Karou, formerly Madrigal and now a warrior for the chimaera, and Akiva, a warrior for the seraphim, have done a temporary truce, as well as a few members of each of their kind because a common enemy has drove them together to defeat him. They were formerly lovers but they know that as much as they still have feelings for each other, there's much more at stake. And the world has now been exposed to some of the seraphim aka angels and humans are going ballistic. The truce also hangs in the balance by a thread, especially since the former leader, Thiago, is actually not himself. Karou killed him in the last book and the soul of a friend Ziri who had an unrequited crush on Karou now inhibits the body of the White Wolf, and Ziri has to act the part to keep the clans together, stirring some discomfort especially since the original Thiago was in charge of the slaughter of thousands of seraphim. So with that, we have 90 outsiders and mismatched fighters doing their best to fight for their futures.
Look, this book started off just fine. For the very first time it introduced a few characters that had names from my home continent: Eliza, Morgan and Gabriel. And something I've admired in this trilogy is how it has a contemporary war between angels and demons and it involves transcendence into Earth and people go nuts, understandably. There are riots, religious ideas, signals of the end of the world, and desires like no other to report on it. The trilogy doesn't go for the derivative must-keep-it-a-secret side-plot.
In fact, I was considering a 2 1/2 or even a 3 by the 250 page mark for an interesting new character, the interesting decisions Karou has to go through with Akiva, Liraz, Ziri and everybody, and some twist-ups that are just simply...good. There's a twist where Liraz pushes Akiva into a portal just as it closes and Akiva feels like now he has no control and no ability to help his sister, no chance of him being by her side if she dies in the battle and that was splendid.
Then this new character, Scarab, gets introduced (or maybe he's not new and I wasn't paying attention from an earlier instalment) and we spend about eight pages in the middle of some actually tense material and my patience then started to thin. Did we really need a complete backstory five sixths of the way at the end of the trilogy? I immediately felt that this character didn't need to be in. I wanted to be with the characters I'd grown after two very long books to know quite well. It was then that I realized: You're staaaaallling! Everything was unraveling too slowly.
So how can I describe the ending without spoiling it? Well, I've in a way read Christopher Paolini's Inheritance cycle, and I'm sorry but in the last book, Inheritance, there's 100 final pages of simply farewells and putting things back in order, and it's harder than you think to organize an ending after the boss fight. But not since that book have I read a book with an ending that just dragged too much. It was also an overly unclear one, and even the characters admitted this. I kept thinking it was a joke, and there are thankfully a few things that actually got me a little anticipative and it was even close to doing something that would've shocked me, but I'm afraid that after everything, all these adventures these characters have gone through, all this fantasy, all these ideas, and it leads to this?
Something I've criticized throughout the entire trilogy is its overfill of characters with weird names almost like Laini Taylor's sef-indulgent and requires to point out the name of all the warriors aka extras in the battle. And she tries to have a brutal antagonist in Jael but he's barely in this book. He wasn't really that much in the other two, either. And in this land, all the big words and overattention to unnecessary details make this book not feel like the dangerous world it is. It can be hard to have your heart pound when there are sword fights that sound like Shakespeare is writing the choreography.
Not everything falls out of whack. Zuzana and Mik and Eliza manage to have some fun with granting wishes, which was something the start of the first book introduced but never picked up on. Honestly, I thought from outside research that the reason the chimaera were being killed by seraphim was because their bones held magic and the ability to grant wishes. That's the sort of original plot I yearn for in reading; there are so many opportunities. But that book, this book and the middle book never explored this enough. Couldn't Laini Taylor have at least done some wishes to create swords or see if they could channel energy to do something spontaneous?
Even at 600 pages, this conclusion to the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy feels incomplete, a lackluster finale that like the first instalment replaces a good antagonist and a gripping story with distracting poetry. And I understand that the main protagonist doesn't always have to be the big superhero, but come on!