This series remains one of the most confounding I’ve ever read. It makes me feel unstable thinking about it and reading it. I don’t quite know how to explain it to you. I start these books, every time (except maybe the first book, since I had nothing yet to forget) soooo frustrated that I get angry, and I almost quit because everything is so needlessly elaborate in terms of structure, plot, and characters, it’s basically impossible to feel prepared before reading them (without binging them back to back). And then they always take a turn, where I remember just enough, and the plot does crazy things just enough, and I get comfortable with whatever wacked out narrative style the author has chosen this time around that I start to become compelled and can’t put the fool things down. Every. Time. By the end of this book, I was so pumped for the final book in the series, but I know when it does finally arrive, the same thing will happen. At some point I should just accept this, and look forward to the day when I have time to binge re-read the whole thing and try to make full, complete sense of it.
I think, ultimately, I do recommend this series for fans of epic fantasy in particular. It’s certainly unique (though I remain unconvinced that all the elaborate structural techniques she employs are really necessary). It’s also, as I mentioned in the title of this review, one of the queerest fantasy series I’ve ever read, and effortlessly so. There are queer folks everywhere. You’d be hard-pressed to find a scene without one. This is epic fantasy so by definition that means there are a shit ton of characters and a huge percentage of them are: pansexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, gender fluid, polyamorous, asexual, aromantic, and even (ha! it’s fantasy, what do you expect) interspeciesist (is there a different word for that?). And none of that is any kind of deal at all, it just is.
This book also managed to surprise me, both with its aforementioned elaborate structure, and in the way it ended and pushed the story forward. No plot summary is going to make any kind of sense to you if you haven’t read the other books, so all I will say is that basically every important character in this series spends the entire book stuck in a lighthouse suspended in time engaging in mental battle with an all-powerful entity who wants to escape and eat the sun. Lyons structures the book so that the memories the characters throw at the entity in their battle of wills play like flashbacks in the narrative, and it was incredibly confusing. I had no idea what was going on. It took me almost a hundred pages to get a grip on the narrative. Once I did, though, I started to have fun with it. Also, while I’m mentioning things I liked in this book, I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up the one scene where one character gives another character a blow job TO SAVE THE WORLD. Tell me what other book series you’ve read where that is a legitimate thing that happens!
So those are my conflicting thoughts. I remain at sea here, mostly because none of my book friends have read this series. I’m the only one, and I only have me to talk about it with. Would not feel at all guilty to drag someone else into this with me. So jump in! The water’s totally safe, not at all filled with (undead) krakens. Nope. Not a single one . . .