It’s taken me a while, but I’ve finally finished the books of Pellinor, the Naraudh Lar-Chanë, and the story of Maerad and her brother Hem. I listened to all four of these books on Audible, finishing The Singing late last week, and have to say, I did very much enjoy the series.
The stunning conclusion to the epic Pellinor series—four books telling an extraordinary tale of another world.
The Singing follows the separate journeys of Maerad and Cadvan, and their brother Hem, as they desperately seek each other in an increasingly battle-torn land. The Black Army is moving north and Maerad has a mighty confrontation with the Landrost to save Innail. All the Seven Kingdoms are being threatened with defeat. Yet Maerad and Hem hold the key to the mysterious Singing and only in releasing the music of the Elidhu together may the Nameless One be defeated.
Can brother and sister find each other in time to fight the Nameless One, and are they strong enough to defeat him?
I have much the same feelings about this fourth book of Pellinor as I did about the earlier ones. I loved it, for the most part. I thought it was well-developed, the characters were real, Irc was my absolute fave, and Saliman was a wonderful mentor to Hem. If Maerad was overpowered, that’s pretty standard in this kind of book, and at least she’s female, and has some weaknesses. Her relationship with Cadvan was complex and multi-layered, and her discovering of aspects of herself made this as much a bildungsroman as a story of saving the world from apocalypse. If this series was just about the story of these characters, I would definitely have it as one of my favourites, and be recommending it.
But it’s more than that. Every book in the series is presented as an academic text, a retelling of historical events which have been lost and only recently rediscovered. And I’m just not interested in that extra layer of story.
There are some books it works for – The Handmaid’s Tale, for example, although I have to admit the effectiveness of the final chapters of it had to be explained to me – and some where it just seems to add nothing. This series is one where the additional chapters at the beginning and end (and they add more than an hour to each audiobook, so it’s not a small amount of content) are just utterly pointless. They’re lists of acknowledgements, names of fictional universities, expansions on items of lore from this world, and explanations of how the original text was adapted and translated to fit this retelling.
Again, I’m not actually opposed to fictional discussions of how books were translated and adapted (The Princess Bride is an example of this that I really loved!) but I just don’t think it added anything here, and left me frustrated and bored, listening to content I no longer cared about for the sake of being able to say that I had actually finished the books.
At least I listened, though. I completely skipped the appendices after The Return of the King. Boring! This is clearly a structural tool that I do not appreciate at all. Maybe I’m missing something, but why follow what was a really great story with thirty pages of dullness? Not a fan of that. When I finished the actual plot, I was delighted, thinking this was great, but as I continued plodding through the end matter, I got bored enough to lop off a star.