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Gary Luck
At The End of Everything (The Relevation Trilogy Book 2)
G. W. Lücke, author
Grin and Thaly rescue Tom Anderson from the clutches of the wicked Malphas and escape Enthilen on a merchant ship. But the journey proves perilous, tearing the friendship apart and setting them on different paths. Tom seeks the land of Bindari, where he believes he’ll discover how to defeat Malphas. What he finds there, throw his plans into chaos but reveal a chance to thwart Malphas if Tom’s prepared to risk everything. A shared trauma brings Grin and Thaly closer together. After returning to Enthilen, they join hundreds of stone-grells on a pilgrimage to the grell city of Malang Gunya. Malphas, King Adalwolf and thousands of Erstürmen are already there, pulling the city apart to rebuild the lost kingdom of Pergamos. The confrontation between the grells and Erstürmen threatens to end many lives and plunge Enthilen into turmoil. The second book in The Relevation Trilogy, At the End of Everything, unveils the mystery surrounding Tom Anderson and races towards a shattering conclusion.
Darkly real but classically fantastical, this latest installment of Lücke’s adult fantasy series follows Tom, Thaly, and Grin as they flee from Prince Adalwolf’s attempt to steal Tom’s soul and gain immortality. Once on the run, the trio is forced apart by a storm and embark on their own journeys— Tom to Bindari, the resting place of the grells, to find the answers that might take him back to Earth, while Grin and Thaly endeavor to rejoin Grin’s family and stop the grells’ sacred pilgrimage in order to save them from slaughter by Prince Adalwolf and Malphas. Should anyone fail, many will die in the land.

Packed with thematic descriptions and evocative prose (“Caeli looked up through the forest canopy covering the sacred site like a baldachin, staring at the glimmer of stars as if they were actors performing the story of her life”) , this fantasy is engaging, with many inspiring characters to root for. However, while Lücke does a good job of establishing each character’s end goals and all that’s at stake, the plot is spread thin between the cast, and readers may wish for the opportunity to spend more time with their favorites. No standout character drives the plot, and most of the major players end up simply trying to get from one place to another,. It’s a somewhat familiar second book phenomenon: While everyone faces challenges in their individual journeys, the novel’s far-reaching view of Enthilen doesn’t quite reach climactic emotional heights.

For those who want more realism in their fantasy, Lücke isn’t afraid to tackle darker topics such as rape, suicide, the impacts of slavery, and drug use. Couple this with a rich history and many cultures—including a fair bit of diversity of female and gay characters, and some low-brow humor—and the world feels almost palpable. All in all, this is a solid entry into the fantasy canon, pushing its series forward.

Takeaway: Fans of fantasy with a darker bent, multiple viewpoints, and a sprawling world will find a wealth of material in this second book.

Great for fans of: Steven Erikson, Margo Lanagan’s Tender Morsels.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: B-