Review of THE HOUSE OF GAIAN by ANNE BISHOP
(third in the TIR ALAINN trilogy)
I gobbled up books one and two in this trilogy and THE HOUSE OF GAIAN followed suit. SHADOWS AND LIGHT stuffed plenty more characters into an already crowded plot, but that only keeps the pace of THE HOUSE OF GAIAN rushing along as we hop between different viewpoints, sometimes with very short chapters.
Typical for a character-heavy story, there's a lot going on, so even as I draw attention to certain plotlines and conflicts, keep in mind that I'm still omitting mention of many others! Two in particular ensnared my focus. First, multiple threats loom over Ari and Neall, but in THE HOUSE OF GAIAN one of those finally descends on their quiet, content life. Second, Morag has been a sad character throughout. As the Gatherer - with the power not only to "gather" people's souls but to do so preemptively (meaning her weapon is death) - making friends doesn't come naturally. Her ability alienates her from others and weighs down on her conscience. I nursed hopes that the third book would include an uplifting turn for Morag, since she's been bonding with many characters and finally earning her way into a makeshift family, but sadly that wasn't the case. A vision warns her that she will bring something terrible to those she loves the most. Unfortunately, due to the vagueness of the vision, she cannot know for certain what actions will and won't lead to a horrible outcome. It's a tragic plot thread and unexpected in how it plays out.
Bishop handles the inevitable clash between good and evil well by working in plenty of surprises, most of them nasty. After the building tension and then the high drama climax, the ending, though, is surprisingly gentle. The story tappers off with relationships and lesser problems continuing past the page. Don't be alarmed - the conclusion satisfies - but the resolution rests primarily in the main conflict, the war itself.