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Gods Old and Dark: Book Three of The World Gates    by Holly Lisle order for
Gods Old and Dark
by Holly Lisle
Order:  USA  Can
Eos, 2004 (2004)

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* *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

The final volume of Holly Lisle's World Gates fantasy trilogy offers a strong conclusion. We learned about the two fate-bound sisters in Memory of Fire (Molly's story) and The Wreck of Heaven (Lauren's tale). At the end of the second volume, the two were in dire straits. Lauren was being actively hunted, not only by the world-destroying 'Night Watch', but by a powerful and enigmatic 'dark god', the dragon Baanraak. Molly, terrified of losing her humanity, found that this was coming to pass. Of the two, Lauren is the life-bringer, fated to restore life to all the worlds. Molly is her protector, destroyer of the dark gods.

Lisle's premise is ingenious. The multiple worlds that exist above and below Earth all have a store of magic. A corollary of this system of magic is that everything has consequences. Evil deeds feed dark magic; good deeds enhance life magic. Lauren is linked to life magic, but the dark gods exist by drinking the deaths of whole worlds. Earth has been ripened to that point, and the dark ones are ready for their deadly harvest. The author creates a suspenseful climax, in which Earth's champions mount a desperate last stand against the Night Watch. These champions are few, led by the ancient immortal Thor, who has returned to protect Lauren and her son, with the feeble help of the merely mortal Sentinals. The latter are Earth humans who work to minimize the spillover from sloppily-worked magics.

Gods Old and Dark is well named. Lisle breathes life into such characters as the dragon Baanraak, and Rekkathav (the rather insectoid flunky of the head of the Night Watch). Despite their dark natures, the two are oddly sympathetic, unlike the other, terrifying dark gods. There is much heroism and adherence to duty, no matter the cost in the story. Molly, Lauren, Pete (who loves Lauren), even Baanraak and Rekkathav show admirable resolution in the face of adversity. Immortals are not exempted (the author's explanation for the gods' immortality is ingenious and worthy of respectful attention). In short, Lisle brings the World Gates saga to a satisfying conclusion, with a hook or two that may permit other stories in this intriguing universe.

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