- Mass Market Paperback: 496 pages
- Publisher: Harper Voyager; Reprint edition (July 25 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0380808005
- ISBN-13: 978-0380808007
- Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.5 x 17.1 cm
- Shipping Weight: 295 g
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #773,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Gate of Gods: Book Three of The Fall of Ile-Rien Mass Market Paperback – Jul 25 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
At the start of the final volume in Wells's imaginative and complex Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy (after 2004's The Ships of Air), her resourceful and witty heroine, Tremaine Valiarde, and a ragtag band of followers have the magic of the Viller spheres to help resist the almost invincible invading Gardier. Unfortunately, too many pieces of the puzzle remain missing for them to effectively defend what's left of the country of Ile-Rien, let alone liberate the rest of it. When the sphere-entrapped sorcerer Arisilde sends them a spell that eventually leads to "a train station for world-gates," Tremaine and her cohorts may have finally found a way to drive the Gardier out of Ile-Rien. New readers are advised to start with the first in the series, The Wizard Hunters (2003), as an acquaintance with numerous characters and previous action is essential.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Two books ago, in The Wizard Hunters (2003), Wells showed Ile-Rien about to fall to the mysterious, unstoppable Gardier, who attack from black airships; thanks to a sphere created by sorcerer Nicholas Valiarde, his daughter Tremaine and a ship's crew of defenders are thrown into a world more primitive than Ile-Rien. In The Ships of Air (2004), the Gardier, revealed as hailing from yet another world, are revealed to be using magic they don't completely understand, and Ile-Rien's defenders learn enough to defeat the Gardier. Now, in The Gate of Gods, Tremaine Valiarde and her comrades have found a hidden Gardier base and hints of what may stop them, though it calls for jumping near blindly through more sorcerous gates, and Ile-Rien is running out of time. Wells shows us some very convincing characters in a desperate situation: attacked without warning, their usual weapons made ineffective, and with allies sometimes as strange as their enemies. The plot is very complex, so start the trilogy at the beginning. Frieda Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Well written and fun to read, the author dares to present a heroine who is truly "mad, bad, and dangerous to know." Or, as the old song puts it: Tremaine always is a headache but she never is a bore.
Notes and Asides: This is the end of the trilogy but not, I suspect, the ends of tales of Ile Rien. Start with volume 1, please or you will be majorly confused. I did, and I was still minorly confused. (Now let me think, Gerard is the sorcerer, Giliad is the . . . )
The only bad thing I will say...I did not like the very very end...last sentence was perfect...but the last two pages...EH! After all that I would have liked to see some romance!
My comment is on this book in particular, but it's also on the Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy as a whole because it's really just one long book cut into three pieces. This is not the kind of trilogy where you can start with any book. You *will* wind up being confused, believe me!
I suggest reading -- as I did -- "The Element of Fire" before launching into the Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy. Maybe "Death of the Necromancer" too. It's not absolutely mandatory in order to understand the series, but it does help. Without reading "The Element of Fire" you really don't understand the world of Ile-Rien in its glory days, so to speak. When the "Fall" trilogy opens, Ile-Rien has already been buffeted by war with the Gardier for several years. It's harder to see what the country means to all of the main characters and what they stand to lose without seeing what the country used to be before the war.
Ile-Rien is a fully realized world. The way Martha Wells depicts it, it seems as real a place as Paris or Vienna. What makes the world of Ile-Rien different is that magic is a reality there. It's a principle of life no different than scientific principles like gravity. Wells deftly paints a picture of what a society like that would look like. She also shows how Ile-Rien changes from the two centuries from "The Element of Fire" which takes place in an 18th century-like setting, to the time when "The Wizard Hunters" open, which is about the equivalent of our 1940s. Think WWII.
Ile-Rien changes both technologically and magically. Things like cars and electric lights are common in Vienne, the capital city, but there is also a sharp decline in the appearance of the fay, the fairy creatures that dominated so much of the first book, "The Element of Fire". This makes sense because the introduction of steel train tracks and other markers of industrialization have made it nearly impossible for the fay to be in Ile-Rien. As in the myths of our own fairies, the fay can't abide being near iron.
I would suggest this trilogy to any lover of fantasy because the Ile-Rien books are unusual. Fantasy is so often set in medieval circumstances; Wells dares to be different.
I do, though, have two major criticisms. First of all, after roughly 1,200 pages of story, the plot is wrapped up (a little too neatly) in less than a hundred pages. As I got closer and closer to the end of "The Gate of Gods", I found myself frustrated and afraid that the author wasn't going to answer the "big question" at all -- namely, who are the Gardier really and why did they decide to declare war on Ile-Rien? The attack, from the view of the Rienish, seems completely unprovoked. There is also the question of how the Gardier went from the peaceful society they had a mere generation ago to the warlike, totalitarian people who attack Ile-Rien.
Well, Martha Wells does give an answer to these questions. Is it a satisfying answer? That's not easy for me to say. By the time she finally got to the explanation for the war, I was just relieved that there *was* an explanation, period. This fear was somewhat justified because I don't think it was ever made completely clear why the villain in "The Element of Fire" did what he did. At least, it wasn't clear to me.
On the whole, I think the solution to the Gardier mystery could have been a lot more elegant. After the strength of the rest of the trilogy, it was something of a letdown. It felt a bit tacked on.
I also think that the explanation of the spell circles could have been described more clearly.
There are spell circles that both the heroes and villains of the trilogy either make or discover. They use them to travel between three different worlds. But, especially in this final book, Wells gets into a very complicated system of stationary circles, mobile circles, point-to-point circles, and so on. About a third of the way through this book, it really starts to all go over your head because it's like trying to conceptualize a long math problem without the numbers and symbols being written down on paper. In other words, it's hard to visualize. It was for me, anyway. I'm sure Wells' logic on the circles is sound. I take it on faith; I'm certainly not going to go over the text with a fine-toothed comb and check her accuracy.
The main character, Tremaine, is somewhat problematic. That is, she is a very complicated character and the entire story really revolves around her. It's not only that she's important, it's that everyone else always treats her like she's important. (They may not be entirely justified in treating her that way, but they do.) I, personally, liked Tremaine. That is to say, I didn't actually always *like* her, but I always found her interesting and I liked that about the character. But, I can easily see how other readers would be turned off by her character and anyone who falls into that camp isn't going to like these books.
I do give Wells a lot of credit for Tremaine because I think her very existence as the main character in an intelligent fantasy series answers the question that Joanna Russ and other feminist SF critics have posed, which is, can a female character really be the heroine? Is it possible to create a new and authentic narrative of SF/fantasy heroism that isn't just dressing up a woman in a guy's clothing?
Wells proves that it's more than possible.
Having said that, Tremaine (and, to a large extent, Ilias and Gilead as well) did get on my nerves with her hypocrisy.
There were clear villains in the trilogy, like Ixion the wizard and Balin, the captured Gardier spy. Ixion, especially, was obviously just pure evil. But there were other characters who I think were unfairly set up just to be "straw-man" obstacles to Tremaine and Ilias' relationship. Ander, Cletia, Pasima and Visolela were supposed to be these irritating, unreasonable people, but I didn't find them so at all. There were times when their respective goals and ideas were are odds with the main trio of heroes -- Tremaine, Ilias and Gilead -- but I think they were mainly frustrated because they didn't take the time to really listen or understand where these people were coming from. The three of them hated to be unfairly judged and taken for granted by others but they were very comfortable doing those very things themselves and that grated. No one ever called them out on their double standard. But then, in a war, there probably wouldn't be the time.
All in all, a trilogy that stands up to the best fantasy series out there, in my opinion. I wish my people could be exposed to it.
Lastly, I want to say that Martha Wells is one smart cookie for putting the entire text of "The Element of Fire" on her website. Once you get a taste of her writing and the world of Ile-Rien, you will be hooked. Sure, I got the first book for free, but then I went out and purchased all three of the "Fall" books. I imagine that 2009 won't come and go without me buying and reading the other books she's written as well.