OH WELL! TWO OUT OF THREE AIN’T SO BAD.
Regrettably, the Quicksilver Trilogy falls at the final hurdle, with this disappointingly anti-climactic third book.
(Quicksilver Trilogy, Book 3)
Genre: High Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Format: Paperback, 448 Pages
Date: 4th June 2007 (First Published 2006)
Quicksilver Twilight is the concluding part of Stan Nicholls’ Quicksilver Trilogy, and I must confess that I approached it with a certain amount of trepidation. For one thing, there are numerous examples of trilogies which had very good first and second books, only to be tarnished by a poor third. But what really concerned me was that, to my mind at least, the way book two ended severely limited what could unfold in this one. I wish that I could say that my concerns were unwarranted, but sadly Quicksilver Twilight is not the ending that this trilogy so richly deserved.
This of course doesn’t necessarily mean that Quicksilver Twilight is a bad novel. But it is one that is bound to disappoint readers who enjoyed the first two instalments of the trilogy.
The story picks up several weeks after the events of the previous book. The aftermath of the Great Betrayal has left the transnational Resistance decimated, for the most part, by the Paladin forces. Only a few thousand resistance members successfully evaded the crackdown and set sail to Batariss (The Diamond Isle) where they now spend most of their time fending off the local pirates. Those members who escaped the Paladins but were unable to make it to Batariss, found sanctuary in a cavernous resistance hideout beneath a cemetery.
This starting point is the catalyst for what ultimately went wrong with Quicksilver Twilight. This new reality that the Resistance no longer had the resources to conduct operations against either empires of Rintarah or Gath Tampoor resulted in a change of the story’s thematic focus. Whereas the first two books dealt with a rag-tag group of misfits whose paths fortuitously crossed and brought them together unwittingly into the arms of the Resistance, Quicksilver Twilight is sadly reduced to being just a run-of-the-mill quest fantasy.
What makes this change all the more disappointing is that, when all is said and done, the quest for the mythical artefact that the Resistance places all their hopes in, proves to be pointless and unnecessary. The “artefact” turns out not to be what they were expecting it to be, and has absolutely no influence on the resolution of the story.
How the story does eventually conclude, brings me to the biggest disappointment of the novel. The most prominent mystery running throughout the trilogy, was the role of the enigmatic “barbarian” warlord, Zerreiss. His brief cameo appearances, during the previous instalments, made it very clear that he would play an integral part in how the story would end. I’m sure I’m not the only reader who had assumed that Zerreiss and his followers would join forces with Reeth Caldason and the Resistance; turning the tide, in the military sense, against the empires.
As it turns out, even though Zerreiss does indeed seek out and find Reeth and the Resistance, he had no need of them whatsoever. In fact he single-handedly, with minimal effort, brings about the complete demise of Rintarah and Gath Tampoor in a matter of minutes; essentially changing the world and the course of history in the process.
Even though I was (to some extent) prepared for a disappointing end to the trilogy, I could not help but feel cheated by the manner in which the story wrapped up. I can understand an author’s desire to not want to write an ending that every reader can predict and see coming from a mile away. But this ending came out of left-field, and made so much of what had transpired previously, seem completely pointless.
I don’t think I’m wrong in thinking that most readers of this trilogy would have happily accepted the more predictable and conventional resolution of an epic military confrontation between the combined forces of Zerreiss and the Resistance, against the empires. It surely would have made for a much more satisfying end to what is other wise a very enjoyable trilogy.
Despite my disappointment, the positives that I will take from Stan Nicholls’ trilogy lie squarely in the great characters he has created. I especially liked the hero and heroine Reeth Caldason and Serrah Ardacris; I found them both to be very relatable characters whom I was easily able to empathise with.
In summation, although it’s not a terrible novel by any stretch of the imagination, Quicksilver Twilight is neither the ending readers wanted or expected. And it’s certainly not the ending that this otherwise excellent trilogy deserved. I won’t discourage anyone from reading it, but those who do will surely come away thinking about what might have been.
Telling it like it is. Giving you honest and balanced, spoiler free reviews. Completely devoid of irrational fanboyism, or shameless astroturfing.