The Ring-Sworn Trilogy, by Howard Andrew Jones, is an excellent series that is flying under the radar. When The Goddess Wakes is the third and final installment of the series. I have reviewed the two previous books, For the Killing of Kings (which was a top pick the year it came out) and Upon the Flight of the Queen (which had some issues but was still a great read). Goddess recovers from Queen’s stumbles and does a great job guiding the series to an emotional finale.
I know for a fact that almost all of you reading this review haven’t read For the Killing of Kings, as at the time of writing this all three books have fewer than 500 ratings on Goodreads. I go over the general plot of the first two novels in their reviews, and I don’t want to spoil the plot of the third book because it is quite fun. Instead, I want to talk about what I think The Ring-Sworn Trilogy, in particular this third book, does really well – friendship, mentorship, and exploring the idea of fantasy coworkers.
I have been one of Corporate America’s myriad peons for more than a decade now. Something that I find that motivates me to get my job done is an attachment to my fellow coworkers and a drive to not let them down. The Ring-Sworn Trilogy follows a sword and sorcery-based plot about a shifting fantasy landscape and an antagonist that is trying to remake the very reality of the world. While there are a number of individual protagonists, all of them belong to an order of heroes called The Ring-Sworn, which functions sorta like a company. Each person brings a mix of skills and talents to the table to make the order run and keep the world safe, and their personalities and dispositions are extremely varied. The result is a group of people who have these complicated relationships that are mesmerizing to watch unfold. Some people are friends, some are acquaintances, some are lovers, some are begrudging allies, some can’t stand to be in a room together, some only know each other by reputations, and the list goes on. Coupled with this is a roster of characters that are very unique and memorable in a landscape of cunning rogues, stalwart warriors, and wise wizards. Jones has created a terrarium of heroes that grow and change like the chaotic world in which his story takes place and it makes for an experience that I highly recommend you try for yourself.
As for the specifics of When The Goddess Wakes, the book does a lot right when closing out the series. My major issue with the second book in the series was that it felt more like an add-on to the story of book one than its own fleshed-out novel. This is absolutely not the case with Goddess, which tells an exciting new story that raises the stakes and brings all the plots together. In particular, Jones is adept at giving each of the many characters in the story a satisfying ending that never feels like he is checking off plot points on a list. Everyone gets their time in the spotlight and all of the characters have a high emotional payoff at the end of their journeys.
The plot of the third book itself is fairly straightforward. There was a little less mysterious than I was hoping for, given how heavily mystery is featured in the first two installments. But, I guess you need to solve puzzles eventually and can’t just spend the rest of your time finding new threads to think about.
All in all, the three books in The Ring-Sworn Trilogy add up to a winning equation, and I think the series is criminally under-read. Jones has gifted me with one of my favorite casts of characters of the last few years and I am very much excited to see what he does next. If you like sword and sorcery fantasy, you are doing yourself a great disservice if you don’t check these out – especially now that the third and final book is out.
When The Goddess Wakes – 8.5/10
The Ring-Sworn Trilogy – 8.5/10