So, something happened last week. I finished Katharine Kerr’s Deverry series. You might think, why mention that? People finish series all the time.. I know, but. There is always a but. I started this series almost five years ago with the intention of finishing it in fifteen months. Not five years. Still, I got there in the end…
As I mentioned before, I take part in an online bookclub. Part of bookclub is – you’ll never guess – reading the same book and discussing it. After a round of nominations and a tough as nails voting, back in September ’10, Daggerspell was chosen as the book to read for November. Since the last book in the series had come out then, the idea was put forth to read not only Daggerspell, but the entire series. One book a month. The premise of the series spoke to me, so I went along with what turned out to become the very first SLS(*).
For those who are not familiar with the books, this series tells the story of souls and incarnation. In the land of Deverry, souls are reborn again and again. But one time, tragedy struck and some souls never reached their destiny of wyrd, as it’s called. Because of this tragedy, these souls are fated to be reborn time and time again and to meat each other until the wrongs have been righted. Woven through the complexety of reïncarnation spanning the ages is the story of an ongoing war with a savage nation, the wisdom of the Elves, the antics of the Wildfolk and the troubles that the meddling godlike, immortal spirits tend to bring.
After having finished the series, I can tell with no small amount of certainty that this is a series where the whole is larger than the sum of the parts. Whereas the individual books are more than enjoyable on their own, when you take in the story as a whole, the scope of things has a way of leaving you lost for words. I do have to admit that this effect is lessened when the time between the first and last book is almost as much as five whole years. This is largely due to my inability to bingeread a series. I just have too many books to read, too many different tales to get lost in, that I don’t want to commit to a certain world for a large amount of time. Thus I do mix several series and sometimes quite a lot of books tend to come between two subsequent installments of a series. Since I’m not the fastest reader out there, time goes by. But while perhaps the overall story got a bit dilluted in time, the series as a whole is divided in four separate cycles and I feel like I got the overarching feel of each cycle pretty well.
While I did enjoy the series, I think it was a bit too long and after the third cycle, things could have finished there. This was not the case, however, and while the last four books were by no means bad, I feel like what could have been a powerful and moving end in book eleven was reduced to a watered down ‘And all was well..’ four books later. Along the ride, there have been some duds, but none as disappointing as the actual closer of the series. And while I am glad that I finished the series after such a long time, I can’t help but feeling a bit cheated. Cheated out of complete satisfaction, cheated out of an epic finale. Some things last a long time, but when you leave the fire burning for too long, even the brightest flame simmers down to a mere faint glow.
In what’s to come, I’ll tell you exactly when I read each book in the series compared to the original planning and some vague thoughts on the books.
(Deverry Cycle) 7.8/10
1. Daggerspell (nov.’10 – read nov.’10). Enjoyable and fascinating, a great introduction to the series! 8.5/10
2. Darkspell (dec.’10 – read dec.’10). The past incarnation wasn’t my thing. Also, the villain left a bad taste in my mouth. 7.3/10
3. The Bristling Woods (jan.’11 – read jan.’11). This one doesn’t ring any bells anymore. ‘Twas something with horses? 7.5/10
4. The Dragon Revenant (feb.’11 – read march’11). Funny thing happened. My mass market paperback copy was glued too far so I had trouble reading the letters in the fold of the book. While waiting on my train I bent the book just a little farther and it just snapped in two! 7.6/10
(Westlands Cycle) 7.6/10
5. A Time Of Exile (march’11 – read may-june’11). I was all to happy to go to the Westlands, but boy, the past incarnation was too long too dull. 6.4/10
6. A Time Of Omens (april’11 – read sept.’11). I read this one in less than a week, a record for me! Great great installment. 7.9/10
7. A Time Of War (may’11 – read jan.-feb.’12). Don’t know much, but it must have been quite good! 7.9/10
8. Days Of Air And Darkness (june’11 – read sept.’12). Another speadread and one of the best books in the entire series. 8.3/10
(The Dragon Mage Cycle) 7.9/10
9. The Red Wyvern (july’11 – read feb.-march’13). No recollection of this one. 8/10
10. The Black Raven (august’11 – read april-may’13). This is one I read on the train, cause I see myself sitting there and it was pretty crowded. Weird memory of mine.. 7.6/10
11. The Fire Dragon (sept.’11 – read august’13). Nope, doesn’t ring a bell.. 8/10
(The Silver Wyrm Cycle) 6.6/10
12. The Gold Falcon (oct.’11 – read june-july’14). The only Kerr I read in 2014.. Took me the whole two months as well as it was a hard one to get through.. 6.2/10
13. The Spirit Stone (nov.’11 – read jan.-feb.’15). Quite enjoyed this one. A step up from the previous novel. 7.3/10
14. The Shadow Isle (dec.’11 – read march-april’15). A lot of building up to the final showdown. 7.1/10
15. The Silver Mage (jan.’12 – read april-may’15). The final letdown. 5.6/10
So overall, this series was quite good and had some memorable characters. Jill, Rhodry, Nevyn and Dallandra are close to my heart. These characters were weaving an intricate tapestry over the course of several lifespans and it was a delight to get glimpses of them all. As with every series, it wasn’t perfect and appart from the dull and easy ending, its major fault lies with the ongoing of things. The war is neverending, the threat of Alshandra everpresent. The fact that the last cycle deals with several new main characters alongside some recurring ones made it hard to reconnect. I am, however, glad to have read this series, but I am equally glad to be finished. Some things last a long time, but every story needs an ending…
(*) SLS stands for the Dutch ‘SamenLeesSerie’, which translates as much to ‘SeriesReadingTogether’. Ever since Deverry, each year some series who have been completed are chosen to be read and discussed over the course of the year.