Review: Full Circle by Pamela Freeman (Orbit)

Full Circle by Pamela Freeman

I told you last month that you’d see a review of Full Circle sooner rather than later. And here it is.

The thing about good endings is that all that you’ve read up to now becomes clear. This is one of those endings. Not only does bring about the stand-off between Acton’s people with the ghosts of the Travellers raised by the stone-caster Saker.  But also twists the battle and shows the events in a new light.

In fact one of the main themes of The Castings Trilogy is to show that what see in people isn’t always the whole story. And in the case of the Domains the whole basis of their society is based on a lie as revealed in Deep Water.

With the ghost of Acton raised the gods have told Bramble to take him to Sanctuary and along the way he spreads the message of his return. But that is only a minor part of the resolution of this story. It comes mostly in decisions of other characters we’ve been following like Leof, Sorn and Martine and their timings make sure decisions they are surprising I found myself giving a little cheer in some cases.

Other themes here are blood and memory and it’s a refrain that’s echoed every time Saker raises his army. It fuels them with hate. The worrying niggle has always been how do you resolve a story with ghosts that can’t be killed? And as Bramble and crew point out if you kill Saker someone else will just take his place.

This is especially true when Thegan, the main warlord of the tale, decides to use the Travellers as hostages to protect his town against the ghosts and others follow his lead. There is a good use of conflicting ideologies as those towns that work in harmony with the Travellers get different response from the ghosts than Thegan does.

Going back to the resolution Freeman gives  another bigger picture above and beyond Acton’s people and the Travellers and shows why the gods are so interested in the outcome of these events and the importance that the conflict ends in the write way.

Without  that context the trilogy could have ended differently but less successfully. Freeman makes you question things as she’s done all along by filling out the lives of those minor incidental characters like the woman that will regret her beauty for ever more.

It’s not a happy ending in some sense but it is right and the different threads have been tied off though frayed and loose in some cases. I’d happily read it again from the beginning with fresh eyes to see all the clever twists and hints Freeman laid along the way.

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