Covenant's End

Ari Marmell
Covenant's End Cover

Covenant's End


And so with Covenant's End, the Widdershins Adventures series draws to a close. I'm not sure how I feel right now. I want to gush, I want to cry. Needless to say, these books have been a tumultuous emotional rollercoaster ride ever since the very beginning. I'm no stranger to how author Ari Marmell likes to keep his readers on their toes when it comes to this series, so I know I should have been prepared for the way it ended. Still, I can't help it, both my mind and heart are still struggling to digest this cocktail of bittersweet melancholy.

If you can, try read these books in order starting from book one,Thief's Covenant. I think you'll get the most impact out of the series this way, not to mention the stories get better and better with each installment. That said my favorite is still the second book, False Covenant, because it was the one that made me wake up and realize how special this series is. There are so many things to highlight here: the fact that these books are technically classified as Young Adult, yet are unlike any YA I've ever read (in a good way!); the fact that there is great mix between the light and dark, with plenty of humor balanced with some grim and heavy themes; the fact that we have an extraordinary premise based around the partnership between our protagonist and her own "personal god"; and of course, the fact that Marmell is utterly fearless when it comes to doing what's right for his story - even if it means putting the heroine and her friends through the wringer. As someone who has become so invested in these characters, some of the plot twists can be downright hard and shocking for me to read, but in the end I enjoy the unpredictability.

The previous book, Lost Covenant, saw Widdershins on her sojourn in Lourveux after she made the choice to run away from Davillon rather than stay and put her loved ones at risk. This fourth and final book of the series sees the return of the prodigal thief, once she finally realized the foolishness of her decision. Accompanying her as always is the all-but-forgotten minor deity Olgun, hitching a ride in the head of his only worshiper.

However, coming home was not at all like what Widdershins had expected. Her old faction the Finder's Guild isn't anything at all like it used to be, and the whole of Davillon seems on edge, bracing for something terrible to happen. The truth, Widdershins discovers, is worse than she had imagined. It seems her arch nemesis Lisette has returned as well, but she is far more than just the crazy and embittered rival thief we remember. Lisette (still crazy and embittered) now also has the dark powers of an ancient supernatural evil behind her, and Widdershins finds herself outmatched. In the face of this new threat, Widdershins will need to mend old friendships and forge new ones if she's going to have any chance at all to save the city and defeat her enemy once and for all.

Now this - THIS -- is the Widdershins I know and love. After everything she's endured, I could understand her decision to say good bye to her home and her friends, leaving all the painful memories behind her. But at her very core, she's a fighter. And I'm very glad she's finally gotten control over grief, enough to make her way back to Davillon for Covenant's End. I'm also relieved her sense of humor survived largely unscathed, probably due in no small part to Olgun, who keeps her engaged in witty banter (that we can only hear one side of, which frequently makes it even more outrageous and funny).

The highlight of this novel was definitely the relationship between the heroine and her god, which has come a long way since the first book. It's clear now that Olgun is more than just a helpful partner-in-crime and a source of humorous dialogue, and Widdershins is realizing too that he's a huge part of her life. I'm at a loss for words to describe a friendship that's so unique, but somehow Ari Marmell manages it here swimmingly. The danger and tension of the new threat in this novel brought out the sheer depth of Widdershins and Olgun's love for one another, and I felt it profoundly.

Which, I should point out, didn't make reading the ending any easier. Still, contrary to what Mr. Marmell writes in his Author's Afterword, no, I don't hate him right now. I'm not going to go into details because there will be no spoilers from me, but all I'll say is that I'm heartbroken but not unhappy with the way things ended. In fact, I'm actually quite pleased. I think long-time readers of the series have known for a while that there are important questions that need to be answered, and situations that need to be resolved. The author is probably right believing that not everyone will like the ending, but personally I'm satisfied with the direction he decided to take. That and I'd already braced myself for it, knowing from experience that this series isn't always sunshine and unicorns.

So, I guess this is good bye, Widdershins Adventures. Marmell has said that he would be open to writing more books set in this world and hasn't ruled out more Widdershins stories if the fancy strikes him, but it is the end for this "Covenant Cycle". Even if there are future Widdershins books, they will be very different - and you'll understand why if you read this.

Sigh. Endings are always tough but I agree with the need to move on. I just know I'll miss this series for sure, and of course, those gorgeous covers too.