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Eastern Tide: The Aldabreshin Compass, Book Four review

Setting a course for home.

Author: Juliet E McKenna

Publisher: Orbit

599 pages · £8.99

ISBN: 1-84149-377-5

Rating: 3/5

Three sequels and three points of
the compass down, sceptical warlord
Chazen Kheda is finally heading home.
The Aldabreshin Compass series has
done a decent job of sitting between
epic and small scale fantasy over the
last few years, mixing plenty of politics
with its heroes’ ever-increasing sideline
of freelance dragon slaying.

This concluding part is no different,
although it does suffer from last book
fatigue. Whether it’s the illegal status of
mages, the team’s relationship, the
structure of the courts that the
characters visit, or the dragons tearing
things apart, we’ve seen all this before.
At times, it feels like not a paragraph
goes by without a call-back to an older
adventure; a reference to a time when
the group wouldn’t happily put out to
sea to take on a dragon.

As they finally set about the return
voyage, it’s hard to shake the feeling
they’re re-treading old ground and
ticking off the political subplots, debt by
debt and slight by slight, rather than
building to an epic conclusion. Certainly,
there’s little point leaping into the action
without having read the earlier books.
But such continuation also extends to
the rich depth with which the world is
described,. This is also the volume where
the characters have to start thinking
about what happens when they do get
home, from the risks of being skinned
alive for consorting with mages, to how
it affects their relationship.

Such things provide closure to the
series, though with little but passing
interest if you haven’t been following
the dragon-slaying odyssey up to this
point.

Richard Cobbett

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