Endgame (A Sirantha Jax Novel)
Ending a series can be tricky. An author needs to have a story that provides a reasonable amount of suspense while simultaneously giving the characters closure on whatever issues have been plaguing them. Recently, Ann Aguirre ended her popular SiranthaJax novels with Endgame, a book that might have worked better as a next-to-last tale than as the series finale.
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“SiranthaJax has the J-gene, which permits her to “jump” faster-than-light ships through grimspace. She loves nothing more than that rush, but the star roads have to wait…
Her final mission takes her to La’heng, a planet subjugated during first contact. Since then, the La’hengrinhomeworld has been occupied by foreign conquerors.
All that’s about to change.
Now, as part of a grassroots resistance, Jax means to liberate the La’hengrin. But political intrigue and guerrilla warfare are new to her, and this will be the most dangerous game she’s ever played—spies and conspiracies, a war of weapons and hearts, and not everyone is guaranteed to make it out alive…”
Up until now, I’ve loved all of the books in this series, so I was really hoping for a bang-up finish to the story. Unfortunately, I don’t feel that’s what I got. The story of La’heng’s liberation had much more to do with the La’hengrin race as a whole and less to do with the overarching story that Jax has been part of. Most of her issues have been with the Conglomerate and their use of grimspace jumpers. While I certainly have no issue with resolving the problem of La’heng’s occupancy, I don’t think it fit well as a finale. I would have expected to see Endgame and Aftermath swap places in the continuum.
The other problem with the La’hengrin liberation storyline is that it drags on for a long time. The novel consists of many instances of “fight a battle, lay low, fight a battle, angst about weariness, fight a battle” for most of the book. Having the war drag on for so long kills the pacing, and this is a series that has mostly kept the pacing up and moving quite briskly.
As usual, my favorite character is Vel, the Ithtorian bounty hunter and Jax’s constant companion. I am completely in love with how their relationship is portrayed, because it shows a depth and compassion that’s missing from many portrayals of love nowadays, no matter what form that love takes. In contrast, Jax’s relationship with her lover March remains contentious throughout the novel, with the pair having the same fight over and over until they magically decide not to have it anymore. Jax’s bond with Vel felt more real to me than her bond with March.
All of what I’ve just written may sound like I didn’t like the book at all, and that’s not true. I still enjoyed the characters, and I still enjoyed watching the various events that happened on the way to La’hengrin freedom. I must admit, however, that the book did feel a bit off-kilter for me, and it’s for the reasons stated above. It may simply be a case of having expectations of the book that didn’t materialize, but I really do think that ending the series this way, while providing a reasonable story in and of itself, didn’t suit the series as a closer.
Endgame ultimately left me wanting a little more than I got, but it does provide a firm conclusion to the series. Those who wish for more in Jax’s universe, take heart: the author has said that she’ll write more in this setting, if not about Jax herself.
This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on October 8, 2012.