Things now rest on the knife edge, the Humans First and Last Movement is growing in power and popularity, attacking humans who don’t support them and continually provoking the Terra Indegene
And they may have gone too far – and they have no idea what mighty powers they have raised against them
This book is all about surviving, hoping for the best and preparing for the aftermath. It’s not even about trying to make it less bad – it’s past that – it’s all about getting ready to pick up the pieces.Wverything heading to a bad place and everyone is just trying to soften the blow. There’s no doubt here, the worry that has been brewing for several books has reached its peak: it’s too late to stop the disaster, the elder Others have been roused and people are going to die.
The Terra Indegene we know are not unscathed by this. Simon, Henry, Vlad et all are all closely associated with the humans and one of the repeated conflicts they face is the question of how much humanity is allowed to remain. That doesn’t just mean how many humans are allowed to live – but how many human things are allowed to remain, which is a conflict for them as well as there’s a number of human things they themselves want to keep
Which also is a personal question for Simon in particular as well – Terra Indgene are beings that imitate a predator and become more like them (so wolfguard’s ancestors saw wolves and became increasingly wolfish) – as he is more and more involved with humans how much of a human is he becoming?
Which also fits in part of the personal conflict with Meg who has excellent storylines of being the Trailblazer, trying to find a new way of living and surviving for the Cassandra Sangre like herself: trying to use their power to predict the future without it killing them. There’s also the personal story of her connection with Simon. Personally, I don’t think this book needs a romance, and I appreciate, at least, that it has been a very slow burn – but if it is going to be there it’s interesting some of the elements that they’ve added. Meg has been abused – physically emotionally and sexually – by human men; she actually views Simon’s increasing humanity as a threat and a barrier
The conflict facing the human characters is how to convince the ignorant and entitled Humans First and Last Movement demanding more and more from the Others despite the repeated warnings they’ve received. There’s lots of conflict of these humans desperately trying to placate the Others and being victimised themselves for being “Wolf Lovers”. There’s a lot of uncomfortable and difficult moments with the Others, especially the wolves, being furious with humanity for just reasons and these humans being caught in the middle, sympathising while also trying to point out some of them are trying to stop this. It’s messy and has no good ending – which is kind of the underlying theme of this book
All of these is bleak and grim but comes with a nice heavy dose of humour as well which so defines this series. The joyous confusion of the Others trying to understand humanity, especially The Meg. This light, hilariously confusion is an excellent addition to ensure that everything isn’t so grim.
The world building of this series is fascinating and pretty unique. We have a lot of book series out there where the supernatural hides out of fear of the vastness of humanity – but this is one of the few where it is the opposite. The supernatural are vastly powerful who tolerate humanity’s presence. This book also lets us see how this works in different lands with the people of Cel-Romano giving gifts to their “friends in the woods” which is a nice take on old superstitions of leaving gifts out to, for example, the fae and other local supernaturals in different parts of Europe.
This book, this series, raises a lot of interesting questions and points about what “using the land” means, especially when we consider how truly frivolous a lot of our uses are. The Humans First and Last Movement talk about exploiting natural resources which they say are being “unused” but the Others point out, strongly, that the land is being used. It’s being used by beings to live, for food, shelter – it’s their homes. And all this talk of “proper use of land” is really exposed when you realise that part of the land under-dispute is desired for gold – and can there be a better skewering of “proper use of the land” when land used for food and water is torn up for the sake of decorative metal?