AN IGNOMINIOUS ENDING AWAITS
A disappointing book brings a disappointing trilogy to a disappointing conclusion.
Voice Of The Gods
(The Age Of The Five Trilogy, Book 3)
Genre: High Fantasy
Format: Paperback, 672 Pages
Date: 3rd April 2008 (First Published 2006)
It’s fair to say that the first two books of The Age Of The Five Trilogy were underwhelming to me. In spite of this I held on to the hope that history would repeat itself; that the third instalment of this Trudi Canavan trilogy would blow me away in the same manner as book three of The Black Magician Trilogy, had done. Regrettably, my hope was misplaced. Not only is Voice Of The Gods not in the same league as, The High Lord, it is also the weakest book of this trilogy.
In fairness, I should probably mention that much of my disappointment with this book, and the trilogy as whole, is the result of the high expectations I had before I started reading. The Black Magician Trilogy made quite an impression on me, so I couldn’t wait to get stuck into The Age Of The Five Trilogy. Sadly, at no point was this new trilogy able to meet my expectations, nor did it ever threaten to do so.
It would be easy to conclude that Voice Of The Gods is a poor novel that should be avoided. But the truth is, it’s not horrible by any means. It is, for the most part, a readable book; but one which is marred by the all the same flaws that tarnished the two previous books of the trilogy. These faults are largely responsible for why The Age Of The Trilogy doesn’t fulfil the promise of its premise.
To reiterate the problems mentioned in my reviews for the first two books of the trilogy, that continue to plague this book: there are still too many point of view characters used; the narrative is not focussed enough due to the inclusion of superfluous sub-plots; and the story is predictable, principally because of the numerous parallels and similarities with The Black Magician Trilogy.
Where the book remains strong, is with some of the main characters. The Pentadrian duo of Imenja, the Second Voice Of The Gods, and her Dedicated Servant, Reivan, are once again the best thing about the book. While they are both interesting characters in their own right, it is the dynamic of the friendship the two women have built that is so compelling. I can only speculate how much better this trilogy could have been if Imenja and Reivan had been the main focus of the story.
Perhaps the most disappointing thing about the book, and the trilogy as a whole, is that it promised to evolve beyond the initial premise of the story, conflict between two implacable religious groups, into something much more complex and compelling. While the story certainly does develop into a more complicated tale, it doesn’t do so in a satisfactory or interesting manner. And the less said about the resolution to the third book the better. I don’t think I’ve ever read a more anti-climactic ending to a story.
You would imagine that two civilisations discovering that they had been manipulated into a costly religious war by a group of sorcerers who had deceived the people into worshipping them as gods, would have far reaching ramifications. Yet it appeared that this revelation wasn’t that big a deal. It seemed as though most of the characters were more upset that their “gods” had been exposed as frauds, with all their anger reserved for those who had revealed the truth and killed the gods.
In summation, there is a great story trying to get out of The Age Of The Five, sadly it never fully emerges. As a consequence it’s hard to know who to recommend it to. I would certainly advise those people who have read and enjoyed The Black Magician Trilogy to avoid this, as bitter disappointment is inevitable. I suspect that those most likely to enjoy this trilogy will be those who haven’t previously read any of Trudi Canavan’s other work.
Telling it like it is. Giving you honest and balanced, spoiler free reviews. Completely devoid of irrational fanboyism, or shameless astroturfing.