Meanwhile, Max, an Arbiter of the Split Worlds Treaty, is getting closer to uncovering who is behind the murder of the Bath Chapter.
Can he stay true to his sworn duty without being destroyed by his own master, whose insanity threatens to unravel them all?
All is Fair is the final book in the Split Worlds trilogy. It’s impossible to discuss it without giving spoilers for the previous books. If you haven’t read Between Two Thorns and Any Other Name and do not want to be spoiled best turn away now, because HERE BE SPOILERS!
After far too long I’m finally reviewing All is Fair, the concluding volume of the Split Worlds. It’s no secret that I absolutely loved the previous two books and that I adore Emma Newman. So with that disclaimer and caveat it’ll come as no surprise I loved All is Fair as well. Cathy’s story developed in a direction I had expected, but what I hadn’t counted on was the extent to which Newman would take it. And there was a huge twist in both Max’s and Sam’s stories, which kept me on my toes until the end.
As in the previous books, the main story arc is Cathy’s; she’s settling in to her new role as wife and Duchess of Londinium. In Any Other Name I finally got on board of the good ship “Cathy and Will” and while I still liked them as a couple and they certainly seem to be genuinely developing feelings for each other, I did have my doubts at certain points in the novel. This was mostly down to Will, who came across as not that nice of a person at points. Much of this is due to the pressure he is under from Lord Iris, but some of it is just Will staying in the tradition of Nether Society and being uncertain of Cathy’s loyalties. Meanwhile, Cathy needs to build bridges and mend fences to get where she wants to take the Nether society, not least with Will, as he’s the first one she’ll have to convince if she’s to be successful. I really connected with Cathy, especially due to her struggles when re-entering the London Court. The anxiety she battles is a familiar feeling to me and I felt Cathy’s fears deep in my own gut, which says a lot about Newman’s ability to convey emotion on the page.
All is Fair adds a new point of view, that of Margritte Semper-Augustus Tulipa, Cathy’s erstwhile friend and former Duchess of Londinium. I loved her story arc as it’s quite dark and shows the depth of grief and how much it can distort who we are and how we want to live. Magritte can’t imagine a life without her Bartholomew and wants to do anything to avenge him on William and if she can’t have revenge, she wants his honour restored. This angry desire makes her do and say things that are against her regular nature and it’s her gradual realisation of said fact that makes her such a compelling character. Her storyline also has the added benefit of Rupert, the Sorcerer of Mercia, who is a capricious creature and a very likeable sod. He made me laugh every time with his complete lack of decorum, which baffles the genteel Margritte.
A familiar set of characters is the duo of Max and Gargoyle. The latter once again stole the show and the scene where Gargoyle and Max grieve together was just exquisite. The interplay between Max and the Gargoyle as the manifestation of his emotions is at its most pronounced in All is Fair and Max even starts to gauge his own reaction to events by that of Gargoyle. Max and Gargoyle continue on their quest to discover who killed their Chapter and all the sorcerers except Ekstrand and Rupert and to expose the corruption at the London Chapter. Their investigation is a complicated one and the identity of the culprit – and presumably the source of the corruption – is both surprising and interesting.
This leaves Sam. Sam’s story was surprising. Still reeling from his wife’s death in the previous book, I loved the way Newman gives him closure on Leanne and the demise of their marriage. I hadn’t seen it coming at all. He is taken in by Lord Iron and we discover there is an entirely different supernatural Court in existence unconnected to the Fae Court—or is it? However, while we learn more about the Elemental Court there is still much to be told, I think, and I hope we’ll learn more either through follow-up novels or a new set of short stories.
In fact, All is Fair might be the last in this trilogy, but it doesn’t feel like the end of the story. That may partially be my reluctance to leave these characters and this setting behind forever, but mostly it is the fact that there is so much still open. While Cathy has achieved much, this is only the beginning, the same goes for Sam and his new life. And Max and Gargoyle, like Cathy, aim to rebuild their society. All of our characters have reached the ending of this story and these events, but they all end up at new beginnings and I hope Newman will take us back to the Nether so we can discover where their new directions will take them. I love the Split Worlds. I love the characters, the setting and the story. For this Austen fan this is the perfect blend of Regency and fantasy and I hope to be able to travel to this magical realm of Fae and manners and tea and cake again.
This book was provided for review by the publisher.