Trudi Canavan – Voice of the Gods

As the promise of peace dies, two peoples are once more drawn inexorably into war.

Despite her hope for peace, Auraya is unable to avoid being caught up in the building conflict, and as the gods’ demands increase, she finds that she must choose between those she loves and those she’s sworn to serve.

Meanwhile, the Pentadrians, determined to take their revenge on the conquering Circlians, plot and scheme to bring down their enemies by means other than direct conflict.

The key to everything, though, may lie with the Wilds, who embark upon a quest for secrets buried long ago. Secrets that could change the world…

Voice of the Gods is the final book in Trudi Canavan’s Age of the Five trilogy. The previous books in the series, Priestess of the White and Last of the Wilds both had their ups and downs for me and this book is no different. While I enjoyed it a lot and it brings the trilogy to a very satisfying ending, it had one major bugbear that annoyed me to no end. As discussing it will provide major spoilers, I’ll be flagging the section in bold. If you don’t want to read spoilers, skip ahead to the ‘end of spoilers’ comment in bold further down the page.

***Here be spoilers***

My big problem with this book was something that I also remarked upon in the review for Last of the Wilds: all is not as it seems with the gods and the reader knows this, because we’re given clues left, right and centre. This isn’t necessarily a problem, as that is how storytelling works. What makes it a problem, though, is the fact that the reader could know this by the middle of the second book and the characters don’t find out until about thirty pages till the end of the final book. And that drove me nuts! While both the White and the Voices could be excused their inability to connect the dots, Auraya and especially the long-lived, and thus more able to look at it from a distance, Wilds should have put it together far earlier, at least that how it felt to me. Instead of creating suspenseful tension between what the reader knows and what the characters know and anticipation of the consequences when they catch up, it just became annoying and made me want to shake the protagonists. However, when everything does come together, it does so beautifully and makes for a satisfying denouement to the tale.

The puzzle of the gods was a cool idea: the Circlian and Pentadrian gods echoed our own Greek and Roman gods, being the same entities, but with slightly different names and sometimes slightly different aspects. For example Huan is the Circlian goddess of Love, but as Hrun is the Pentadrian goddess of Fertility. The same comparison can be made for all the other gods. I also liked the further echo of our real history in the ascension of the Cult of the Maker and the fact that it’s cemented as a proper religion by the conversion of an emperor, supplanting the old gods. When I made these connections by the end of the book, I thought it very cleverly done.

***End of spoilers***

While the above really did bother me, there were also plenty of good things about Voice of the Gods. I loved Auraya’s further development and her interactions with Emerahl and Mirar. I loved her slow acceptance of her being a Wild and of the things the other Wilds told her of the gods and history being the truth. In a similar vein, I liked how Reivan had to come to terms with the true nature of her leader, First Voice Nekaun. Both of them have to face harsh truths and deal with them, though I think Auraya did so in a more decisive manner than Reivan. Reivan’s story did succeed in creating a bit of confusion about who were the good guys and who the bad were; certainly it made it harder to see the Pentadrians as such, as we again learn more about their society and the other Voices. Imenja, the Second Voice seems a kind and gifted leader and even Genza, the Fourth Voice, whose birds of prey had such a devastating effect on the Siyee in the second book doesn’t seem as evil once we see her in this book. To make matters even more complicated, Auraya’s successor as a White, Ellareen, is stern and unbending and quite ruthless in her obeisance of the gods, which makes her highly unlikeable and a very flawed character. Canavan uses her characters to good effect and there are hardly any throwaway characters; they’re all developed and have a clear role to play in the narrative.

Despite feeling as strongly as I did about the spoilerish complaint, I did really enjoy Voice of the Gods. It provided answers to all the questions I was left with after finishing the middle book of the series and didn’t leave any loose threads. While not necessarily an ‘and they lived happily ever after’-ending, most of our main characters are left in a good place with plans for a future. The reader is left with a sense of definite closure after leaving the book’s pages; this story is done and there doesn’t seem an opening (or reason) to return to it at a future date. I like this; it doesn’t leave the reader wondering about those loose threads. As a final book in a trilogy, Voice of the Gods worked really well and was a good, solid read. As a whole, the Age of the Five trilogy was very enjoyable and worth a read.