Ascendant’s Rite by David Hair
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Series: The Moontide Quartet (Book #4 of 4)
Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
Pages: 848 pages (UK paperback edition)
Published: 5th November 2015 by Jo Fletcher
Against all odds, Ascendant’s Rite was a tension-fused and satisfying conclusion for The Moontide Quartet.
“Life is a series of transactions. We all give to receive.”
It’s safe to say that my feelings for this series are incredibly conflicted. After my disastrous experience with the previous book, I pretty much had minus zero expectation towards this book. Ascendant’s Rite, the final book in The Moontide Quartet by David Hair, however, proved to be quite enjoyable as a concluding installment, and overall it was almost a complete return to the quality displayed in the first two books of the series. Seriously, the myriad of problems I had with I’mhorny War disappeared here. There were no more hundreds of pages of lusty thoughts, overlong detailed sex scenes, cock-hardening, or rape-enjoyment and craving for flowery-nipples. Either the previous book was written by someone else, or readers have complained about the gratuitous sexual content, or maybe Hair has spent all his morbid sexual imaginations on that book; there’s no more of that nonsense. The love and romance in this book felt fitting to include rather than exist for the sake of fanservice, and everything progressed at a steady pace in this action-packed conclusion.
“I have experienced much. I know what to expect. And I have a father and a mother who are my models in this: they’ve shown me that love and marriage aren’t all joy. There are reasons of sadness and suffering, there are trials, there are temptations. Sometimes marriage is a dugty and a burden; this is known. But they also showed me, every day, that making the sacrifices that love requires is always worthwhile.”
Although the previous installment did leave me feeling disconnected with many characters of the series, I must say that my investment in Ramita, Alaron, Kazim, Elena, and Cera persists once again in Ascendant’s Rite. It’s undeniable that the characters of this quartet have withstood insane mental and physical trials, and I don’t have it in me to miss knowing what happens to these characters. There were also plenty of breathtaking moments in the action scenes as every faction clashed, and the second half of this 800-pages tome was filled with large-scale battles that combined gods, magics, and violence magnificently.
“My defence is that conflict cannot be resolved without contact. Understanding cannot be reached without interaction. It is an imperfect answer, that naively assumes that some on both sides desire peace and fellowship. But that naivete has never been disappointed in the long term. Despite the prevalence of war, the majority crave peace. Among that majority there is a sub-group who are prepared to give their lives for the sake of that peace, and they are the true heroes of any conflict.”
It is unfortunate that despite enjoying many parts of this book, I did have several grievances with this concluding book. The first—and biggest issue—I had with this book is Ramon’s and Seth’s storyline. I haven’t been a fan of their journey since Scarlet Tides and by this stage, after the damages caused in the previous book, I have completely lost interest that reading through their chapters—which were a lot—became very tedious and boring. In my opinion, their story felt too disconnected from all the other main characters; it’s not until the last quarter their stories finally converged with the rest of the cast. The second problem I have with the book is that the magic and the gods felt too out of control and sudden here. Many pivotal moments happened but they seem to come out of nowhere; more valid explanations in how they work were needed because they felt quite deus ex-machina. Finally, there was a lot of superfluous side characters and content with this series. More names, pages, or more installments don’t always mean it’s a better epic fantasy series; I personally think that this series would’ve worked so much better as a trilogy than a quartet. I mean, more than half of the previous book could’ve been cut, I also doubt I’ll miss a lot of enjoyment if I decided skipped ALL of Ramon + Seth’s POV chapters. There’s also the issue that the world of Urte felt way too similar to our Earth; the world-building was basically including and mixing many mythologies and lore of both Western & Eastern cultures without changing their names.
“We should never condemn an entire race – or a religion – as evil. Such generalisations are clearly wrong. It is individual deeds that we must judge, in the context they are made. It is a harder path, stripped of the simplicity that princes and priests love.”
Ascendant’s Rite provides an unpredictable and relatively satisfying ride. There are still some unexplained plotlines but Hair might be leaving them to be resolved in the next quartet that takes place in the same world: The Sunsurge Quartet series. Even though I have enjoyed the first two books in this series, and overall I did had a great time with this one, I doubt I’ll be continuing to the next series. Do note that this series is considerably praised a lot by those who’ve read it. If you’ve read the first two books in the quartet and you enjoyed them, I suggest continuing because there were indeed some amazing moments in this book that fans of the series will definitely enjoy reading.
The Moontide Quartet: 13/20 stars
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