Belatedly, as yesterday was a wee bit of a disaster, culminating in me managing to lose three documents at once including this review (save all your files kids), but I am delighted to be joining The Escapist Tours blog tour for At The Threshold of the Universe by T.A. Bruno. This is the third and final book in the The Song of Kamaria trilogy. It’s been my pleasure to be involved with tours for the previous two books as well, and it’s a little bittersweet to have reached the end – but what an end!
You can find my reviews for book one and current SPSFC finalist In the Orbit of Sirens and book two On the Wind of Quasars.
Please do check out the rest of the tour, as well as the giveaway at the end of the post (US only).
Disclaimer – I received a copy in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.
THE EPIC CONCLUSION TO THE SONG OF KAMARIA TRILOGY.
ALL SONGS END.
War ravages Kamaria as an old enemy resurfaces from the depths of the ocean. Offering no support in the coming battles, the Auk’nai isolate themselves in their tightly guarded Nest. Outgunned and outmatched, humanity once again trembles on the edge of obliteration.
The Castus family is torn apart. Denton fights on the front lines, hoping to free Cade from a nightmarish foe. Meanwhile, Eliana and Nella set out on a path that will change everything they understand about the Sirens. The Song will end, but who will remain to hear its final verse?
It’s always a little bittersweet when you reach the end of a series, as on the one hand you’ve been waiting for this point. Waiting to see how everything is resolved and find the answers to questions that had been left unanswered in previous books. But, on the hand reaching that point means that it is over (although I was super excited to read that the author might do more in this universe!!). That’s very much the case here, especially as The Song of Kamaria is one of the first sci-fi series that I ever started reviewing and following on the blog, and it will always hold a special place in my heart because of that. It’s also a series that has continually gone from strength to strength, especially with the characters and worldbuilding, and At the Threshold of the Universe really does highlight that.
So here we are… the last book in The Song of Kamaria.
And what a way to bring that trilogy to a close.
Firstly, as always there are bonus points for the maps at the beginning and the fact that there is a ‘story so far section’ at the beginning. Also, this is a beautiful book with section and chapter illustrations, and, I have to say that the cover for this one is my favourite for the entire series – I just love the colours. I will admit I was a bit surprised by the change in palette, but having read it, I think the cover is perfect for this final book.
As I’ve said this series has gone from strength to strength, so I went into this one with high expectations and I was not disappointed. Bruno has always cleverly given us answers along the way, while always giving us more mysteries and questions to solve, and there were a lot of threads, both in terms of characters, as well as the wider setting to be tied up in this final book. Bruno has done a stunning job of wrapping up all those storylines in a way that both hurt (because this book pushes the characters we’ve come to know and love to the breaking point and beyond) and was so, so satisfying. But, At the Threshold is not just a book of tying off those threads, and as with the previous books, it pushes the boundaries of what we know about Kamaria and in this case beyond Kamaria – and I think that was probably one of my favourite aspects of this book.
At the Threshold of the Universe was a book that had me on the edge of my seat, holding my breath and praying that things would work out for the characters. The stakes were very real, and Bruno really captures that danger, and lays it out with such visual storytelling that you are swept up completely in the action. There was a bleakness to this one that was more prevalent than in the other, with the feeling of a pressing crescendo, and yet even with that feeling, and the press of war and looming threat, this was still very much a character focused story.
Cade and Nella had stolen the show for me in the second book and continued to do so here – especially with the role they both played in the unfolding backstory that was such a strong component of this book. I think it was fitting that these two characters who always had such a strong bond between one another, and the wider family, were also the ones to open up the history of the Undriel and Sirens in this book, and I didn’t think it was possible for Bruno to make me love them more, but he succeeded. Denton was another character that really stood out for me in this one, and it was wonderful to see how his and Eliana’s story played out – and I think their ending was one of the ones that made me smile the most.
With such a large cast of characters it would be easy for some to fall by the wayside, but Bruno has a talent for creating memorable characters across all the parties involved in this story. It didn’t matter which side of the conflict they were on or had been on, or the role they had played in unfolding events, I found myself invested in their stories. Maybe it was the sense of peril that prevailed through this book, and the fact that death and injury, and loss was not just a threat but something we saw unfold on the page, colouring the characters and their interactions and the dynamics. It was like watching a complex jigsaw puzzle coming together to create a beautiful, multi-layered image, with many surprises and emotional punches along the way.
All to bring Kamaria together.
Harmony and balance have always been a theme in this series, but At the Threshold of the Universe took that both further and deeper. The Song of Kamaria has always been about different perspectives and peoples colliding or coming together and trying to find a way forward. But how do you do that when there is grief and anger and myriad other emotions and experiences in the way? It felt very much like this book was questioning that, and the idea of forgiveness and moving forward, and whether you must have one to have the other.
“But I do not forgive you,” she added. “I understand why you did what you did. I am also grateful it didn’t result in my daughter’s death. If it had, we would not be speaking at all now. You’d be in great danger, in fact.”
I love that there wasn’t a single answer to those questions, that each character, or people had their own approaches to it, and that forgiveness wasn’t universal or even strictly necessary. If everything was forgiven or forgotten, then past events and interactions would have no meaning, and At the Threshold of the Universe embraces that brilliantly and creates a much more powerful exploration of harmony and balance as a result, because it has to be worked for and while there may be understanding and agreement, the weight of what had happened before was still there, just as it should be. And especially in a book that has given us such a powerful and intense backstory for the events that had kicked off this series, and for the situation the characters were in.
‘<Can we put our issues aside to save the universe?>’
Also, holy hell that epilogue!! (I am not going to delve into that age old debate), but this epilogue was just such a fantastic capstone to both the book and series. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I saw how long the time skip had been, and I certainly wasn’t anticipating what the epilogue was – and yet having read it, I honestly can’t think of a better way to bring the story to a close. It was perfect from a character point of view and going back to those themes of harmony and balance and coming together, and I loved that it was a fantastic ending but with enough inbuilt ambiguity that your imagination can run wild with what lies beyond the threshold. And I loved that both the main ending and the epilogue had a wonderful feeling of closure and potential, albeit in different ways and it felt incredibly fitting that between them they represented so many of the parties present in Kamaria.
‘He carried them all with him.’
At the Threshold of the Universe is a brilliant conclusion to this series, and more than does justice to the story and world that had brought us this far. It was a book that kept me on my toes and caught me by surprise more than once, and I still haven’t been able to stop thinking about the ending and epilogue. Honestly, there were so many points I want to talk about – but because there were so many exciting curveballs, I wouldn’t want to spoil anything, all I can say is go and read At the Threshold of the Universe!! (And the series…preferably in order). It’s been an absolute pleasure following The Song of Kamaria from start to finish, and I am excited to see what Bruno will do next.
T. A. Bruno grew up in a suburb south of Chicago and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the film industry. Since then, he has brought stories to life for over a decade as a previsualization artist. At home, he is the proud father of two boys and a husband to a wonderful wife.
Prize: A Full Signed Set of the Song of Kamaria Series!
Starts: June 16, 2022 at 12:00am EST
Ends: June 22, 2022 at 11:59pm EST
You can enter here:a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.