Friday 8 April 2022

The Untold Story, by Genevieve Cogman; and Risen, by Benedict Jacka


The Untold Story, by Genevieve Cogman; and Risen, by Benedict Jacka

Two of the very best fantasy series of modern times have both come to an end with publication of the last of Cogman's eight-volume Invisible Library stories and Jacka's twelve-volume Alex Verus series.

The Untold Story sees Irene continuing her search for the evil Alberich while investigating the origin of the Library, aided by her dragon lover Prince Kai and the Sherlockian detective Vale plus the more recent addition of her young Fae assistant, Catherine. The finale is well up to the standard of the other books in the series and provides a satisfying solution to the mystery of the Library which also explains the entire structure of the strange multiverse.

Risen follows on immediately after the previous volume with Alex Verus trying to pin down his nemesis Richard Drakh while freeing his girlfriend Anne of her demonic possession and surviving his own possession by the Fateweaver. It is an all-action finale which I found difficult to put down.

I find it hard to determine which series I prefer. They have certain similarities: in both series the protagonists are relatively junior but highly capable; both of them are faced with powerful enemies with whom they clash throughout the series; they both have a few close, reliable friends and allies. One stylistic difference is that the Verus books are written in the first person, the Library in the third person, which gives the action in the Verus stories a higher-tension appeal. On the other hand, the Library series benefits from being set in an original and fascinating universe. Fortunately, we don't have to choose - read them both! 


Incidentally, I've just finished Jodi Taylor's Doing Time, the first of her Time Police fantasies which are set in the same world as The Chronicles of St Mary's. It is basically a continuation of that terrific series, with most of the characters being familiar but with the focus on life in the Time Police which frequently butts heads with St Mary's. Unfortunately, the Police HQ is nowhere near as much fun as St Mary's, or as interesting as the episodes in history which the St Mary's historians get to visit. The laughs are much more scarce until the familiar characters from St Mary's appear on the scene about three-quarters of the way through the book. I enjoyed it in the end, although I'm not sure about continuing with this series.