Title: The Fall of Koli (Ramparts trilogy, #3)
Author: M. R. Carey
Publication date: March 23, 2021
Length: 560 pages
Genre: Science fiction
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher
The Fall of Koli is the third and final novel in the breathtakingly original Rampart trilogy – set in a strange and deadly world of our own making.
The world that is lost will come back to haunt us . . .
Koli has come a long way since being exiled from his small village of Mythen Rood. In his search for the fabled tech of the old times, he knew he’d be battling strange, terrible beasts and trees that move as fast as whips. But he has already encountered so much more than he bargained for.
Now that Koli and his companions have found the source of the signal they’ve been following – the mysterious “Sword of Albion” – there is hope that their perilous journey will finally be worth something.
Until they unearth terrifying truths about an ancient war . . . and realise that it may have never ended.
It’s been a long time since I’ve felt as immersed in a strange new world as I did reading the Koli trilogy, which wraps up with the newly released The Fall of Koli.
The trilogy follows the journey of Koli, a young man just past boyhood who is exiled from his small village after being accused of stealing tech — which the villagers believe only “wakes” for people who truly deserve it. Cast out from the life he’s always known, Koli eventually forms a small tribe with Ursala, a loner medical woman who wanders from settlement to settlement to offer her healing skills, and Cup, a girl who was originally Koli’s hostage but eventually becomes his devoted friend. Guiding them all is Monono, the self-aware AI who protects the trio and her own freedom.
In The Fall of Koli, our heroes encounter a ship from the before times and discover secrets related to the Unfinished War of over 300 years earlier that basically destroyed civilization and may yet lead to the end of humankind. Meanwhile, back in Koli’s home village, his former love interest Spinner has grown into a woman of political stature and leadership who must find a way for the people of Mythen Rood to battle a much larger invading force.
I can’t say enough about how masterfully built Koli’s world is. The author creates a landscape in which everything wants to kill people — trees can and do kill, as do a vast number of creeping, crawling, and flying creatures. The very world seems to reject people, and as Ursala points out, with human settlements so small and scattered, the human gene pool is on the verge of becoming unsustainable. Dead tech still remains, but the surviving humans mostly look upon it as magical creations that are beyond human comprehension, and therefore, the few people who can use tech must be specially chosen or gifted.
Koli’s language is strange and oddly beautiful, and I couldn’t help but wonder at how much effort it must have taken for the author to not only create these speech patterns, but to sustain them convincingly throughout.
I won’t say much about the plot or the ending — but wow, the plot is terrific and wow, the ending is perfect. I was completely on edge during certain scenes, and practically couldn’t breathe, was occasionally super mad at the author for having certain things happen, but by the end breathed deeply again and felt like things turned out exactly as they should have.
The Koli trilogy is a gorgeous, weird, unsettling ride, start to finish. It’s one of the best science fiction / speculative fiction works I’ve read in years. SO highly recommended. Read these books!