Down to the Bone (Quantum Gravity, Book 5) Hardcover – 17 Feb 2011
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Robson has brought together a memorable fusion of myth and legend and the supernatural with the scientific. (British Fantasy Society)
Down To The Bone ties up most of the loose ends, bring closure and conclusion in a book that is complex but instantly readable. (British Fantasy Society)
Lila Black, half robot, all attitude, returns in her fifth all-action adventure.See all Product description
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As with the previous instalment, this starts off slowly, because there is such a complicated scene to set by now. Lila and Zal and Teazel have all been through the wringer, and it looks like those events may just have been the starter for what’s about to go down: nothing less than the end of all the universes.
The trio have to fight to save everything, with no hope of success, and with little clue about who the real enemy is. So they use their standard approach: attack full on. Things get complicated and violent, but always engaging. And there is an unexpected, but satisfying, conclusion.
In this volume Robson overturns some of the assumptions she has let you build over the previous four volumes as well as delivering a pacey and thoroughly enjoyable conclusion to the series. The narrative drags you around the three primary protagonists as they confront their own specific fates and offers a degree of closure as to the less well sketched out elements of their origination and back stories. If I have any complaints it's that towards the end of the narrative the pace accelerated to almost breathless pace and parts of the cohesive nature of the story fell to the wayside as Justina strove towards the end. A great read all round though and recommended without hestitation.
I have to admit though in this book I got a bit lost halfway through, I persevered and I'm so glad I did, the ending was just how I'd hoped it would be.
This series is one of my all time favourites and one I think I will end up 're reading again and again.
Amazing authour, will we see another Lila Black book?... I hope so but if there isnt, I don't mind too much.
The series has slowly changed over time, although the characters have remained constant. The first volume struck me as a 'fun' cross between, if you like, 'The Terminator' and 'Lord of the Rings'. But even in that first volume, it seemed that the elves, demons, faeries and all were metaphors for beings from different dimensions ('realms') opened up to Earth ('Otopia') after the Quantum Bomb. There was always a 'hard-science' edge to it all that stopped it sliding into typical fantasy.
The second volume slowly got more serious as travel between the realms and some needed character development fleshed out the bright ideas of the first.
The third continued straight off from where the previous stopped. But then the fourth, starting fifty Otopian years later, almost lost me. It is one of the most hallucinatory, trippy novels I've ever come across. Enjoyed it hugely but struggled to keep up with the twists, turns, multi-dimensional universe and multi-manifesting characters. I ended up just 'going with the flow', hoping that it would start to make some kind of sense somewhere along the line.
And, in this final volume, it just about does. After the serious weirdness of the previous book, this perhaps seems almost mundane in comparison. But there are subtle and careful explanations and reminders woven into the first third or so of the story. And after the more overtly 'magical' previous volume, we return to a sort of 'hard science' base again. For example, here's Xaviendra, drunk on faery beer, describing dragons:
'Dragons are archeotypal subdeic elementals, pre-dating the actualisation of the seven worlds and instrumental in their creation, by virtue of being organising principles and generative structures within which any amount of conscious realisation of the infinite may occur at any time. Persistence in material form occurs as a necessary process of becoming baryonically bound. Personality and etcetera accrue after this manifestation into linear temporal planes according to the usual principles.' (P36)
I hope you followed that. There's a good one for angels, too. And it is all relevant.
At first maybe it seems a little slow but then, curiously, in the middle third or so, on the surface it becomes faster, with Lila zooming off in her jet boots, facing down gangsters and vigilantes, drinking beer with Malachi in his yurt, cruising on her motorbike. And you kind of think 'yes, but what has this got to do with the plot?'. But underneath all this action, the main story is building slowly, in a sort of subterranean way, until in the last third, it surfaces like an iceberg. There's not really a big, final shoot-'em-up. Because of the slow build, it's much more satisfying than that, as all the threads (just about) tie up, all the surprises, twists, bluffs, double-bluffs - and all the games - come together into a worthy final scene.
It is, of course, well written. But it is also, now, complete. I've had my doubts in previous volumes, but I am very glad I stuck with it. This final volume is more than adequate reward. But, at the same time, I'm kind of glad that it's all over. Now I have new worlds of Justina Robson's to look forward to.