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Amberlough Dossier #3
by Lara Elena Donnelly
TOR Books; 383 pp; $18.99
Published: April 2019

This is the conclusion of the Amberlough series. It is a fitting end to Donnelly’s glittering extravagant world.

The revolt is over, the Ospies (the bad, Nazi-like overlords) have been rousted and the various provinces of Gedda are working to bring things back to order.  The story focuses on Lillian DePaul, her son, Steven, and husband, Jinadh, and most importantly, Cyril, her brother. He had gone missing in the last novel, fighting for the revolution and seen now as a traitor. He had been caught and tortured.  Finally, finally, his whereabouts are discovered and he is rescued, and his love, Aristide Makricosta is out to reunite with him, with the help of Makricosta’s aide-de-camp and current lover, Daoud.  These are the main players and the forward motion of the novel is bringing Cyril back to Amberlough. The question is: will he face death or will he just linger in prison?

Of course, Aristide sees another option: Freeing Cyril and leaving Amberlough for a province where the two of them are free from their previous political entanglements to live together in peace.  In the meanwhile, Cyril is allowed a visit with his sister Lillian out in the countryside in their family’s villa where he and Lillian rehash the past and deal with the possibilities of the future. Maneuvering is in high gear in the city as to which of the new political parties will win and most importantly - will the winner destroy Cyril or just let him fade off in to obscurity.

Again, Donnelly spins her story with great elan: the description is fine-tuned as are her characters.  What I especially love is the overwhelming sense of exhaustion that infuses the whole novel. So much needs to be done to make reparations and rebuild. The glitter has faded into tawdry bits glittering dully in the corners of seedy taverns. Once splendid homes and offices have bare walls and worn carpets, the gilt is peeling, the curtains are tattered, the refinements - broken or utterly destroyed. The people are doing their best to bring things to a normal level, while dealing with partially destroyed train lines and buildings and the lack of food and supplies.  Even the weather is dismal with muddy roads and streets, snow flurries and bare trees and bushes.

So…do Aristide and Cyril manage to get away from everything? And how does the loyal Daoud take being left aside while the fey Aristide goes after his old (and true) love.

And what does Cyril want? How does he view being returned to the land of the well… semi-civilized? Seeing his sister, brother-in-law and nephew after years?

This novel has been pulled together exceptionally well. A worthy and well-written end. ~~ Sue Martin

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