The Girl and the Moon by Mark Lawrence
HarperCollins, Paperback, £8.99
Review by Ian Green
The Book of the Ice epic fantasy series from Mark Lawrence concludes with The Girl and the Moon. The series takes place on Abeth, a planet locked in a frozen winter save for a verdant belt at the equator. Beneath the ice lies hidden caves, buried cities, and ancient intelligences with inscrutable goals. Yaz, an ice triber, has completed a perilous journey and arrived at the Corridor, where she is overwhelmed by its greenness. She must reach the Convent of Sweet Mercy, where young girls who show old gifts are trained by nuns to use their talents. But there is no safety there, and the nuns might decide to execute Yaz before she uncovers the Ark of the Missing beneath the emperor’s palace.
The Girl and the Moon is a triumphant, blossoming ending to the tale. For a trilogy that began with a single point of view and a sometimes oppressively simple setting (ice, and lots of it!), slowly, the tale has grown to incorporate more viewpoints, and in the final volume. We break free from the ice and reach the lush lands of the central belt. Here we get to see a greatly different society, and the peculiarities of the ice tribes who have made it so far south are thrown into stark contrast. Throughout the series, tropes and elements of science fiction and fantasy have been intertwined, and whilst this is largely well done (notably time stars, which are a treat!), the motes of harder sci-fi are hidden amongst more general magic systems. This series takes place in the same world as another of Lawrence’s trilogies, the Book of the Ancestor, and one frustrating element of the current trilogy is what could be seen as a lack of payoff of some of the larger mysteries of the world- whilst this is a story complete in and of itself there are enough questions regarding the setting that remain unanswered to leave the reader itching for more.
The Girl and the Moon is an interesting and fast-paced read with an engagingly straightforward style and a nice core of characters. It is deeply satisfying to see the resolution of some of their arcs after such a long journey. This is high concept fantasy that is assuredly delivered.