| Article by Daniel Eskridge |
Before the story starts, the author discusses the standard formula for a fantasy novel. It's pretty much dead on and rather funny. Birt thenproceeds to present the reader with Ending An Ending, a fantasy novel that breaks that mold.
Sanct is a man with no memory. At the beginning of the novel he finds himself wanderingin the woods carrying an unusual staff. He soon meets a band of "Seren". Theseare the servants of the world's deities who are on a mission to kill a rogue wizard.Sanct joins them and, on the way, learns a bit about the world (remember, he has nomemory at all). Afterwards, he sleeps for a few centuries, then wakes up to wanderthe world again, much to the consternation of the world's powers for whom Sanctpresents an array of problems. Apparently, his existence is at odds with the naturallaws of the world.
The book can roughly be divided into three acts. In the first act, Sanct learnsabout the world. Most of this part consists of conversations about the world.Sanct wanders around, meeting people, and talking with them.The problem with these conversations is that their purpose is too obvious. They exist todescribe the author's world. They seem a bit contrived and often do little to advancethe plot. Also, they are sometimes difficult to follow due to the author's use ofname substitution. For instance, in one conversation, a statement is made by"the man in the brown robe". I had to go back and reread it to figure out thatthe author was referring to Sanct. It seemed odd to suddenly refer to the maincharacter in such a way.
The second act is quite good and is, by far, the best part. In this section, Sanct finds himself protectingthe Princess Eiry whose family has just been assassinated. Joined by her bodyguardand a gibberish speaking young man, they are pursued through the world by wizards intent on their deaths, presumably the same ones responsible for the deaths of the Eiry's family.Here the plot has good momentum as the protagonists face one danger after another.
And then, the plot nearly collapses in the third section. Sanct and his party reach the safetyof a bucolic estate. Very little happensin this part. There is lots of talk of politics, but no participation in it. Events are always happening somewhere else, away from the characters.One character does give birth at least two times--her childbearing wasa bit confusing. Her first pregnancy is well described, but thereis no mention of her getting pregnant a second time, she just suddenly is again.(I'd like to add that there is a mistake atthis point in the text as the wrong character is stated as the one goinginto labor).
Another major distraction in the last section isthe fact that Sanct suddenly ceases to be the main character. The point of viewswitches to that of a different character. I felt as if I had suddenly been ejected from the storyand landed in a different novel. There is also a continuity error in thissection. The characters suddenly start referring to a dream theyall shared, yet there is no mention of them having the dream prior to that, thoughthe references seem to suggest that there should have been.
Had the last section been trimmed and compressed down to a few pages, the overall novelwould have been considerably better. This novel does show that the author has potential. If he can manage totrim the fat a bit more into a leaner narrative for future novels, he could produce some real page-turners.Ending an Ending is labeled the first part of Laurian Pentology, so there is ample opportunity.