The Shattered Vine
Laura Anne Gilman
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". . .intelligent and complex and satisfying . . ."
Jerzy, Mahault, Ao, and Käinam return to The Berengia in their ship after battling the Washers and Ximen. Ao needs more assistance than Jerzy can give on shipboard and Jerzy needs to return to the vineyard. There Jerzy is stronger and he will confront Ximen on his own turf.
The Washers and the land-lord, all of whom want Jerzy to combine forces with them, note their return. Jerzy may be Apostate, but he thinks he knows how to stop the darkness that reaches up from the Root to shadow all the land. On the Vineart’s soil is where the friends will make their last stand against all the forces against them.
Laura Anne Gilman ends the Vineart War trilogy with The Shattered Vine, bringing all the enemies and friends together for a last stand that ends as it began with Jerzy at the vanguard. The Shattered Vine takes off on a slow rising arc. It was a bit difficult to find my bearings in the beginning, a problem that could have been improved by rereading The Weight of Stone or even going back to the beginning and reading all three books together, from Flesh and Fire through to The Shattered Vine.
Once the tale began to move forward it moved quickly to the end of the tale, leaving enough room for more stories from other viewpoints. Gilman has ended the trilogy with a subtle power that leaves questions about the nature of religion and magic and the truth of Zatim Sin Washer and what really happened to create the Lands Vin and the legacy that comes full circle with Jerzy. Each of the friends—Mahault, Käinam, and Ao—as well as Lil and Detta and Washer Brion, become fuller and more complex as the final confrontation nears, giving depth and complexity to Gilman’s trilogy and showcasing her writing and world building skills. There is so much more that could be written about the Lands Vin and the Exiles and I hope Gilman will eventually take that task in hand.
The Shattered Vine is intelligent and complex and satisfying. I am glad I had the chance to follow Jerzy’s education and his journey and sad that the tale is ended. Aside from a few minor pacing issues, the Vineart War trilogy is a rewarding and rich experience of high fantasy. This is a keeper.
Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell