The Poison Song was truly an outstanding conclusion; someone needs to find an antidote to cure the severely underrated state of this series ASAP.
After twelve books in a row, I’m gratified that I finally finished a new book that I can rate 5 stars easily. Here we are, the third and last book in The Winnowing Flame Trilogy. Now that I’ve finished binge reading this trilogy within a week, I can safely say that Jen Williams seriously deserves a much larger readership. C’mon, this last book was a bloody amazing read; it’s easily one of the best concluding volumes I’ve ever read. Even though this is the last of the series, there was still new content—such as Noon’s past, the Fell-witch’s background, the winnowfire’s origins—for the readers to learn about. It has all come down to this installment; the past two books and the first half of The Poison Song were preparations for the heart-hammering second half of this book. I honestly don’t think I’ve read many fantasy series that are as cleverly crafted and imaginative as The Winnowing Flame Trilogy. Williams made sure that each installment has its own main conflicts to resolve and, at the same time, she was able to stealthily build solid foundations for the searing conclusion of this series. The plotlines, the characters and their motivations, have been fully established and Williams was able to utilize them properly to deliver a glorious and unforgettable book; I found myself completely enthralled by William’s storytelling ability.
“What you brought back, darling, was the truth. Which is rarely comfortable and never painless, but often, ultimately, worth knowing.”
As I’ve said before, what made this series escalate from great to amazing was the spectacular characterization of its diverse characters. Williams seriously has immense talent in writing memorable characters that are easy to empathize with. Characters that I thought weren’t important in the first book ended up playing a huge role. I loved reading the gradual developments in their respective personalities; none of the characters stayed the same as they were since their first appearance. So many events have happened and changed them. The themes of family and connection that Williams implemented were evident in the characters’—both good and evil—interactions. I found the changes in the character’s emotions and actions to be genuinely resonating, and they brought an incredibly powerful emotional weight. There were a lot of well-placed moments of reminiscence about their first encounters with each other and how they’ve changed since then; they were subtle, efficient, and mind-blowingly effective in tugging my heartstrings. It’s very rare for me to find romances in the high fantasy genre that’s not infuriating to read, but the relationships—whether it was family, friendship, or love—that Williams cultivated were extraordinarily beautiful and poignant. The characterizations and developments were extremely well-written throughout the entire trilogy. So much that by this installment even a small act of affection like calling another character “brother” or “friend” while they prepared for the final doom became tremendously impactful.
“Stay strong, my bravest, dearest friends. We fly as one.”
The final battle was exceptionally breathtaking. I really didn’t expect the scale of this series to become this big, but The Poison Song has greatly exceeded my expectation. When you’re going to read this book, think about the apocalyptic events you’re reading and how the series actually began with a wealthy archaeologist who hired a sexy vampiric-elf as her henchman, and then they stumbled upon a witch that can throw green flames; you’ll be emotional and amazed by how far they’ve come. Sic parvis magna—greatness from small beginnings—was thoroughly achieved with finesse. The last 40% was superbly unputdownable and filled with large-scale vivid battles. Destructive aerial-battles were engaged and colorful conflagrations blazed with all their might, as all living sentient races and creatures fought to decide the fate of the world.
“Beginnings and endings, flesh and bone, ink and paper. These are what stories are made of. Have we come to the ending yet?”
There’s nothing left for me to say except that I’m going to miss this series and its characters dearly. No matter what the genre is being written, a good author can tell you a good story, and a great author can make you think “Wait a minute, things are looking pretty bad. Will they make it?” However, a brilliant author can pull you into this state of full immersion that removes any chances of having any other thoughts occurring in the first place; you’ll be too engrossed from being transported into the world to think about anything else, and you’ll live the journey of the characters that exist within its text. As many incredible storytellers have done before, THAT is exactly the kind of escapism experience provided by Williams in this riveting novel. The Poison Song is relentlessly intoxicating and stupendous; Williams has landed an utterly satisfying and bittersweet ending to The Winnowing Flame Trilogy. I absolutely recommend this trilogy to every adult fantasy readers. Whatever Jen Williams write next, even if it’s a Dragon Age fanfic, I’ll read it. Thank you to Jen Williams and The Winnowing Flame Trilogy for keeping me occupied for one week; it was truly time well-spent.
The Winnowing Flame Trilogy: 13.5/15 stars
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