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It is rare that I get to read a fantasy series that I can say truly entertained. And yet, as we come to the third and last book in the Copper Cat Trilogy, I find that I will miss spending time with The Black Feather Three, Wydrin of Crosshaven, Lord Aaron Firth and Sir Sebastian.
Generally, I have a problem with books which fail to tell a story in a concise manner so you can understand that I approached this doorstop with some trepidation, I should not have worried. The reason that the book is as long as two novels is because, pretty much, that’s what you get. One tale is set in the present in a world finally bereft of much of its magic and missing the last of the gods, thanks to the previous exploits of Wydrin and friends. The second half is set in the past.
The first half of the book sees Wydrin’s mother employing the particular skills of The Black Feather Three to sail to the heart of a forbidding and possibly haunted island, there to claim a reported fabulous treasure. The journey is both perilous and suitably dangerous and before they know it the trio becomes a duo and finally the trio are all flying solo towards the same danger. Along the way Williams takes time to expand the mythos of her world, explaining how and where the gods came into being.
No book is a successful adventure without its villain; in this case her name is Estenn, a religious fanatic with an insane plan, which brings us to the second half of the book, where many of the characters return to a time when the Mages were still at war with the god. It gives Williams her Star Wars prequel moment of being able to show a time when the mages were numerous and at their strongest. Firth may be the present world’s last mage but he is less powerful than a mage from the golden age.
The books present high adventure with pirates, dragons and a world of wonders to explore. While this is all to the good it isn’t the real strength of the books. Writers should develop their own voice and in doing so create characters more solid than the ephemeral words which define them. Williams does this exceedingly well. You can hear her characters speak in your mind and, having spent time with them, understand what they are likely to say in a given situation. I’m sure that anyone who has followed the series will miss the three main characters.
So, we bid farewell to The Black Feather Three. Hopefully, though, not for the last time.