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What is Return To Edan About?

From the ashes of the War of the Way arises chaos, and a new menace swarms over the battle-ravaged kingdoms of Eormenlond while disease and violence claim thousands. But the greatest threat to Eormenlond is its savior. Stark choices confront Dayraven’s friends as they race to salvage what they can of their world. Amidst the vast struggle for survival and meaning is Seren, a girl from Caergilion who may hold the key to unlocking the Prophet’s mind. The convergence of plotlines sweeps the tale back to where it all began in Return to Edan , the monumental conclusion of The Edan Trilogy .

“‘I’ am only eternity pretending to be the infinite variety of beings in the mask that is the world of forms. But behind the mask there is only one. Eternity hiding from itself.”

I officially dub 2023 “The Year of Edan”, as fantasy author Philip Chase introduced the world to his epic “Edan Trilogy”, publishing all three books in the series in one year, within months of each other. Chase has brought the trilogy to its end in staggering, extremely poignant, and absolutely gripping fashion with “Return to Edan”.

In the stunning conclusion to the “Edan Trilogy”, Dayraven, lost, amnesiac, wielding terrible power, grappling with the influence of the elf, has become a messianic figure for many, the embodiment of the Prophet of Edan. He wanders the land, trying to speak his truth, which is a blessing to some, and a curse to others. All the while, battling an ambivalent presence that surges within him, that can wreak utter destruction to all that Dayraven holds dear.

A young girl Seren, coping with death and grief, rises to be integral to the coming struggle, and her relationship with Dayraven is critical to the new Prophet of Edan fulfilling his mission.

Others, such as the grasping and uber-ambitious new Supreme High Priest Joruman, covets Dayraven’s power for their own, and will stop at nothing, and will use and discard anyone, to secure it.

All the while, Dayraven’s friends and allies, such as Imharr, Galdor, Orvandil, Gnorn, Abon, and including his beloved Sequara, confront both internal and external threats, as they desperately fight their way through impossible odds to try and stand beside Dayraven, and confront the ultimate enemy, before Dayraven is consumed by the elf-shard.

Meantime, the barbarians will have their day, as the wild tribes, the Illarchae, are on the warpath. They are led by ones such as the great warrior, last of his tribe, the indomitable Munzil, and they seemed poised to overrun the land, and exact their vengeance on ones such as the feckless King Earconwald II.

But a horrific fate awaits all those in Eormenlond, distracted by their aspirations for conquest or vengeance, as the true enemy is revealed to have unspeakable plans for them.

“Some call it Edan. Some Oruma and Anghara. Still others have many names for it, many faces. These are but words and symbols, a groping in the dark for what we all yearn for. My friends, no matter what name we give it, it dwells in us all. In Torrlonders and Caergilese alike. In all of us. And once we recognize the truth of this, once we grasp it with our minds and hearts, the only thing we can do is honor one another. In myself, in my family, in my friends, and, yes, in my foes: in all alike I recognize the god within. And once I recognize this, it becomes impossible to offer anything other than the love due to every living thing.”

While I relished the other two books in the series, this book was my favourite, because of the additional emphasis on character development.

Even though the characters are physically divided across various geographic locations, and there are numerous POVs in the book, I adore that Chase spends time with each of the main characters, and even some auxiliary ones, to truly explore their emotional and mental struggles based on their circumstances.

I especially liked Munzil’s POVs in this books, as the brutish but intensely honourable clansmen finds love with the equally fierce and lusty Skuld.

Though there is not as much upfront worldbuilding in the novel, as the action moves steadily towards its denouement, Chase does not let the reader forget the sprawling and enormous scope of Eormenlond, as we are treated to even more customs, landscapes, realms, and continually immersed in the world created through the first two books.

Though there are a nimiety of themes to confront in this book, and this series, I want to focus on themes that are manifested through the protagonist Dayraven, who looks to fulfill his destiny in this penultimate book of the series.

Through Dayraven’s arc, Chase tackles the transient and brief nature of life, and how one’s actions can resonate beyond the grave, in response to how ephemeral our existence on earth is.

The evanescent state of life is also another motivation, Chase seems to say, why we should not waste time on vendettas, hatred, and animosity towards our fellow human, but rather focus on healing, through the virtue of forgiveness.

The theme is exemplified in the message that Dayraven preaches to his followers. Forgiveness, despite the difficulties of overcoming entrenched, bitter enmity, is presented as the path to inner peace and harmony, if not salvation. Beyond that, Dayraven asserts, it is not enough merely to forgive, love and respect one another.

One must place themselves in the shoes of another, in order to truly appreciate their plight, and the impact of any potential harm one does to one’s fellow human. Dayraven unreservedly shows those who are lacking appropriate sensitivity and empathy for others, how terrible and callous their thought processes are, and does not spare them the agony of experiencing the pain they have wrought on others.

“The path of love is not always easy, and it is not always clear, though it will reward you like no other. You may stumble away from it at times, but it is always awaiting your return. It requires courage and determination to stay on it. You must be true to yourself and your deepest beliefs. Most of all, it requires being the person you choose to love.”

This is a hard lesson to take, and at times hard to read, as indeed, some are driven to the brink of insanity by being forced to endure what they have done to others. Yet, in unflinching fashion, Chase has Dayraven plant visceral images of the consequences of their actions in the minds of the offenders.

Chase steppes the reader in spirituality and divinity without being implicitly religious or preachy.  Chase invites us to explore our own philosophies, without ever imposing them on the reader. This takes a very adept and skillful touch, and Chase gently brushes masterstrokes of dialogue and exposition to accomplish this.

It was extremely satisfying how all the plot threads congregate, though honestly, for a while I wondered how Chase would manage to weave them all together. But Chase delivers, and overall, this last book in the trilogy packs a raw punch.

There is no shortage of shield-shattering, sword-swinging and spear plunging into the chests of combatants in this novel, like its predecessors. The fight scenes are just as bloody, just as enthralling, as the previous books, with even higher stakes than before.

Chase tears the reader’s heart out in the finale’s climax, sparring no character from either their own death, or, at the very least, grief over the loss of ones dear to them. Some characters I thought for certain were going to make it, didn’t, while others I thought were goners, made it out alive. The end result is shocking, and be prepared to shed more than a few tears over the fate of some of your heroes.

To be honest, I felt quite emotionally gutted and devoid at the end of the book. That is the hallmark of a great writer, who has made the reader connect and attach deeply to the characters, and forced the reader to become emotionally invested in the outcome of the story.

In closing, Chase has crafted – with a distinct voice – a unique, thrilling, and through-provoking contribution to dark epic fantasy that needs to be given its due.

Chase burrows deep into the human experience, with fabulous wordsmithing that has plenty of morals for the story, emotional depth, compelling characters grappling with internal and external conflicts, and give us a trilogy laden with myth, legend, song, incredible battles, love, heroism, and ultimately, greatness. The battle scenes are reminiscent of Gywnne, the characters, worldbuilding, and themes highly memorable in the tradition of Tolkien. While more poetic and lyrical than Sanderson, the writing is similarly accessible and easy to digest.

All these elements, in concert, make for a truly spectacular series that will not soon be forgotten. If Chase, a medievalist, who has a real love of epic fantasy, was looking to craft a tale that would be impactful, and he has certainly succeeded with his books about Edan.

In time, I believe, the “Edan Trilogy” will become as legendary and heralded in the SFF Indie sphere as such masterpieces as “Sword of Kaigen”, “Paternus” and “Ash and Sand”.

The “Edan Trilogy” is now officially ranked near the very top of all my favourite Indie SFF series of all time, largely thanks to how exceptionally Chase has concluded his trilogy.

“Return to Edan” will definitely figure prominently in my personal Indie SFF Book of the Year discussions. Kudos to Chase and all he has accomplished with this marvellous book and series!

Read Our Other Reviews

Review and Discussion: The Edan Trilogy by Philip Chase

Review THE WAY OF EDAN by Philip Chase

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