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Title: War Master’s Gate
Series: Shadows of the Apt #9
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Format: Digital Edition
The 8th Imperial Army marches on Sarn, the last surviving Ant City. With the help of knowledge from previous encounters, the military leaders of Sarn have a ghost of a chance of surviving.
Collegium is facing the 2nd Imperial Army, “The Gears”. Having fought off the Gears twice before, the citizens are certain they can do so again. After the decimation of the Imperial Air Force in the previous book, Collegium now rules the air and that might be their chance to survive.
General Tynan,general of the Gears, now allied with the Spiders, must overcome Collegium and gain access to its library, which holds texts that Empress Seda has commanded him to take. But without an airforce, with “allies” known for betrayal and facing technology from the brains of Collegium.
Seda has found a wellspring of power, the tomb of Argastos. Argastos was a moth sorceror-warrior from the Age of the Inapt, the War Leader of the Host of all the Inapt. They all came together to fight against the Worm kinden but were unable to truly defeat them. So their sorcerors all came together and sealed the Worm away. They also sealed away Argastos and his war-horde, as “guardians” of the Seal.
Che is chasing down Seda to prevent her from getting her hands on this power of Argastos. In the world of the Apt, a sorceror-Empress would be something the world wouldn’t know how to deal with. Che must prevent Seda from becoming all powerful.
In the end, Che and Seda both gain Argasto’s power but in the struggle break the Seal of the Worm, a kinden that want to to make every kinden into their own kind. The Gears capture Collegium and all those who resisted are either killed or in hiding. Sarn drives off the 8th Army but the Empire and the Spiders have a falling out that prohibits any further advances by the Imperial forces.
Hmmm, where to begin? Well, knowing that there is only 1 more book after this one, unlike last time, I could appreciate this particular story arc a bit more. I wasn’t constantly thinking about “what was next” but could focus on the here and now.
The other thing was that I had forgotten it took this long in the series for Collegium to finally be conquered. For some reason I thought it happened earlier in the series, even though I’m reading this series all over again. Just goes to show why I need to re-read things!
The end of the Felylal, the mantis kinden taking shelter in Collegium, that was heart breaking. What is left of a whole nation, men, women, children, grands, all throwing themselves against the Gears and dying. It really hit me hard this time around and honestly, I’m not even sure I noticed it last time. Kids. I actually put off writing this review for quite a few days just to deal with that.
On a “magic” note, Che and Seda’s journey was just as interesting, if not more so than the fight between the armies and cities. Last time I kind of just skimmed it. This time, I considered it to be the main part of the book. We see how much Che has changed through the eyes of those who are now in her entourage. Instead of being dragged around, or sent off, or somewhere on someone else’s behest, she is here because of her own will. Seda on the other hand is shown to be more afraid than ever, even while having more power than almost any other woman in the history of the world.
This is the kind of series that is complex enough that new things will emerge upon every re-read. I bumped it up a full star from last time because I enjoyed it even more than last time and have no doubt that when I get around to re-reading this series yet again that I’ll enjoy it just as much then.