(2011), Justina Robson, Gollancz, £12.99, hrdbk, 352pp, ISBN 978-0-575-08565-7
Pyr, US$16, trdpbk, 428pp, ISBN 978-1-616-14379-4 /US$11.99, e-book, ISBN 978-1-616-14380-0
Ach, all good things come to an end, I suppose, and sadly Down to the Bone is the fifth and last of Justina Robson’s 'Quantum Gravity' series which started with Keeping it Real. If you are a fan of the series you will know roughly what to expect, but if you are new to the series, then I suggest you go back to book one and work your way through the books; you will not be disappointed.
What we have been getting treated to over the years is a memorable fusion of myth and legend and the supernatural, and the scientific! All of this is because the Quantum Bomb broke down the barriers between worlds and realms, meaning that humans now mix with demons, fairies and elemental creatures.
The first three books in the series developed the main characters and surrounding events in a pretty straightforward way (or as straightforward as things get with such a story line). However, book four started some fifty years after the events in the previous book and had more twists and turns than a rollercoaster ride through hell. Now, book five takes us back to the style of the first three books by starting slowly and winding up the narrative drive towards a cracking finale.
Down to the Bone continues the story of Lila Black, who started working for The Agency which our new world (and adjoining worlds) after the bomb went off. Life for her seemed to be following a normal path until she was magically wounded and she was reassembled as a cyborg who could become stronger by absorbing power from each reality she visits. Now at the climax of the series, it is time for Lila and her companions – a demon and an elven musician – to stand up against a great evil that is coming their way.
Book five ties up most of the loose ends of the previous books, and brings closure and conclusion to the major characters in a book with complex scientific themes married to a fantasy worldview, yet still in a style that is instantly readable. Even the best series have to end sometime, and not meander on becoming shadows of their former selves, so while it is farewell to Lila and her band, for Robson fans it is time to see what she can come up with next.
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