The two most powerful people in a world called Kinderra prepare their final moves against each other in this third volume of a YA fantasy series.
Trine Mirana Pinal has only lived “16 summers,” but the fate of Kinderra is in her hands. She’s just learned shocking news about her mentor in the art of “the Aspects”—the great powers she wields. Trine Tetric Garis is the “Dark Trine.” (Trines have three Aspects, a rare phenomenon.) Garis plans to take over Kinderra using the “Power from Without,” a magic based on subjugation and death. As Mirana sets out from Rün-Taran, she’s determined to reach the “mountain-locked learning hall” of Caladazh. There, she must prevent Garis from retrieving the final passage of a journal kept by her formidable ancestor Jasal Pinal. The passage reveals how to weaponize Jasal’s Keep, the stronghold from which the warrior turned back Ilrik the Black’s armies. Among the treasured belongings of Jasal that are in her possession, Mirana finds his diamond amulet, through which she’ll focus her Trine skills in “Healing,” “Defending,” and “Seeing.” Her journey becomes more complex when she reluctantly teams up with Sido Rendel, Garis’ potential heir to power. Sido doesn’t want Garis to rule Kinderra either, because, as he tells Mirana, “We both believed he would show us how to be something more than what our destiny called us to be. Instead, he lied to us both.” While traveling with Sido, Mirana learns that he’s a man with a Codex. Using her Healing Aspect on his festering wound brings them closer together, offering her a chance at love after rejecting Teague Beltran, her “Unaspected” best friend, for his own safety. Despite her commitment to personal sacrifice, Mirana will learn that the Dark Trine’s cruelty has no limits.Donnelly’s latest installment pushes her meticulously crafted narrative to a dramatic peak. The Trine novels’ depiction of good versus evil—and the compromises made for the sake of each—is a heartfelt, streamlined alternative to the one found in the unwieldy Star Wars franchise. When Teague, who stands no chance of surviving a confrontation with Garis, says, “Mirana, I swear to you, I will find you, and I will never leave you again,” the third act’s romantic stakes rocket upward. Far from perfunctory, the love triangle that develops relies on worldbuilding nuances. As Mirana falls for Sido, who’s a Seer, it’s because he’s offered her “a place from which to begin to tame my own monsters.” Later, Mirana’s refusal to leave her horse, Ashtar, behind in battle hints at an expansion of the Aspects that changes a Trine’s core potential. The action sequences, often portraying psychic warfare, are striking (Garis’“mind attempted to breach her protections...the diamond she gripped now hot against her palm”). While not everyone dear to Mirana survives the final battle, Donnelly gives her cast a warm sendoff that validates her hero’s optimism. After one character ends his journey with the words “I’m a bad man who occasionally does good things....But maybe I might become good....Someday,” fans will be eager to see what unfolds in subsequent volumes. The author’s skill with revelatory character arcs and tightly woven suspense sets this saga apart from countless other series featuring fantasy worlds that draw on similar inspirations.
A highly inventive and gripping installment of an impressive fantasy saga.