The Golden Shrine
by Harry Turtledove
Cover Artist: Gregory Manchess
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765317124
Date: 13 October 2009 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Pride cometh before the fall. Hubris is featured in this concluding volume. Pushed north once again, Lord Hammet must find a way to bring the fight to the Rulers or allow them to topple the Ramsauldian Empire. This is the final chapter in Opening the World series.
Set in a world where mammoths roam the plains before the great glaciers. The stable and unchallenged rule of the Raumsauldian empire is thrown into chaos when the Rulers explode out of the Gap and march inevitably forward. No army or wizard can stop them. Each setback takes its toll on the confidence of those fighting them. Only Maecovefa has no doubt in her ability to defeat them. Her faith is based on how she learned her magic. The top of the glacier is the harshest school of all.
In this third and final book, the confidence of the Rulers and the fear that their enemies feel plays a big role in determining the final outcome of battles. A great part of their strength comes from their confidence. When it is shaken, they do not do as well. Hamnet knows that if the Ruler magic can be neutralized, they can be stopped. The Golden Shrine does not play as big a role as the title might suggest. It is revealed in an unexpected manner.
This was an interesting series. It is not of this world, but it could have been. It is similar to Conan in that respect. A part of me saw a little Jean Auel in the mammoths. This was also different from much of the authorís more recent work in that it didnít jump around a huge number of points of view. The post climactic battle scenes were revealing and fulfilling. They complete the story and tie up most of the loose endings but still leave a little for the reader to imagine and fill in themselves.
This book needs to be read in concert with the opening two volumes. The prehistoric setting is not for everyone. I liked the book and the series. Readers that enjoyed Beyond the Gap and The Breath of God will enjoy this book. Fans of ice age cultures will also find something to enjoy.