So here it is. The final book in the Rift Cycle, Book 4 – Elegy of the Void. I want to start this review off by stating two important things. The first is obvious, I have loved every second of this series and quietly shed a tear or two as the end was in sight. Those final few pages were the hardest to read simply because I didn’t want it to end. Halo Scot has done something so rare in any medium and it is making me, the consumer, feel. For that, I will always be grateful.
The second relates to doubt and is something that assailed me every time I opened the latest book. Doubt that Scot could in anyway match what was previously written and doubt that I could continue to enjoy such intensity again and again. What if this latest book wasn’t as good? What if the horror felt blasé or the characters had already reached a natural end and had nothing left to say, do or show?
Doubt that was very early removed as each book had me so transfixed that the idea of stopping to do something mundane was hard. Stopping to use the bathroom, eat, go to work etc. just felt wrong. It’s why I have demolished these books and it’s why I find myself already able to write my thoughts on this, the finale.
If you don’t know by now…
The Rift Cycle is a series focused on a dark future for humanity, where the war between gods and realms has been waging for far too long. A series that introduced us to two characters with powers based upon the season they were born in. Kyder and Rune, opposites but the same in so many ways. Two sides of a coin, light and dark but inexplicably connected.
Throughout book 1 – Edge of the Breach and book 2 – Echoes of Blood, we followed along with these characters. Watching them grow, one into a ruthless and savage boss of a gang and the other, into a caring but hardened warrior. The only thing keeping either grounded is the other. Book 3 – Eye of the Brave pushed the story on even further and brought to a head, the war that has plagued the realms for too long. Violence, sex, blood, death, destruction, love, redemption and more… it’s the Rift Cycle.
Stop reading this review now. Massive spoilers for the events that have previously occurred are to follow. This is your warning. Stop reading this and go read the books yourself or read our reviews below.
Still here? Ok.
The Queen is dead. Ra rules over Earth and his blood tax must be paid to keep the peace. A tax that requires human subjects to be gifted to fight in Ra’s other wars on other realms.
The bastard son of Ra, Kyder, head of the Apolli gang is allowed to continue to rule Zawad as long as he behaves and provides Ra with ‘soldiers’. Something Kyder, being the damaged soul he is, can do but how does he live without Rune? This is a man who is consumed by demons and only she was able to help quell them. How does he continue to fight and survive? By doing what he has always done. Plot, scheme, drink, smoke, fuck, torture, maim, murder and more. It’s who he is, he knows it and we know it. Stop expecting him to suddenly become a good man.
After all… he killed the Queen for Ra. Didn’t he?
Rune. Rune. Rune. Rune.
The Queen is dead. Understand?
Rune is not. Oh come on, don’t be surprised. Remember? Our beloved Julian Kyder is a liar after all.
Using his blood link powers, as all hope seemed lost and to stop Ra destroying the city, Kyder ‘killed’ the Queen. Wiping all her memories of life after her time at the Four Towers of Ma’at but most importantly, her memories of Kyder.
Her name is Danika and she is a fighter, something she has always been but now, to keep her mind occupied, she fights in the arena to be the champion of Zawad. It’s something she is good at and it is something she loves. Free from her burdens and able to focus on something other than those she has lost (including those she doesn’t remember).
It’s a return to a Rune that isn’t as evolved, and it certainly makes for a disconcerting read. However, it all makes sense even if it is heart-breaking to see the Apolli and Queen torn apart again.
So, where do we go from here? The only way to end this war and stop Ra once and for all is to close the Rift. Close the rift and there is no way for Ra to get to other realms. Earth and all others will be safe from his bloody wars. The question isn’t how, the question is who?
What makes Elegy of the Void an outstanding piece of fiction is how it’s far less coy with what is going to happen. The signposts are there and if you stare at them long enough, it all begins to make sense. There’s no question that Rune is going to get her memories back at some point in the story but how, when and why is what makes it so exciting to read.
It’s the same for Kyder and Ra’s fated final standoff. We know it’s coming, we know what it means, and we know how it will end (sort of) and the anticipation is almost too much. That it could ever pay all of this off satisfyingly seemed impossible, yet it is done. I couldn’t have thought of a better way for this book and the series to end even if it is heart-breaking stuff.
Unlike the previous books, there is one major difference here though and that is how Kyder tells his side of the story. Always willing to let us experience every faucet of his being, here he is tired of it and is far sharper and pointed towards the reader. He knows that we know what he goes through with his demons so is less inclined to share it all. It’s almost like a regression of the character. However, be under no illusions, he still is happy to share the blood, violence and sex with us in explicit fashion.
Does he go too far here? That’s going to be down to individual tastes but considering the horrors he has subjected us to so far, nothing surprises anymore.
What is ramped up in this story is the sexual aspects. Something that was hardly lacking before but is given fresh and graphic meaning again. Sira Rune loves to fight, she loves to eat, she loves to speak her mind, she loves to get wasted and she loves to fuck. The introduction of a new character who drives her libido wild makes for some amusing and very graphic moments. Any other character shitting in a lake, talking about her sexual desires in such a way would be off-putting but not Rune. It’s just one of the many reasons she has captured the imagination, just like Kyder has as he rips out organs, drenches himself in blood and burns flesh to a crisp.
It’s their stories. Two sides of a coin, light and dark, connected in ways that no-one can fully understand and the only people capable of saving the world. Even if it means the end of them both.
Long live the Queen. Long live the Apolli.
Elegy of the Void – Rift Cycle Book 4 (Halo Scot)
The Final Score - 10/10