Ada Palmer wraps up her Terra Ignota series with this volume. I finished The Will to Battle almost a year ago, so it took me a while to remember all of the characters, even with the handy list of characters at the front of the book.
I found it interesting how Palmer’s formal setup—this is all a history narrated by two writers—results in a distance from the immediacy of the war conflict. Instead the tension here occurs in a smaller scale—negotiations between warring Hive leaders, philosophical conversations between god (or alien) and man, slow-motion betrayals uncovered not through direct confrontation but through their ripple effect through connected systems. Greek myth bleeds into the future, and characters contemplate their (in)ability to write a different fate than the story would dictate. I am now very much looking forward to Emily Wilson’s new translation of The Iliad.
Palmer’s acknowledgments make explicit a feeling I had about the conclusion of the book—it really felt at times like a prayer for our own society to heed its better angels and work towards a future of healing.