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Shadows of the past...,
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This review is from: The Chessmen (Lewis Trilogy 3) (Kindle Edition)
This third part of Peter May's Lewis trilogy is stunningly good. As a long-standing enthusiast for May's work, I believe these three books are by far his best work, and this last one may even be the best of the three.
May's descriptive prose and sense of place are, as always, wonderful. The bleakness and yet beauty of this harsh weather-beaten landscape, the way of life and traditions of the islanders, the still strong grip of the ultra-conservative Church - all of these are woven seamlessly through the story. And the story once again is focused on shadows of the past coming back to haunt the present.
Roddy Mackenzie, an old friend of Fin's, has been presumed dead since his plane went missing 17 years ago but his body was never recovered. Until now...and with the discovery, old memories are dragged up, old friendships and enmities re-evaluated and old crimes lead to new ones. From the start, the landscape and weather of Lewis play a vital role in a story that feels as if it couldn't be set anywhere else. The story then cuts from past to present as Fin remembers his school and student days when he worked as a roadie for Roddy's band. Despite the different timelines and the fact that the book changes from first to third person and back, the story never loses momentum on its way to a climax that is as shocking as it is unexpected.
For anyone who is new to the series, I would urge you to read them in order starting with The Blackhouse, then The Lewis Man, since there are aspects of this book that could give away the plots of the previous ones. My only disappointment is that this is billed as the last of the Lewis books. I hope Peter May can be convinced to reconsider - I believe there's more mileage in these characters and this setting yet. But if not, then this is a thrilling ending to what has been a truly great series - highly recommended.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 27 Mar 2013 13:28:05 GMT
D. Harris says:
Definitely to be read in order, I think - apart from anything else the ending of the second book would be spoiled by reading this first.
As to this being the best of the three, I'm less sure... I found the "I" sections (where Fin recalls his past) to be more jarring here. I'm not sure whether this is because not much happens in the "now" untiol the final third of the book, or possibly because we had Fin's recollections of his past in The Blackhouse and it now seems slightly odd to go back and get a different version, as it were? (That wasn't an issue in "The Lewis Man" as the "I" sections were by someone else).
It's still a really really good book, though.
In reply to an earlier post on 27 Mar 2013 13:51:12 GMT
In retrospect, I tend to agree with you. The Lewis Man is the one that has stayed most in my mind mainly because of the way May handled Tormod's dementia, and because I found the story of the children very moving. I see what you mean about the two different versions of Fin's early life, thought that didn't really bother me too much. But I loved both the start and the end of the Chessmen - the description of the loch bit at the beginning (trying to avoid spoilers!) and I thought the end was really dramatic - I wasn't expecting it at all. A great series though, it'll be interesting to see what May does next.
Thanks for commenting :-)
In reply to an earlier post on 18 Sep 2013 23:57:42 BDT
Fekete Melinda says:
I've just bought the Chessmen as a present not knowing that it is a part of a trilogy. Do you think it would still be enjoyable for someone who haven't read the previous books? Thank you!
In reply to an earlier post on 19 Sep 2013 00:09:31 BDT
Yes, each one has a separate plot so could be read and enjoyed alone. However, May does tie up a storyline hanging over from the second book at the end of this one, and Fin's relationship with his family develops throughout the three books. So although it can be read alone, it contains information that might spoil the reading of the earlier ones. If possible, they're probably better read in order.
Sorry, that's probably not quite the answer you were hoping for!
Best wishes, FF
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