The trick to fantastic storytelling is to let the characters make mistakes that are meaningful and significant to the arc, not merely stupidity elements to advance the plot. The latter shatters the illusion.
It’s like when Zorro fell off Toronado in the first Antonio Banderas version. Or when the Batcave was so easily destroyed by Jim Carrey’s Enigma. Or was it Penguin? I can’t remember (I blocked it from my memory.) Or Lord help me, when Scarlett turned her back on Tara IMMEDIATELY in that horrible sequel to Gone With the Wind. It’s those moments that make you scratch your head and roll your eyes. No one with true understanding of the character would ever allow that to happen. Right? Surely Batman would have had SOME security on the Batcave! RIGHT?
What does this have to do with the Night Angels trilogy I devoured this week?
I finished up book 3 tonight and in my most humble opinion, it was the weakest of the trilogy. Instead of finishing at a crashing crescendo, it shattered the illusion. Kylar did something really dumb and it bugged the hell out of me. His great weapon/gift, the black ka’kari that made him the immortal Night Angel, failed him. Or he failed it, I’m not sure. Surely this incredibly powerful artifact that enabled the previous Night Angel to live nearly 700 years would have a few security alarms in it. Surely the great wetboy I’ve come to admire after well over 1000 pages would notice if someone stole his SWORD? (while he was wearing it, no less) And replaced it with a fake? And by the way, his sword was another incredibly powerful artifact.
It had to happen for the plot, but it shattered the awe-inspiring illusion the story had carried up to that point. Until then, I would have said this trilogy ranked as one of my all-time favorite reads. After that stupidity element, the magic was broken for me. I finished the book and was pleased, but it wasn’t the same. The veil had been pulled aside, ever so briefly, and I couldn’t forget.
I know. I’m not a very forgiving reader. I can’t help it. Except for this one thing, it was a fantastic series. Thereafter, a few other tricks/surprises were stretched too thinly. Because my trust in the illusion had already been shaken? Very likely. The surprises just didn’t have that same oomph. They weren’t as well supported and hinted at, more like TADAH! moments that I didn’t quite buy.
Still, a great trilogy. I would definitely read more by this author. But I ended the trilogy not as emotionally invested in the end as I hoped. Guy Gavriel Kay’s Finovar Tapestry’s final book had me SOBBING. I read that book at least a decade ago and still love it. Just thinking about it can make me tear up, my heart aching with all the wonder and magic, agony and suffering, love and victory.
Beyond the Shadows left me muttering if only…if only… if only.