(2016) Edward Cox, Gollancz, £9.99 / Can$15.99 / US$12.99, pbk, 359pp, ISBN 978-1-473-20037-1
The Relic Guild are scattered across worlds of the Aelfir. Many of them are dead or dying. The Genii control everything. The war is almost over…
As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end and The Watcher of Dead Time is the final part of Edward Cox's reissued 'The Relic Guild ' trilogy. Book two ended, The Cathedral of Known Things, with some shocking events, major plot points coming to fruition and the obligatory cliffhanger, all nicely setting up the last book of the trilogy which contains a prologue and an epilogue and 21 chapters of high octane action, but like the first two novels there is also another strand set 40 years earlier as a Relic Guild of old do battle to protect Labrys Town, which isn’t really a town, but a city which houses a million souls and sits at the heart of the Great Labyrinth. Not surprisingly, given this is the final book, we only visit this crucial story line on three occasions in extracts called “The Ghoul”, “The Fire of the Nephilim” (which would be a great name for a band), and “The End of the Beginning” as there is enough happening in the here and now to grab the reader’s attention. As we have seen in the previous two books, the past does matter and it has informed and influenced present events as we learn the dire consequences of past actions.
Without giving too much away to those unfamiliar with events to date, the Genii, who are dark mages, have managed to seal off Labrys Town from the rest of the Great Labyrinth as they strive to bring back their dark master, Lord Spiral. He was previously defeated by the Timewatcher and her army of Thaumaturgists. Not only that, but the Genii have released a plague that is running riot throughout the city but, without the shadowy heroes known as the Relic Guild being present to stand against the Genii, who can the people turn to in their greatest hour of need? Meanwhile, what is left of the Relic Guild are dispersed throughout different worlds seeking out anything, or anyone, they can find to help them stand up against the Genii and Lord Spiral.
Those who have read the first two books might have been worried about Cox’s ability to bring the multiple story strands and plot points together for a satisfying conclusion? Yet, he really has managed to do this in a way that is reminiscent of the great Brandon Sanderson who is renowned for his multiple points of view and ability to crank up the action to achieve a breathtaking finale. Cox has taking his readers into the middle of a warzone. But wars have to end, and there will be casualties on the way to a final resolution, for there are greater powers are at work here than the Genii and the members of the Relic Guild can fathom: our heroes and heroines might only be pawns in a greater, cosmic, game, to be sacrificed for other, greater players and other, greater outcomes. Cox showed at the end of the second book that he can be ruthless with his characters, no matter how important they seem to be to the plot and to others around them, and how much the reader has come to care for them: there will be blood, but there will also be action, and answers, and satisfying conclusions for some.
To sum up, this has been a great debut series from Mr. Cox, who has given us a fantasy world inhabited by a variety of interesting characters (be they good, bad or in between) unlike any other. It is a remarkable achievement, but as this final book came out in 2016, and we are now in 2019, I ask you Mr. Cox, Edward, Ed, Eddy, what’s next? Something entirely new, perhaps, or a return to these portals and worlds you have created? I look forward to reading it, whatever it is.
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