Shadow on the Stones: 01/30/09
The Guardians of the Stones trilogy by Moyra Caldecott ends with Shadow on the Stones. In it, Isar and Deva, the children of Karne and Fern and Kyra and Khu-ren, take opposing sides on the invasion the followers of Groth. The Temple of the Sun falls under attack. Can it be saved?
With Wardyke dead there's a need for a new antagonist. Rather than make it another stranger, an individual with unknown goals with sinister results, the Groths are presented as a horde of infidels worshiping an evil god.
Where The Temple of the Sun had too little action, Shadow on the Stones has too much. After nearly four hundred pages of meditation and the preaching of tolerance above all, this Lord of the Rings style battle comes out of nowhere.
Besides the battle of good versus evil, there's the prophesied romance between Isar and Deva. From The Temple of the Sun, it is presented as fate and a tragic one at that. The romance tries raise the tension in the narrative but it didn't work for me. It felt forced and ingenuous.
To the book's favor, it doesn't end as predictably as it could have. After a book and a half undoing the free will message of The Tall Stones, the final chapter does a complete U-turn on the predestination thesis of the second and third novels. What could have been a very tight trilogy ends up being a muddle of themes.