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The Dark at the End (Repairman Jack) by F. Paul Wilson
Edited by David Hartwell
Cover Artist: Photos: Shutterstock
Review by Drew Bittner
Tor Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765322838
Date: 11 October 2011 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Series Website / Show Official Info /

The gloves are off. After being held back for so long by Glaeken, the almost-immortal champion of humanity, Jack is finally getting a shot at Rasalom directly. But Rasalom's own plans are coming to fruition as well, and it's a race to see whose design is completed first.

Well, this is it. The fifteenth and (chronologically) final book in the Repairman Jack series, The Dark at the End wraps up a number of plot threads and lays the final bit of groundwork for Nightworld, F. Paul Wilson's apocalyptic tale of the last battle between the forces of the Ally and the Otherness.

However, this is more than an introduction to that book. Jack's friends Weezy and Eddie Connell are back, as is the ageless but seemingly elderly Lady--an entity with a deep connection to humanity. So is Ernst Drexler, Rasalom's facilitator, who is having serious doubts, and Hank Thompson, the leader of the Kickers, plagued by nightmares of his "kicker man" spirit guide killed by birds.

Okay, first, a spoiler regarding Fatal Error, the previous RJ novel...

After Rasalom's agents failed to kill the Lady, in a plot which included a sophisticated attack on the Internet, Jack and company suspect that another attempt must be coming. They seek out clues in the Compendium of Srem, a book full of information about the Otherness, and in their old hometown of Johnson, NJ.

However, they also have a complication in the form of Dawn Pickering, a teenager who gave birth to a freakish baby that somehow figures into Rasalom's plans. She's found where they're keeping her baby, giving Jack an invaluable opportunity: he might just be able to kill Rasalom and stop the terrible Change from ever occurring.

It's a big roll of the dice and Jack stands to lose everything. Rasalom and his agents know who he is and are coming closer with every day; it's likely that his beloved Gia and Vicky will be in deadly danger.

When all hell breaks loose, Jack and his friends will have to make some very risky calls, putting everything on the line. And every battle has its casualties.

Wilson delivers a powerhouse conclusion to Jack's storyline, with our favorite urban repairman unleashed in a way he has never been before. Jack proves savagely resourceful and brilliant at his work, even as circumstances conspire against him. The stakes are extremely high--if Rasalom wins, the Change starts and the Otherness will impose its horrific designs on the world. Wilson makes clear in this volume what that means by getting us into Rasalom's head; he shows us exactly how evil this creature is, and what his victory would mean. It's scary stuff.

At the same time, Jack is changing too. He's healing faster and feeling more vicious, more singleminded. This is because he's inheriting Glaeken's power; as the old man slowly fades, Jack (as the Heir) is being strengthened. But his new abilities may be coming too late, as Rasalom's deadly scheme is revealed.

Few writers can deliver thrills the way that Wilson does. He's taken Jack from the highs to the lows--and this book ends at an absolute low. But Jack is far from out of the fight...and his role in Nightworld is a major one. Wilson has left some intriguing pieces on the gameboard, elements that didn't exist when the book was first released. How these will play into the ultimate resolution of the Adversary Cycle is unknowable...but I can't wait to read that story.

Highly recommended.

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