House of the Wolf – M.K. Wren

House of the Wolf

Summary

The founder of the Society of the Phoenix, and its most brilliant mind, is free, but at what cost? The Phoenix's hope for the future is badly injured and tormented by word of his lover's death, and the Society itself is largely in the hands of his rival, a psychotic who is launching a war the Phoenix cannot win.

Review

The Phoenix Legacy finishes largely as it began – with no great surprise, but with pageantry, drama, and emotion. It’s a strong finish to a strong series, and well worth reading. The characters stay true to themselves, and loose ends are carefully tied up. What you think will happen (and want to happen) happens.

The one surprise is in the epilogue, where Wren aims more closely at realism than I recalled or anticipated. In keeping with the long societal history provided by the documentary interludes, the political situation for the Phoenix (and the Bonds they’re fighting for) is … muddy and not at all certain. While Wren left a path open for a sequel here, I don’t think that’s what she intended. Instead, I read the series as being a romance on the individual level, with happy ending, but as a political book on the societal level, with a much more tenuous grip and far less optimism. It’s not a downer by any means, but it does leave one with the distinct feeling that “… and then they rolled up their sleeves and got to work”.

There are also quite a lot of appendices – some interesting (chronology of the history whose sequence I frankly lost track of), some glossaries, some demographic data, and quite a bit about clothing (which clearly interested Wren, but that I passed by in the story whenever possible). Much of this is material I wish I’d had earlier, and that would have been a boon as part of a single volume edition. That and the re-read has made me reconsider my plan to split the e-book omnibus I bought into its individual volumes. I think they’re just better as a single large piece.

In any case, a worthy ending to a worthy series that should be much better known as a classic of science fiction than it is.

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