The Chaos Crystal
by Jennifer Fallon
Review by Mel Jacob
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765316851
Date: 10 May 2011 List Price $27.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Australian fantasy writer, Jennifer Fallon, completes her Tide Lords series with the Chaos Crystal. Again, mortals Arkady Desean and her husband, Stellan, and the immortal tide Lords Declan Hawkes, Cayal (the Immortal Prince), and Jaxyn, along with others fight to survive or to die in their efforts to control their world. The tide lords seek the Chaos Crystal to manipulate its ability to magnify the Tide and enhance their powers. The immortal Lukys plans to use it restore his wife's consciousness, now imprisoned in a rat, to a human body while Cayal wants death. Use of the crystal will open a rift and allow those using it to leave their present world and move to a new one. Unfortunately, it may also destroy their current world in the process and the immortal who holds the crystal.
As a group, with few exceptions, the immortals, with eons of history, remain self-centered and interested in only themselves. The Tide provides the source of the immortals' magical powers including the ability to manipulate nature and even create human-animal hybrids, the Crasii, to serve them. Among these are canines bred for labor and personal service, the felines for warriors, chameleons, and others. While most cannot refuse the orders of an immortal, some, the Scard, are able to refuse and want to eliminate the immortals.
The immortals vie to control the world through controlling humans and Crasii. They find it easier to co-op human rulers and control nations through them. One such family controls the kingdom of Caelum that Jaxyn covets along with Glaeba that he already controls. He believes one can never have too much power.
Fallon has a talent for creating vivid characters especially among the Crasii and the Scard and making the reader care about them. Most of the immortals lost any shred of humanity they had eons ago and focus on only their own pleasure and aggrandizement. They slaughter humans and Crasii with callous disregard and do not care if they destroy the world to gain their own ends.
Arkady's loyalty to her father becomes almost too much, and she refuses to let him commit suicide and demands Jaxyn revive him. In the end, she is forced to desert him or die with him. His character and misguided actions create more problems than one woman needs. For Arkady, sex appears merely a means to an end, and she focuses primarily on her own survival. She comes across as more sympathetic than the immortals, but flawed in her own way. Her main redeeming feature is her will to fight regardless of the odds.
The ending leaves plenty of opportunity for a future series with many unanswered questions. The Chaos Crystal stands on it own and summarizes most of the history of the main characters. The earlier three novels: The Immortal Prince, The Gods of Amyrantha, and The Palace of Impossible Dreams, provide greater detail on the characters, their motivations, and how and why they arrived at the search for the Chaos Crystal.
Fallon also has begun a new series, Rift Runners, featuring Druids and a sort of alternate history. With several successful series and major award nominations, she holds her own among fantasy writers.