What happened to this series?
I remember reading Grimspace and being completely entranced - entranced by the universe, the action, the writing, and most importantly, the characters. So, it pains me to see the series fall so far, but I don't necessarily hold it against Aguirre. She probably got burned out with the series, or stuck, or unsure how to end it... and well, Endgame is the result.
But, alas - gone is the snarky heroine I've come to love. And without her, this book just crumbled.
It didn't take long upon starting Endgame for me to become uneasy with it. It becomes evident pretty early on that this book is about Jax leading a terrorist-esque guerilla movement against the Nicuan nobles in La’heng, in order to free the enslaved La’hengrin people. Essentially, the La’hengrin are enslaved because after a conflict, the humans put a gas in their atmosphere that made all La’hengrin unable to commit violence. So, some advantageous humans moved in and took the La’hengrin as slaves in order to "protect" them.
In the previous book (Aftermath), Sirantha commissioned a doctor to make a cure to the gas, that would allow the La’hengrin to be violent again. Now, stymied in her attempts to administer the cure to the La’hengrin through legal means, she and her loyal followers decide they have "no choice" except to start an open rebellion on the planet.
Okay well - that's a bunch of crap. Sirantha can't get a permit to begin trials on the drug because she's not a citizen of La’heng. She applied for citizenship, but it was denied due to her, erm, colorful past. Rather than appeal the denial ("He knows that will take turns, damn him," [Sirantha indignantly thinks]), let's start a war! Here's an idea, Sirantha - appeal the denial, and in the years it takes to get it overturned, how about you get the drug fine-tuned so that it doesn't have a 5% casualty rate?
A few have died taking Carvati’s Cure; they succumb to the bloodlust and have to be put down. So far, our casualty rate is holding steady at 5 percent.
Is it me, or does it almost seem like Sirantha is boasting about this? Oh, 1 in 20 people have to be put down, but we're holding steady at that, so, yay! I mean, even if she did get a permit to begin drug trials, does she think the cure would be allowed to be distributed with this high of a casualty rate? So, I think taking a few turns to fine-tune the drug might be a good thing.
But, taking that many years out of her life would be a major inconvenience to her - she's already getting restless for grimspace, of course - so, let's start a war instead. (NOTE: Why couldn't she had an actual citizen, like Loras, apply for the drug trials permit? Or, if a La’hengrin doesn't count as a citizen, why not have someone like Tarn apply for citizenship? They'd have a much harder time denying him. Or, if that fell through, how about trying to bribe a citizen to apply for the permit? I'm just saying, it doesn't seem like they exhausted all their options before deciding on WAR.)
[Tangent: While we're on the subject, why are they talking about the war and all of their war plans in front of a twelve-year old boy?! This should be "after bedtime" talk, people. /Tangent]
Okay, so here's where things get tricky. I'm not saying that freeing an enslaved people isn't something worth going to war over. But, the way that Jax was just so callous about the whole thing chilled me.
For example, their treatment of a prisoner of war:
The machine she used on him is wildly addictive. If we cut him loose at this point, he’ll go mad wanting that pleasure again. He’s ours to keep, now.
Stay of execution for the centurion. He won’t be beaten or killed while Vel needs to learn the lines of his face.
“I will prohibit the free La’heng from making sport of him until after you complete your assessment.”
Are you frakking serious?!? He's "ours to keep?" Plans to execute? Letting the La’hengrin make sport of him? This is the Sirantha Jax that I thought I knew and loved, this is, as a reader, what I'm expected to rally behind?!?
I marked this book as "abandoned" because after that (about 21% in), I could only skim the rest.
But regarding the Jax/Vel/March situation, which has to be addressed... oh man, but did this ever piss me off. Don't kid yourselves, and don't let Aguirre fool you - this is a love triangle, even if it's different than the norm. And, in a way, it's even worse than an "actual" love triangle, because due to the differing nature of the relationship between Jax/Vel vs. that of Jax/March, Aguirre doesn't have to grow a pair (or make Jax grow a pair) and force Jax to make a choice.
Just, avoid this book if you don't want to see the destruction of all the characters you've come to love. Know that whatever "satisfaction" and "resolution" this book may bring, it's all just superficial. You can determine whether or not that'll be enough for you - I know that it wasn't for me.