She Who Waits (A Low Town novel book 3) by Daniel Polansky (book review).
Warden is getting old. He’s tired of checking over his shoulder every day and weary of a life that brings no joy. The only good thing he’s done is to raise Wren, that and helping his old friend Adolphus to settle down with a good woman and honest trade. It’s time for one last job to keep them safe, one more plot, one more chance and then time to flee before his mistakes catch up with him. Can he pull off this final intrigue and send his enemies far away from those few friends he has left? The return of a woman he once loved complicates things and, before long, Warden is sure if he’s the player or the one being played.
‘She Who Waits’ is the third and final book in Daniel Polansky’s ‘Low Town’ trilogy. The series features Warden, an ex-soldier turned drug lord managing a host of shady enterprises and intrigues in Low Town. Unusually for fantasy series, these are definitely three distinct stories and are each separated by several years, with this instalment taking place around three years after the events of ‘Tomorrow, The Killing’, book two in the ‘Low Town’ series.
As with the earlier books, ‘She Who Waits’ is full of conspiracies and intrigues. It makes for an interesting plot, with many twists and turns but, also at times, makes it difficult to follow what’s going on. The other problem I had with this plot was that while there were a lot of strands all tied together neatly, ultimately it didn’t feel like much actually happened other than Warden going round and talking to a bunch of people, occasionally getting beaten up on the way. The love interest, Albertine, felt like she was thrown in to check a box rather than add anything to the plot and the strands featuring her were a bit tenuous. I think the multiple plot strands struggled to keep up with each other and never really felt like they belonged together.
I also felt that with so many different threads to follow, the characters lost out because we never really got to know any of them. Warden is probably the only real exception to this but, even though we learn a lot more about him than the others, he’s still lacking in something. However, his sense of weariness at the life he leads and the determined way he approaches things to try and keep his friends safe do come across well. In fact, the sense of weariness is the over-reaching feeling I was left with as I finished the book. It’s good to leave with some sense of emotion, but this weariness and sense of grim inevitability took something away from the action as we never really experience the fear or excitement that should come with those changes in pace.
I like the way the series overall has been structured, with its separate stories that allow us to get a sense of how things change in Low Town over a period of time, but I was a little disappointed in this final book. I wanted it to give just a little more in terms of character depth and emotions, even to give a few more unexpected occurrences rather than marching solidly towards a conclusion that seemed inevitable right from the start. It’s worth reading to finish the series but probably won’t be your favourite as it just doesn’t quite hit the mark this time.
(pub: Hodder & Stoughton. 405 page hardback. Price: £18.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-444-72139-3
pub: Hodder & Stoughton. 405 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 8.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-444-72144-6)
check out websites: www.hodder.co.uk and www.danielpolansky.com