The epic conclusion of the Shader series! So many questions still demanding answers. Can anyone forgive Deacon Shader for failing to stop Sektis Gandaw when he had the chance? Is there a way to reach Aether, the world of the dreaming, to even try to stop the unweaving? What are the real plans and purposes of the mysterious Aristodeus? Is the Technocrat his own man, or is he being manipulated by older and more powerful beings than himself? Questions that Mr. Prior dives right into answering with The Unweaving.
After the stunning defeat at the hands of the undead armies of Sektis Gandaw, despair hangs over the survivors of the armies of Sahul and Aeterna. With the Technocrat retreating to the alien world of Aether with his prize, the heroes of this post apocalyptic Earth cannot reach their enemy and even attempt to stop the unweaving he intends to let loose upon the entire universe. And so, they care for their wounded and dead, each waiting patiently for the end of everything!
But hope is not entirely lost. For the strange thief Shadrak the Unseen has uncovered what he believes is a means to travel to Aether. And if he, Shader, and Rhiannon can cross the innumerable distance to the world of the dreaming, they know that Sektis has taken the Statue of Eingana to a conical-shaped, black mountain at the heart of a dead plain upon Aethir. All they need to do is reach the Technocrat, and Shader promises himself this time he will not fail to strike when fate presents him with a chance.
But once on Aethir, these three unlikely companions find themselves on a strange world with dangers and questions all its own. How can they gain entrance to Sektis’ mountain stronghold when it is ringed round about with flying death machines? How do they escape the Sour Marsh with its living, oozing malignancy that has slowly spread from the nightmare realm of Qlippoth? If they do escape, where would they go to obtain help? And does Shader still have the internal fortitude to kill Sektis if given another chance, or must someone else rise to the challenge?
For this amazing setup, the author delivers a pulse-pounding, fantasy finale!
In The Unweaving, Mr. Prior chooses not to rest on his laurels and set this story in the post apocalyptic Earth he had already lovingly created but instead introduces yet another amazing place. This time it is Aether, world of the dreaming; a land full of fantastical creatures, science run amok, and innate magic, dreamed into existence by a sleeping god whose wistful and nightmarish thoughts instantly spring to life. Here, a reader is introduced to new civilizations and races, slowly acclimated to its myriad environments, and shown its deep history. Truly, it is an amazing experience for any world building fanatic.
Upon this new canvas, bold, new characters also strut their stuff. And these new “stars” are not just throw away “red shirts,” but rather people who come to life and even steal the spotlight from our returning heroes: Deacon, Shadrak, and Rhiannon. The most amazing of these new characters being the Nameless Dwarf, who leaps from the pages like some sword and sorcery god, making you rout for him even though he is covered with the innocent blood of his own race. But there are many more. Each one growing into a real person before your eyes – whether you like them or hate them.
But never fear, the intriguing and spiritually torn Deacon Shader is still the pivotal character in this tale. His devotion to his faith and fear that it might all be a lie tearing him apart. His former love for Rhiannon a splinter of confusion within his soul; its ending something that he is learning to accept and deal with. His mistrust of his mentor Aristodeus the catalyst for a raging vortex of doubt that infects his entire being, making him wonder if he can indeed end Sektis Gandaw. And his unexpected confrontation with an Aether man of faith a pivotal moment in Shader’s life and his quest to stop the unweaving!
I have to say I really think Mr. Prior nailed this conclusion. It had everything I was looking for: answers to questions, intense combat, intriguing world, dark humor, and interesting characters in Deacon Shader, Shadrak the Unseen, and the Nameless Dwarf. In my review of the first book in the series ( Sword of the Archon) I said that this was one of the best indie fantasy I’d ever read, and The Unweaving cemented that status for me. Sure, there were a few things in the narrative that I could complain about, or a character here and there I believe was one dimensional, but overall, the Shader series absolutely delivered on its promise to be a fun, inventive, fantasy ride. One that I would encourage you to jump on and enjoy as well.