Tempest Reborn (2013) FINAL BOOK
"Something Wikkid This Way Comes" (e-book novella set in JANE TRUE world)
Final books are always problematic for authors and readers alike, and this one is no exception. As the book begins, Jane is in a grief-fueled catatonic state after Blondie's death and Anyan's disappearance into the White Dragon. When she finally regains consciousness, she and Ryu (who is now a platonic friend) head back home to Rockabill to gather together Jane's friends and allies and come up with a plan to get Anyan back.
As the author sets Jane up to save her lover from his inside-the-dragon fate, she adds yet another deus ex machina to the story line. The first external plot device was the Creature—the all-powerful magical being from book 5 who now speaks to Jane in her head and lends her his considerable powers when she needs them. Now, in this book, we have the anthropomorphic Universe pontificating through the voice of Jane's human friend, Grizzie. The Universe introduces itself like this: "I am all, my child. I am everything....forces must be balanced....Power must be aligned, or all will fall." (p. 47) Then, the Universe teleports Jane to a Buddhist monk (who may be the Buddha himself), and the monk, in turn, refers them to an ancient Greek poem written by Theophrastus about alchemy.
That poem is supposed to contain allegorical clues that will lead them to a solution for taking down the Red and White Dragons without killing Anyan in the process. At one point, Caleb (who is translating and interpreting the poem) says, "This poem is a hot mess of nonsense," and I have to agree with him. Theophrastus is writing about alchemy, using metaphorical White and Red Dragons to make his points, so Jane and her friends must slog through many repetitive scenes in which they attempt to figure out how to apply Theophrastus' enigmatic figurative language to their Dragon problem. Just to give you a flavor for the inscrutability of the poem, here's one verse:
"Though not a stone, it yet is made a stone
The theme of the book is teamwork. Although Jane is supposed to be "the champion," she knows that if she didn't have her allies, she would have no chance of winning this huge battle. Unfortunately, the Alfar and the U.S. government don't understand that, and both want Jane under their control and on their team because they view her as a source of power.
Sadly, the whole Universe/Greek poem/alchemy plot line just doesn't work. Every time Jane and her friends get into their repetitious analyses of verses of the poem, the story grinds to a halt. I found myself paging past those scenes to get back to the action. Each verse of the poem is included in the book (sometimes multiple times), and the "literary" discussions are frequently long and drawn out. The concept of the Universe as an advice-giving, paternalistic voice feels forced and very weird. Late in the book, we are given to believe that the Universe has some kind of connection with a person from Jane's past, but that doesn't make sense either.
Another weakness is that for the first time, the author doesn't provide much interaction between Jane and her usual cast of eccentric supporting characters. Mostly, they just hang around in the background, assist in some battles, and recover from their wounds. Unlike past books, there are few scenes in which they interact in any lengthy or meaningful way with Jane.
All in all, I'd give this book a C, but if you've been reading the series, it's still a must-read just to get the final story on Jane's romance with Anyan and her life in general. If you haven't read the previous books, this isn't the place to begin because of the many, many references to past events.
BOOK 4: Eye of the Tempest
BOOK 5: Tempest's Fury