Not only do you have to avoid spoilers for all three earlier volumes, you have to try and remember your feelings about those earlier books over a period of more than two years. But, the final volume of J. Gregory Keyes' alternate history science fantasy series Age of Unreason, The Shadows Of God jumped the "to-be-read" queue, and so arrived here, ready for review.
It is the beginning of the 18th century, and the final part of the Age Of Unreason series, The Shadows Of God wraps all the varied story lines of Keyes' series into a single, well constructed whole. Now we finally see just what Ben Franklin needs to do, how Adrienne resolves her many conflicts, and just what path Red Shoes needs to walk. Keyes has given us a world of alchemy and angels, where spiritual forces vie to end the threat of science. The Age Of Unreason is a world we never knew, whjere Newton discovered the guiding principles of alchemy, and the French threw comets at London. It's an alternate history, and like Mary Gentle's Ash, it is also in some forms a secret history, one that partakes of the myth structures used by Philip Pullman in his His Dark Materials trilogy.
Keyes has told us a big story, and told it well. Franklin's humanism and his republican sentiments turn the world upside down, giving us a world where kings have to fight for survival alongside working men, and where the only way for humanity to survive may be to make the ultimate sacrifice. There's not much more I can say. If you've read the rest of the series, you will pick this up and read it as quickly as you can. If you haven't, then you'll need to start with Newton's Cannon and you'll find yourself exploring a world that is not quite ours, one where the unreal and the real meet in chaos and fire.
Excellent stuff, and well worth adding to your bookcase.