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The Shattered Vine by Laura Anne Gilman
Rarely does a series end leaving me so completely content.
My fascination with the Vineart War (Flesh and Fire, Weight of Stone, The Shattered Vine) is with watching its characters grow. The grand quest of a fantasy novel carries the story onward, but it is the strength of the characters fumbling their way through what the world is throwing at them that makes the Vineart War so compelling. That strong characterization really shines in The Shattered Vine. Jerzy has been wavering on the line between slave and Vineart throughout the entire series, but it is in Shattered Vine that he really comes into his own. But its not only the main character that evolves throughout- his companions do a fair share of growing themselves, and together it is a pleasure to read.
The politics and mysticism of the world that Gilman has built remains strong to the end, providing a fascinating framework on which the events of the Vineart War build to and equally strong crisis point. What really makes the conclusion of the series stand apart is its ability to end. There is no drawn out aftermath necessary to pull the reader through loose ends being tied together. It may come off as abrupt- I was initially astounded at the lack of wrap up- but as I sat digesting the events of the series, I found my lips curling into a rather content smile. By the end of Shattered Vine I knew the characters well enough that I was able to sit back and appreciate the ending and everything it implied.
I would not have wanted it to end any other way.
If you are looking for a wonderfully unique fantasy with engaging characters and a deeply interesting world pick up the Vineart War books.