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Initial Thoughts: “I will be the first to admit that the first novel in Vic James’ trilogy was not my favorite. However, I feel it drastically improved during the second novel and thoroughly enjoyed the read. This final novel though is unbelievable. It is a culmination of the previous two stories, complete with violence and gore, intrigue, battles of all types, near escapes, betrayal, and magic. The chaos that reigns between the Skilled and the Unskilled reminds me a bit of the one-percenter milieu and everyone else, with much of the fight between the two groups reminiscent of the current struggles between Republicans and Democrats. This story, however, has the added benefit of magic and people willing to make sacrifices for their cause. I tore through this series finale with gusto, even going so far as to sneak reading some pages during work. For a series that has what I feel is a lackluster beginning, the ending exceeded all my expectations and left me breathless with adrenaline. It will be difficult finding a novel to follow this one.”

Now: I stand by my statements. Just the thought of Bright Ruin slightly elevates my heart rate. I especially appreciate that while there are a few clear Baddies, most of the characters fall into the gray area of morality. Neither bad nor good, they make the best decisions they can with the best information available in hopes of achieving their goals. Some of those goals may be a bit more altruistic than others, but that does not make them evil characters. I like that Ms. James did not make most of her characters so very black and white but forced them all to make choices between the lesser of the two evils. These choices lend the characters an air of realism, for it is easy to make blanket statements about right and wrong when things are calm but much more difficult to follow through on such statements when facing a life-or-death situation – of which there are many throughout the series. I rather liked the ambiguity of the ending as well because it fits with the chaos of the revolution. To end the story any other way would be to ignore the critical tenets of the story and defeat the purpose of many of the characters’ struggles.  I remain impressed with the series in general and with Bright Ruin in particular because Ms. James pulled all of the story’s strings and wove them together to make a much stronger story that culminates into something splashy and violent but also realistic. It is that realism which most impresses me and will continue to do so for a while.

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