It’s difficult to maintain a consistently high standard across a series, and especially a prequel series. Czerneda has managed it here, introducing a complex, credible, and interesting world that partly explains the origin of the M’hiray – telepathic humanoids who can also teleport. This concluding volume of the prequel trilogy continues its close focus on the M’hiray themselves, though with tantalizing glimpses of the universe beyond them.
Czerneda does stumble on occasion, however. The defining moment of the M’hiray – what makes them different from the Om’ray they derive from – is somewhat murky, with too little explained, and too much reliance on mysterious, ancient artifacts that no one seems very interested in exploring. Still, the book is well written, satisfying, and ends well. Except…
Except that, after the epilogue-epilogue, there’s a novelette-epilogue telling us what happens next, and … murky would be putting it kindly. It’s frenetic and under-explained, and presents our key characters very differently than the preceding three volumes. There’s not even much attempt at handwaving to explain why they act as they do. It’s an attempt to set up the Mhiray for the next/original trilogy, but to me, it felt like a rushed afterthought. It is, at best, clumsy, which is not a word I’d often associate with Czerneda.
Overall, an effective conclusion to an intriguing trilogy. If you’re just reading it for that, skip the long epilogue. If, like most, you’re interested in the larger series, the epilogue is useful, but not really much fun.