2018; 102 pages. Book 3 of “The Chronicles of Willow Grey” trilogy. New Author? : No. Genre : Young Adult Dark Fantasy Adventure (per the author and sounds good to me); Coming of Age. Overall Rating : 9*/10.
The Voyage of the Pale Ship is over; young Willow Grey has returned to Tirlane! Or what’s left of it, after the evil Lamia and her unstoppable minions have devastated the fair land, killing anything and every living thing they can find. Vibrant, green plant life has been reduced to brown-black dead fields, and the corpses of animals, large and small, lie strewn everywhere.
A few creatures remain alive: mostly those that are fleet of foot and have found handy places to hide from the marauding predators. Willow hopes to come across some of these, to aid her in her quest, since her beloved mentor, guide, and most of all, friend in this strange world, Henu the Wealdsman, did not make it to the end of the voyage on the Pale Ship. Now Willow must face her Fate alone.
Alas, only Doom lies ahead for her. The Lamia is many times more powerful than Willow, and commands legions of fearsome and merciless beasts to do her evil bidding without question. Yet it is Willow’s lot to face the Lamia in a battle to the death.
It’s a struggle that Willow cannot win, and the outcome can only be her death. Yet the puzzling words uttered by both Henu and the wise old healer Starababa keep echoing in Willow’s mind.
“Your time with us is nearly over. Remember, it is not death if you accept it.”
What’s To Like...
All Things True is the final episode in the trilogy The Chronicles of Willow Grey. The author labels it a “Young Adult Dark Fantasy Adventure”, and that seems apt to me. The tension has been building for two books now, and it is time to face the Lamia.
The storytelling style is the same as in the other two books: there are lots of critters to meet and greet (most of which are deadly), lots of places to visit, zero slow spots, and lots of magical objects to ooh-&-aah over, including the thule which every creature good and evil covets.
The amazing thing is that Greg James packs all of this, including the final showdown, into 102 pages, which my Kindle says I should be able to read in just slightly more than one hour. That makes it a novella, but don’t think of it as a quick read for a book report that’s due tomorrow – this is not a standalone novel, and there isn’t much of a backstory supplied, so you'd have to read the whole trilogy. Indeed, since the other two books in the series are each less than 200 pages in length, this series screams to be marketed as a bundle.
There aren’t a lot of characters to keep track of, and since there’s a war-to-the-death going on, the mortality rate is somewhat steep. Willow finds a couple new companions to aid her in her quest, and the lessons she’s learned during her voyage with Henu have turned her into a formidable mage, at least when confronted with beasts other than the Lamia.
The book is written in English, not American, which I always enjoy. So things are meagre, feathers may be moulted, and you might apologise for your lack of armour. The 102 pages are divided into 17 chapters, and a beautiful poem that serves as the Epilogue. This is a YA book; I recall only a single cussword: at one point an evil critter calls Willow a “bitchling”.
There are some neat extras at the back, including a map of Tirlane and a glossary, which comes in quite handy, even for those of us who have read the earlier books. The Table of Contents is also there, and I can't for the life of me figure out why that wasn’t at the front of the book.
“She’s still here then?”
“She will be until the last trace of life has left Tirlane,” Nastonik said, “which could be any day now. The Behemoths will not rest until they have consumed everything that draws breath.”
“D’you think she can help us stop them?”
“Stop them? My, my, you are either ambitious, or very stupid,” Nastonik said.
“You don’t have to be rude.”
“I am merely blunt. A Beorhan says what a Beorhan sees.” (loc. 535)
“I’m surrounded by nothing but death. Viril and Nastonik, I fear I will lose them too.”
“Then, you must lose that fear and let it go. Fear is a part of life but if we live according to it, that is no life at all. It is said our time is like a narrow sliver of light, much like this candle’s flame, caught between two kinds of greater darkness; the time before we are born and the time after we are gone. All we have is this and so often we spend it unwisely.” (loc. 569)
All Things True currently sells for $2.99 at Amazon, the same price as the other two books in the series, The Door of Dreams and The Voyage of the Pale Ship. Greg James has a slew of other novels, novellas, and novelettes available, all of them in the $0.99 - $2.99 range.
“Were you thinking bringing home a two-legged stray would be enough of a good deed to make the rain turn to vittles?” (loc 113)
Ah yes, what to say about the ending without lapsing into spoilers?
It is a satisfying conclusion to everything that’s been building for three books now. It contains a twist that I can only describe as stunning, yet is, in retrospect, quite logical. It is powerful and poignant; at the same time both positive and dark. Chapters 16 and 17, plus the Epilogue poem, left a lump in my throat even as they reconciled all the strange things that have been happening since the first page of Book One.
Okay. I’m done gushing now. You can read the reviews of the first two books in the series here and here.
9 Stars. I'm guessing, but I get the feeling that The Chronicles of Willow Grey is a Labor of Love by the author, possibly for one Natalie Kaleva, to whom this book is dedicated. All Things True particularly resonated with me, as I have recently experienced a similar situation in my life.
Then again, it all could be just a storyline that Greg James dreamed up, and he’s simply that skilled of a writer.