Well, the journey is concluded. “Shifting Directions”, the final installment of the multi-award winning “Neglected Merge” trilogy, was a gratifying ending to one of my favourite romantic-fantasy series, by the author Eve Koguce.
Tying together all the threads from the first two books, “Neglected Merge” & “Tangle of Choices”, “Shifting Directions” does feel like a different type of book, almost like an epilogue, to the main series. Regardless, the novel really worked for me.
The novel is set several years after the events of “Tangle of Choices”. The Wingless Ones and the Wingless are intermingling more than ever. Intense and intimate relationships continue to form between the two races.
Tauria is still the heart and soul, it would seem, of the Wingless Ones, and the binding leader between the Winged Ones and the Wingless, even though Tauria’s own husband and soulmate, Doron, is the actual Ruler of the Winged Ones.
The gruff and tacturian Grayson is still the titular head of the Wingless, and he confronts internal issues within his ranks. Though his admiration for Tauria is perceived by some to be inappropriate, and their friendship is fraught with surface animosity, there is a deep and mutual abiding respect, rather than any real romantic tension. Tauria is completely besotted with her husband, and he with her.
Grayson actually has a very formidable woman in his life, and keeps this love affair low key.
Still, this novel is really about other trysts, mostly among the younger generation, but also among the more mature. Central to these are Sandra and Darragh. Sandra is innocent, Darragh bitter and misguided. Their involvement will have huge repercussions for the future of the fragile co-existence of two races who are still working on trusting one another, and working towards melding into one seamless society.
As with the previous books in this series, Koguce’s character work is stellar. Still, for me the standout in “Shifting Directions” was not one of the new up and comers but an old hand.
Alfred, the sage politician, nearing the end of his life, is still one of my favourite characters, and he really shone in this book despite a reduced role. Alfred’s wisdom and grace in helping to still provide sage guidance to those struggling with change while coping with his own mortality was amazing to watch. Seeing someone like Ferrus lose some of his austerity, and become more likeable and warm, was also pleasing. But the best characters in the book were the strong female ones, including Abelia, Sophia, and of course Tauria.
Tauria still makes this series go, and her complexities, her fierceness, and her innate goodness, make her a protagonist to root for. Her love, Doron, grows into his role, but to me is not as much of a natural leader as his wife, though he is pragmatic, capable, and has a real capacity for justice and equanimity.
With themes of found family, loss, newfound love, change and evolution, sacrifice, and coming-of-age, I found lots to compel me in this read, outside of the wonderful, touching, and often heart-breaking romance.
No one writes like Eve Koguce that I have ever read. Part lyrical, part philosophical, with a real appreciation for rich storytelling, reminsicent of a more classical style of writing, I have truly enjoyed Koguce’s lovely prose. This has been one of my favourite aspects of this incredible series.
My least favourite aspect of this book, and this series is that, with “Shifting Directions”, it’s over!
Another five-star triumph for the author in “Shifting Directions”, and I’m hoping to read a lot more of Eve Koguce in the future, because she is a rare talent in the romantic-fantasy sphere.