The Circuit: Earthfall (The Circuit book 3) by Rhett C. Bruno (book review)

The third and final novel of ‘The Circuit Trilogy’ is ‘Earthfall’ is by Rhett C. Bruno. These books must be read in order and join together seamlessly to deliver a potent story. Because this review is for the final novel, it will contain vague spoilers for the previous books.

The Circuit: Earthfall (The Circuit, #3) by Rhett C. Bruno (book review)
The Circuit: Earthfall (The Circuit, #3) by Rhett C. Bruno (book review)

Earthfall’ opens with a reminder of what Talon’s daughter means to him. It’s hardly necessary as his entire journey has revolved around finding her. I enjoyed the quiet interlude. With eight months between books, I always appreciate a reminder of where we’re at and what we’re fighting for. This prologue does double duty, however. Buried in Talon’s memories are clues to the greater story here: the question of legacy.

The prologue is also the last quiet moment in the entire book. This is the conclusion to an explosive story after all. A quick recap: Earth is uninhabitable, but still valuable. Buried beneath the surface is the element used to generate artificial gravity. Next to water and air, it’s the most valuable resource in the solar system. The Circuit is designed to share resources and relies on the cooperation of all factions. When one faction, the Tribunal, moves to take control, the uneasy alliance is shattered and the only way through is war.

The story of this escalating conflict has been told through four points of view: Former Tribune, Cassius Vale and his creation, the android ADIM; a Ceresian miner, Talon Rayne, and ‘retired’ executor, Sage Volus.

Our four heroes are finally in the same place at the same time, but they’re hardly united. The architect of the war is playing one against the other. Cassius Vale is one of those characters I’d like to despise, but can’t. Not truly and honestly. While his actions are reprehensible, his motivations inspire sympathy. His son’s death could be a wrong place, wrong time equation. But he was there, then, and all of Cassius’s hope for a better world died with him.

Sage is still learning to fight for herself. Having been a tool for so long, she seems to need to give her loyalty to someone or something. In this final battle, she will learn the value of choice. Her character has come a long way since the beginning. I enjoyed watching her become her own person.

Talon is dying. However, he is going to make his last hours count. Even while working to rescue his daughter, he will put the needs of the many before those of the few. In contrast with Cassius, Talon is a hero that is easy to like. He is compassionate. He is the man who will move mountains simply because he believes it is possible.

ADIM continues to be the trilogy’s most fascinating character. In scanning other reviews, I noted a few comments to the effect these three stories might have worked better stitched together into a single volume. I disagree. I might be a rare bird, but I like the shorter length of these novels. The story is concise and well-paced. Bruno hasn’t given into the temptation to add multiple side-quests that ultimately do little other than distract both the heroes and the reader. It’s ADIM’s journey that really plays well in the three volume format, however. The first book is his infancy. ADIM learns the rules of his existence. The second book is his adolescence. ADIM begins to develop wishes and desires. He asks, ‘Who am I?’ and his creator Cassius answers. In the third book, ADIM reaches adulthood. He begins to write his own destiny based on the lessons of his youth.

I had developed a vague sense of unease regarding ADIM toward the end of the second book, ‘Progeny Of Vale’. My concern is not unfounded and that’s all I’m going to say. ADIM’s journey here is not something I wish to spoil. Instead, I’ll refer you back to my comment toward the beginning of this review. The question of legacy. ‘The Circuit Trilogy’ is a story of politics, commerce and religion in a world where everyone’s survival depends upon the co-operation of others. But it also answers the question over and again of what sort of world we should leave for our children.

Of all the characters in this trilogy, ADIMs arc is the most revolutionary and it’s his story that delivers the final answer makes this instalment the most powerful yet.

Kelly Jensen

December 2016

(pub: Diversion Publishing. 212 page paperback and ebook. Paperback price: $14.99 (US), £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1682303252. Ebook: Price: $ 4.99 (US), £ 3.76 (UK). ASIN: B01LZH86FD)

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