I had thought to finish How The Multiverse Got Its Revenge for 2020 since I’d just reviewed the first book in the series, but I wasn’t quite fast enough. As sequels go, this was pretty average.
The action picks up not too long after the concluding events of the first novel, with Rupert, Grytt, and Ivar on their sheep farm on Lanscott, and Rory, Jaed, Zhang, and Thorsdottir basically doing some free-lance piracy/salvage work in some remote corner of space. One of the fairies appears to Ivar with a message that Grytt and Rupert need to go save Rory from something, and off they go. Rory and friends have indeed run into some interestingness, first in the form of a possibly sentient, definitely dangerous biological weapon named Rose, as well as several alien races, some of which are definitely hostile, who are after Rose and its abilities. Then the action basically stops for most of the book.
The focus of the novel seems to be trying to fill enough pages by following the two sides trying to get to each other, or in Rory’s case, talk her way out of the hostile new probably soon-to-be intergalactic conflict. She’s renounced being a princess, so she tries to avoid getting drawn back into politics, so she says. The thing is, and this gets directly pointed by various characters to various other characters, including Rory, that she’s apparently a leader by nature and default, so she can quit the title but not the responsibilities.
Here is the biggest issue of the book: Rory gets no character development, and as such the parts with her get really slow and make her look kind of like a snob who everyone kind of knows will be fine and get out of any/all trouble, but she’s focused a lot on herself, and all the other characters are mostly focused on her too, but why? They have some pretty pressing issues of their own. The “everyone loves Rory” but “Rory is above that sort of thing” really slows the story down and made one of the supposed heroines unlikable.
On the other hand, Grytt, Zhan, and especially Jaed and Thorsdottir get some character development. Thorsdottir is a part of most of the key action, and the central dilemma in the grand finale revolves around her. Jaed is the character who has to make most of the interesting, difficult choices in the story, and we do get to see some of his thought and emotional processes. Rose presents some interesting questions and general issues, and I do wish it had had more of a voice or at least attention.
Most all issues are solved by the end, and the epilogue has closure for what Rory gets up to next, so this could possibly be the end of the series, but then again there are plenty of references to the big war that’s going to break out soon, and that part of the story could probably be detailed. I’d be ok with that, but either leave Rory out of it, or give her some more interesting personality or character.