With that reality burrowing into her bones - along with the guilt of the lives she will sacrifice - Nym returns to her homeland of Faelen to raise an army of peasants through promises of freedom. But when the few friends she has left, along with the world and citizens she loves, are staring down the face of a monster and his undead army, will Nym summon every element her blood is capable of controlling, or surrender to a different strength - one of sacrifice? Because in the end, death may be more merciful for them all.
*** I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, but this has in no way influenced this post. Honestly, it doesn't need to, because this book is frickin' amazing!***
I had mixed feelings about finally reading the final book in the Storm Siren trilogy. One one hand I was dying to get my hands on an ARC so that I could start it as soon as possible, and when I got approval I almost did a happy dance. But I didn't, because when I dance, I look like this ...
On the other hand, I didn't want to read it for two reasons. One, I've loved this series and these characters so much that I don't ever want it to end. And two, I wasn't sure my fragile constitution could take the ending I was fearing.
My fears were unfounded. This book, this series, is absolutely incredible. If you're thinking about maybe, possibly at some point checking it out ... please, please, please do it! I'm lucky to read a lot of books. Most I like, some I love, and others are ok. And then there's that one book that you can't stop raving about. The one that you want to give 10 stars to even though your rating only goes up to five. Books and series that make you remember why you read. Siren's Song is one of those books, and the Storm Siren trilogy is one of those series.
After narrowly escaping Draewulf at Tulla, Nym and her allies race to build an army to stop him before he can absorb the five bloodlines of the Hidden Lands and claim infinite power and immortality. From the crystal castle of Cashlin with its mind-reading Luminescents to the dreamy Valley of Origin with its dirt poor peasant farmers, every land, every character is lushly imagined and realised. I've loved the idea of five kingdoms with five powers in this series, each land and its people unique. Where Cashlin and even Faelen have gotten a bit of a short shrift until now, this is well and truly remedied here. This in one of my ultimate favourite fantasy worlds! It wasn't entirely perfect, there was one aspect of the story that kept bothering me by rearing its head time and time again. It seems unlikely that the king of Faelen would offer to step aside so easily for a seventeen year old girl with zero political experience, even if she is an Elemental. We're told that the throne of Faelen is Nym's birthright because she's the last Elemental, but there's no suggestion that her father was royal and her mother was a mortal, so does that mean anyone with the magic of a kingdom can be in line for its throne? If Colin had been the last Terrene, would he have been handed the crown of Tulla? Are all the Luminescents lining the crystal palace of Cashlin somewhere in line to inherit it? It's a frustratingly fuzzy logic in such a vividly painted world. But it's a minor quibble in an otherwise epic story.
As for the characters ... oh the characters! After spending much of the second book under Draewulf's control, I was so glad to have Eogan back! He may be the king of Bron rather than a humble trainer like he was in book one, but he's still the same wonderful character he was in Storm Siren, the same perfect contrast. His fledgling relationship with Nym against the backdrop of an approaching war that neither are sure they can win is just beautiful. I have to admit I prefer my romances with a little more action and a little less restraint, but it works perfectly in this story. With Rasha missing for a big chunk of the book, it's left to Nym's ragtag group of soldiers to fill the gap in the friendship department. They don't quite manage it, most are fairly interchangeable and nameless, although seven year old Kel is just adorable! I do kind of miss the deliciously slimey Lord Myles too! There's something to be said for the bad guy turned good, but I loved him as the secondary villain in book one!
And then there's Nym. I love her so much! She's the heart and soul of this book, this series, and the journey she's been on from the opening of Storm Siren to the end of Siren's Song is beautiful, heartbreaking and enthralling. The story's central themes of choice and freedom play out through her. After everything's she's been through she'd be totally within her rights to run away and hide, leaving the people who've shunned her to face Draewulf alone, but it's a testament to the strength of the story that you believe that she would stay and fight, that perfect strangers would flock to her banner and that maybe, just maybe, this is a fight she can win. She's a perfectly imperfect character and I'm genuinely so disappointed that I won't get to read any more of her adventures now that this series has ended.
The story itself is fairly standard. In the face of an approaching army that gets bigger and stronger at every turn, Nym is left to rally what's left of the Hidden Lands' nobility and their people under a promise of freedom. But somehow, even though I've read that story what seems like a million times, this time it feels brand new. There's a bit of an overload of prophecy and half-revelations - honestly, this book would clock in at about 10 chapters if characters just said what they knew instead of spouting crytic talk and giving no answers! - but there's something about Mary Weber's writing and the incredibly vivid characters that makes everything feel unique to this series.
I won't spoil the ending, but suffice to say I feel like I've been on an emotional rollercoaster reading this book, and I loved every minute of it. The final chapters in particular are a breathtaking whirlwind where storms rain down upon wraiths, mirages flutter across the battlefield, bombs drop from airships ... it has the potential to be a horribly confusing mess. But instead, it's utterly brilliant. If I was being nitpicky, I'd raise an eyebrow at the convenient powers and plot points that show up in the final act. But honestly, I loved this book too much to care! The conclusion is beautifully fitting, and I'll say no more because once I start raving I won't be able to stop.