Friday, January 8, 2010


Title: Merciless

Series: Dominion Trilogy #3

Author: Robin Parrish

Genre: Adult Supernatural Suspense

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Merciless:

Hand over hand, Oblivion climbed.

The total absence of light surrounding him did nothing to slow his progress, his fingernails digging like talons into the black rock below the Hollow, ensuring a steady hold.

This was a mechanical process for him, nothing more than a necessary step of his birth. He did not tire, he did not feel fatigue or shortness of breath. There was moisture of some kind upon his face, but it was not sweat. He did not sweat. A drop reached his tongue and tasted of iron and salt.

Blood. It was the blood of the sacrifice. Of course.

Hand over hand, he climbed. Ever upward.

Death has been released on the world, and the only ones strong enough to stop it are bound to it.

The Craft: Being fully absorbed in a story is one of my favorite feelings in the world. To transport to a world beyond my own, to watch time fly by at break-neck speed, to observe and participate in events through the eyes and deeds of another—this is what lends an almost magical quality to story. But as a book reviewer, my job is to keep my wits about me when reading, and when I read with these extra barriers in place, a story’s writing must catch me in a way that far too few novels I the CBA capture me.

The Dominion Trilogy has been one of those exceptions.

It has been over two years since I read the first two books in the trilogy (Relentless and Fearless were reviewed in July of 2007), but the time gap vanished within the first few pages of Merciless. Suddenly, the most pressing problem in the world belonged to Grant, Alex, and company and no more time could be wasted in finding a resolution.

So page after page flew by, earning this novel true page-turner status, a designation I for one do not hand out lightly. But Merciless combines characters we care about with stakes (what will be gained or lost) we worry about with an unpredictable plot that keeps us guessing until the end.

So while there may be some minor “flaws” in this story (e.g. clunky backstory/exposition, a rockier ending), the overall effect is one riveting story.

The Content: I knew, when I started Merciless, that the prose would be good. Anything less, especially after the previous two novels, would have been a major disappointment.

No, my greater concern was the content. The content was the reason I gave the previous two books “to be determined” ratings, and concerns about the content kept me from this third novel well over a year after its release.

So it is with great relief, I can say that many of my concerns have been alleviated.

My biggest uncertainty dealt with the balance between the reader’s desire to see the hero triumph and the necessity of evil to be defeated. I do not want to say too much here, for fear of spoiling the story, but I can say that Mr. Parrish resolves the seeming paradox, and with a couple good twists, spins the end of this series to the satisfaction of all.

I also mentioned in previous reviews my concern about an almost white magic quality/handling of the supernatural rings. I did not see this in Merciless, which brings me to conclude that as the true nature of these things came to light, such concerns dissipated. Here, the rings acted more like advanced technology—neutral power that can be used for good or evil overall.

Beyond that, concerns are pretty minor: Violence continues to be of a high and more graphic level. Story, by necessity, is quite dark, but the light does overcome in the end. A couple parts of the premise (e.g. the race of Cain) seems biblically unfounded, but play a minor role, primarily as an explanation for events that those who need such explanations to believe the plot.

The only over concerns deals with interactions of one certain character—I’ll call him Grant’s Double to preserve plot points. Grant’s Double sometimes seemed to act out of character and rang untrue with what he seemed to represent. However, such could be my perception and I would require further study before making further judgment.

Overall themes of the book include the power of sacrifice and love; the balance of free-will and sovereignty; and the difference between choice and control.

Summary: Merciless wraps up the Dominion Trilogy with a bang. Fast-paced with plenty of twist, it makes a great page-turning and suspenseful read. Although content gray areas (e.g. violence and darkness) means Merciless is definitely not for everyone—I would recommend that those under sixteen avoid it—many will find this a truly fantastic read, in every sense of the word.

Rating: Writing—5, Content—4, Overall—4.4 out of 5 stars

See the reviews for Relentless and Fearless, or buy the whole set from my Amazon-affliate story, Words of Whimsy.

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