(2020) Trudi Canavan, Orbit, £20, hrdbk, 540pp, ISBN 978-0-356-51078-1
Makers Curse is the fourth and final instalment of the 'Millennium’s Rule' series following Successor's Promise, so if you haven’t read the earlier novels you really need to do so before you start this one.
This is a fantasy novel; arguably high fantasy as the characters who influence the story are primarily magic users, but perhaps in a low fantasy setting where magic and technology are rare.
This novel is set in multiple fantasy worlds, with some individuals have the ability to move between them and taking others with them. As per her other books, the world building for this series is incredibly detailed and well set out. The magic users are rare and restricted by the amount of magic that they can access from the environment around them. Magic is produced by creativity, both mundane and magical, which I think is a beautiful concept.
The protagonist, Rielle, is a Maker - someone who, when she creates things with magic also creates magic at a much higher rate than a mundane crafter. The downside is that if she uses her magic to give herself quick healing that provides functional immortality, like other powerful magic users, she loses her ability to be a Maker. However, she has heard a rumour that it is possible to do both, but in a form of prophecy that seems to be saying that if she does, she could threaten the very fabric of their worlds.
Needless to say, something else is destroying worlds already and Rielle needs the power to stop them, but what if getting that power makes the situation worse?
Rielle, despite having abilities the reader does not, is a character that is easy to empathise with. She is trying to do her best, without necessarily being able to see the larger picture. The people around her give her conflicting advice and criticism. This kind of scenario is one we are very familiar with, which helps to pull us into the story and care about the plight of the imaginary worlds.
It is not hard to miss the “moral” of the story where technology, albeit driven by magic, is destroying lands and it requires magic users driven by creativity to save it. Having said that it is not a preachy message and it is well woven into the story. Machines are made by people enslaved with punishing working hours and all they create belongs to those who enslave them. It is not difficult to see an analogy of corporate working life or perhaps a step further to sweatshop and places in our real world where workers rights are not considered. The celebration of the creative – art, song, hand crafting – contrasts with the misery of the fantasy version of a production line.
Overall, it is an imaginative feast of ideas and characters and well worth the time of reading four such large works.
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