Malim, time-traveller, psychopath and heir to the Family’s tyrannical dynasty, is dead. An uneasy truce exists between the head of the Family, Rendail, and his estranged son, Arghel. But the fragile peace is about to be shattered. From their far future comes a power greater than they have ever seen, and it has just one purpose – to avenge Malim’s death. If they are to survive, Rendail and Arghel must put aside their old feud and work together. Meanwhile, their only hope of victory lies in Rendail’s grandson, Alex, who has elected to live out his life in the 21st century with his son and the woman he loves. But Alex has gone missing, and time is running out.
Review by Catriona Troth, Words with JAM, December 2012
Malim’s Legacy is the final installment of the trilogy that began with Tyranny of the Blood. It returns us to the often violent world of the Dancers, a race whose lives run parallel to humans. They live unimaginably long lives, and they have the Gift to use their minds in strange and powerful ways. The Gift manifests itself differently in different individuals – and every so often it throws up a terrible madness that threatens both humans and Dancers alike.
As with middle book, the action here is divided between 6th Century Scotland and the present day. Rendail’s insane son, Malim, who had the coveted power to travel across time, has been defeated. But he left behind an unsuspected legacy in our time – a blond haired son with the face of an angel, and a power and madness that exceeds even his father’s. Now his mind is seeking out everyone involved in Malim’s death, determined to destroy every last one of them. And caught in the middle is Mickey, the short-lived lover of Alex, a gentle Dancer who is more closely connected to Malim than anyone suspects.
The story moves back and forth between the two time periods, the plots interwoven and interdependent. By the time the story reaches its climax, each time shift leaves you feeling as if you’ve been jolted, protesting, out of dream, only to be plunged back into another which you left, heart pounding, a few chapters earlier.
If there is one thing that sets Reed’s writing apart from run-of-the-mill fantasy writing and makes it accessible to non-genre fans, it is that every character is grounded in recognisable human emotion. Her Dancers may have super-human powers, their battle may rage across more than a milennium, but we view it through the actions of individuals about whom we really care. At bottom, Malim’s Legacy is about the relationship between father and son, brother and brother, about guilt and responsibility, and the line between sanity and insanity.
This may be the third part of a trilogy, but the book stands on its own. If you have read the earlier books and know the history of Malim’s father, Rendail, then you’ll see the first part of the book through his eyes. If you haven’t, then you’ll see it through the eyes of Arghel, Malim’s brother and Rendail’s estranged son, to whom Rendail’s secrets have yet to be revealed.
If this is your first encounter with the Dancers, I guarantee that by the time you finish Malim’s Legacy, you’ll be rushing back to read the other two.