Oh, the humanity! Everything everybody wrote below is true: great, gothic science fiction, creeping horror, technology, darkness. Wonderful, additional storylines thrown in. Oh, and real character development. The first two books (three, including Chasm City) sold me on the Epic Quest of mankind against the Inhibitors, with wonderful little mysteries thrown in, along with tantalizing hints that they all might be related.
But what do we have here? Toss the major connecting thread between the books... the Inhibitors explained away in less than four pages. Magical "out-of-nowhere" saviors who are hinted at only twice in the entire story, and done in a way that they seem nothing more than a callous afterthought.
Imagine this...you've worked your way through the first two (three, including Chasm City) books, slowly grown used to and then developed an affinity for Mr. Reynolds' wonderfully unique style. You're happy with the subtle hints at 700 years of human history, having been given enough of the details to fill in the dark, gothic story with your own imagination. But five hundred pages to go, you start thinking, "Now we'll see the culmination of it all!" Two-hundred fifty pages, and you're thinking, "Ok, anytime now..." One hundred pages, and there's a sinking feeling..." Fifty pages, with the ending to the central theme of the series nowhere in sight, you finally realize the awful truth: this whole storyline was *never* about the Inhibitors. It was *all* a mechanism to force us to fill in the blanks of the future history of humanity, with the Inhibitor battle only a convenient way to move things along.
Until, that is, Mr. Reynolds couldn't write about it anymore. So, with nothing more than a rubber stamp called "Epilogue", the story ends. No mysteries solved. Mademoiselle? Nope. Conjoiners? Nope. Plague? Nope. Inhibitors? "Poof!" they are gone with the aid of magical fairies, only to be replaced by newer, badder bad guys. But none of this was what this story was about. As a literary mechanism, I applaud Mr. Reynolds' achievement. If you read books to be entertained along the way, this whole series is wonderful and I highly recommend it - I enjoyed 3/4 of it immensely. But if you like a story with a good ending, it is supremely disappointing... I, for one, feel cheated. It's actually worse than Hamilton and the Night's Dawn ending. Mr. Reynolds' style is to leave much to our imagination, and for most of this series he does so brilliantly. But, where he carefully takes thousands of pages to weave us a story of the past 700 years, he give us the future in a mere four.
Oh well. I suppose it was worth it.