(2019) Kristen Ciccarelli, Gollancz, £13.99, trdpbk, 394pp, ISBN 978-1-473-21819-2
The Sky Weaver is the third and final book in Kristen Ciccarelliís 'Iskari' trilogy that began with The Last Namsara and continued with The Caged Queen. Though these can be read as standalone novels, they have a greater depth if read as a whole.
They are set in a classic fantasy setting with limited magic use and dragons.
This novel tells of how Safire, Commandant of the King of Firgaardís army, and Eris, pirate and thief, met. Initially they are sworn enemies, but they find themselves with shared goals, despite the disproval of those around them, and then perhaps affection or something stronger.
It also tells of the Shadow God and the Sky Weaver. How the Shadow God came to love a mortal and what happened to her and her family. Why the Sky Weaver let her most loyal worshippers die. What love means for those who might live forever.
Love is very much a theme explored in the novel, love of family and friendships, but also romantic love. The authorís treatment of homosexual relationships is no different from a heterosexual one and the lack of stigma in the fantasy setting arguably helps to further the cause of acceptance of this in our real world as well.
Safire is forced to choose between the love she has for her king who is her cousin and a girl who she has only just met but has growing feelings for. Her relationship with Dax, the king, represents her home, her safety, her family. We know from the previous novels that Safire is half-skral a racial heritage that meant physical separation from most of her family as a child, this leaves her emotionally vulnerable about losing those closest to her or not being worthy of their love. The idea that the only way she can have romantic love is to betray the love of her family is a dilemma that cuts to her core.
The love of the shadow god, known as Crow, for his mortal girl, Skye, has a surreal quality as he does not really understand her or her life and she has no idea who or what he is, but he proves in time that it is indeed a real love.
The dynamics of power is also a theme of the novel. In the earlier books Safire taking the position of Commandant is seen as a result of her skills and loyalty, but Eris sees it as the inevitable reward of being related to the King; the opportunity of privilege rather than one deserved.
Eris suffers at the hands of Kor, the pirate who inherited power, including power over Eris from his adopted father Jemsin. She resents this and by extension other inherited power, which perhaps become ironic when she finds out who she really is.
Leander, the Empress of the Star Isles, rose to power without the advantages of a hereditary monarch, but given she had access to power from another source and how she misuses the power now she has it, is hardly an advert for meritocracy.
Overall, the novel moves at a good pace, draws the reader into the emotional content. The Sky Weaver is an excellent finale to the series.
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