstroke by the author. It allows Niarmit to interact with all of her ancestors, to garner their advice and to wield their many powers. From a sword wielding priestess the helm allows her to throw magic and mayhem across the battlefield. But more than that, within the plane of the helm there are dangers, machinations and whole sub-plot of betrayal to enjoy.
Like all good stories, the themes of redemption and overcoming fear are strong and it is a fitting end to the trilogy. Almost all the threads, for all the characters, are wrapped up, but there is a lot of room for more stories in this well-realised world.
This book is a story of battles and relationships, a story of weakness and trust, of love and the desire for revenge.