Review: Seal of the Worm, Adrian Tchaikovsky

Rating: 4 out of 5

The long-awaited end of the series (well, if one was the reader…). The ending let me down, but as this almost entirely went in a direction I wasn’t expecting I’ve given the rating it has. In the end, surprisingly many different stories were brought together and finished fairly satisfactorily.

By the end of it, and though it doesn’t chive well with how I’m going to continue this, I enjoyed Che’s story most of all with Tynan a close second. Che’s story still revolves mostly around magic, but now with the added handicap of actually not having access to it most of the time. Tynan is the true soldier-administrator of the Wasps, and his progression is most satisfactory.

Yet, magic is given too much strength in this as the underworld’s (if that’s the right term) creatures, though non-magical, are a very strong counterbalance to the stories of technological marvel and progress we heard throughout the series up to ‘The Air War’. This is clearly intentional, and it’s not to say that there’s no place for progress—the scenes with Mantids and some other races show that clearly there is still a very vital aspect of ‘progress’ that we are investigating, even if it is not technological (cultural progress).

From that point of view, every civilization and state finishes the series in a very different state to what they were before. That journey has been a joy to behold. Both where they started out from and where they ended up at make sense, even if some of the individuals that influenced that journey were less than palatable. Yet, so many of the characters were entirely blind to everything that wasn’t theirs—what didn’t match the first instinct of how they were was discarded rather than pondered—throughout this journey, Seda, Tisamon, and Stenwold being the best examples. We can only hope, unlikely though it is, that we ourselves are more conscientious.

While I’ve been displeased with the direction of the series since ‘The Air War’, overall it was a very pleasant fantasy world to submerge oneself in. The highlight for me was ‘Heirs of the Blade’ with its catching feudal world, but many of the characters only caught up with their potential afterwards.

I’m happy that this time round I went through the entire series and did not just stop at Book 1 when it didn’t take my breath away.

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