Gravity’s Revenge is the third book of the Enchantress series, and continues the development of Elder Enchantress Hiresha, Tethiel the Lord of the Feast, and others.
This book is by far the most straightforward of the three, following a basic fantasy quest/action storyline.
The story opens with Hiresha escorting the daughter of her maid, Janny, up the magical Skyway to the Academy of enchantresses. On their way we are treated to both explanations and demonstrations of the Academy’s gravity-defying design. Hiresha also witnesses its failure as she sees the form of a young enchantress hurtle past to her death.
Just getting the other Elder Enchantresses to acknowledge the possibility of a failure of the college’s enchantments is Hiresha’s first problem. The Academy’s design is attributed to the Opal Mind – the Goddess of Intellect and Creativity. Despite the fact that they know how the magic works, suggesting the possibility of its failure is tantamount to heresy.
Before anything can be done about the possibly failing magic, another wrinkle is added to the tapestry – Bright Palms have ascended the cliffs and intend to take the Academy hostage in order to force concessions from the government. In short order, Hiresha is cut off from her stash of gems, her Spellsword bodyguard, and most of the rest of the academy.
The Final Step to Independence
Because Hiresha is so thoroughly cut off from her normal sources of support, she is at her most active and independent. This completes a character arc that began in Brood of Bones where she is almost entirely dependent on her maid and spellsword to accomplish anything. In the middle book, she has cast off many of the comfortable and confining trappings of pomp and title, but still leans heavily on her maid and spellsword. In Gravity’s Revenge she is forced to rely on herself to overcome both physical and mental obstacles.
The Theme of Moral Ambiguity
All three of the Enchantress books ask us to consider the nature of goodness, and what it really means. Like in real life, there are no wholly good or evil organizations in the Lands of Loam. Few characters present as wholly positive or negative, either. Gravity’s Revenge tackles this question head-on. The Bright Palms consider themselves the protectors of the innocent, but their methods can be callous to the point of villainy. The Academy is a center of learning and progress, but it’s hidebound and elitist. Even the Lord of the Feast, patriarch of a family of monstrous predators, finds himself acting on behalf of the greater good.
Gravity’s Revenge is a an excellent book, with a strong heroine and disturbing villains. Marling’s command of the language continues to mature, and the writing in this latest outing is solid – lyrical in places, without being stilted or obtuse. If you like action-packed adventures and books about characters trying their best outside their comfort zones, this one is for you.