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The Fall of Koli (2021)

von M. R. Carey

Reihen: Rampart Trilogy (3)

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383511,808 (4.5)8
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The Fall of Koli is the final entry in the Rampart Trilogy by M.R. Carey. The first is The Book of Koli, and The Trials of Koli is the second entry. I've been eagerly awaiting this final entry. It's newly released and is a delicious chunkster with 532 pages of addictive reading!

I don't read a lot of sci fi or fantasy, but if the setting is post apocalyptic, it's one I definitely will pick up. I am fascinated by the imaginings of what the world might be like if....

As a quick catch-up...sometime in the future, the human race has been decimated. Small pockets of survivors live in their own fortified villages and encampments. Society has reverted to a much earlier time with survival being the goal. Nature has turned on humans, with predator plants and trees. Tech from the past is revered. Koli from Mythen Rood is the main protagonist in this trilogy. Without spoiling things for a new reader, Koli has left his village and is travelling with his compatriots towards a signal. Who could be still broadcasting? Is it simply a computer still functioning somewhere? Or could it be a group farther along in rebuilding than those in Koli's sphere?

Well, in this latest entry, they make it to the source of the signal. And it's not at all what they had imagined or hoped for. More questions than answers and the residents of Albion are more dangerous than safe. Carey kept me reading late into the night by switching the narrative back and forth at crucial junctures from Koli to Spinner of Mythen Rood. She is leading the fight to keep the village safe from a megalomaniac and his followers. And there's a third character given a voice in this last entry. I was so surprised and thrilled to see this player be given a bigger (and truly pivotal) role. And yes, I'm going to be obtuse about who it is as I don't want to provide spoilers.

I loved Carey's world building and imaginings of what such a world might look like. (And its a tad scary to be reading a book where a virus wipes out most of humanity at this time...) Science and technology play a large part of the books - as defender, weapon, and is revered and is of the utmost value and status. Lots of food for thought here...

I've become invested in the characters from the first page of the first book to the sadly turned last page. There's been loss and love, adventures and trials, and I was mentally standing with them as they faced the unknown. The Fall of Koli gives us that final showdown if you will - an epic battle that will change what is left of their world.

Carey's writing is addictive and invites the reader to be a part of the story. I'm quite sad to see this trilogy finish up, but am looking forward to Carey's next work. ( )
  Twink | Mar 29, 2021 |
I received this novel from Orbit Books through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review: my thanks to both of them for this opportunity.

Approaching a series ender often brings contrasting emotions, particularly the concern that it might not live up to expectations: well, this was definitely NOT the case with The Fall of Koli, the amazing, adrenaline-infused final book in M.R. Carey’s Rampart series set in a post-apocalyptic future where humanity hangs on to survival by its fingernails. As is my habit, I will try to refrain from spoilers as much as I can, but be aware that some details from previous books might be mentioned.

Young Koli Woodsmith was exiled from his native village of Mythen Rood in book 1: in this future, dystopian England, the few remaining - and functioning - items of tech from the old civilization are both weapons of defense and the way for the village’s ruling clan to keep hold of their power. Having stolen a piece of tech for himself, thus uncovering a long-guarded secret in Mythen Rood, Koli is forced to leave home and start a journey across the land, gathering two unlikely companions: Ursala from Elsewhere, a sort of traveling physician, and Cup, former member of a death cult. In book 2, the three companions undertake a voyage toward mythical London, where they might find a way to revive a dying civilization, and at the end of that second book we are left with a disturbing cliffhanger.

The Fall of Koli defies any expectation one might have entertained about the story’s progression, both in developing events and in the way the story is told: equal narrative space is given to Koli and his companions and to the situation in Mythen Rood, where Koli’s one-time friends Spinner and Jon, together with the other villagers, face a deadly threat from a nearby enclave, whose superior firepower and aggressive attitude might end in death and destruction. I have come to see this series’ storytelling as the expanding circles forming when one throws a stone in water: at first we learn about the small, confined world of Koli’s home village, then we see a little of the outside world and its many dangers, and once we reach this last installment we finally understand how the world as we know it ended, what remains of its former power and what threat that dormant power represents.

The regular shifts in narrative perspective turn the story into a compulsive read, and the raising stakes on both sides of the action keep the tension at high levels, making it clear that any kind of ending is possible, and that it might not contemplate a happily-ever-after for everyone. Where the situation in Mythen Rood might look like a classic post-apocalyptic scenario where the strongest and better armed always overpower the weakest, the sections concerning Koli & Co. become progressively more disturbing as the real nature of the Sword of Albion, whose recorded message prompted the group’s journey toward London, is revealed and the individuals the travelers meet look more sinister and threatening with every passing day.

Where the overall scenario is compelling, the characters’ journey is no less intriguing: Koli is probably the one who changes less than others, but the fact that he appears to remain true to himself throughout the story does not detract from his innate kindness, selflessness and capacity for compassion, which are the traits that best define him. Koli might not be the “hero” in the widely accepted definition of the word because his strength does not come from particular acts of bravery: what defines him and makes him so relatable is his capacity for connecting to people and understanding their worth, for seeing the possibilities of redemption and change as he did with Cup before and as he does here with Stanley Banner, a truly creepy character on the outside, whose tragic destiny comes to the fore thanks to Koli’s refusal to consider circumstances only in black and white.

Spinner, once Koli’s love interest and now a prominent figure in the hierarchy of Mythen Rood, enjoys a greatly transformative journey: from young girl set on obtaining through marriage a comfortable position in the village’s society, she moves on to the role of fiercely protective mother first and equally fierce defender of her small world once outside threats come knocking on the door. In a way, Spinner achieves what Koli had set out to do and failed at: by throwing a monkey wrench in the workings of Mythen Rood’s balance of power, she helps wake her people from a sort of complacent status quo that might ultimately have led them to extinction. Her growth is much more pronounced than Koli’s but still she tempers it with compassion and a fine understanding of her fellow citizens’ psychological traits, mixing it with a determination that belies her young age: I enjoyed Spinner’s chapters greatly and her journey was a very compelling counterpoint to Koli’s own adventures.

Last but not least Monono: Koli and Spinner are the story’s two main focuses, granted, but the Dream Sleeve’s AI personality is further explored in this third book, offering an enlightening view on her abilities and the true changes brought on by the software upload that took her to a different level of performance. Monono’s “voice” remains the same charmingly cute girl-analogue we have learned to know and love, but here - where she gets her own point of view chapters - we discover something else, a capacity for viciousness that belies the effervescent tone she employs in her dealings with humans. It’s true that at times Monono’s quips and pop-culture references provide some light relief to an increasingly tense situation - see when she mentions the Stepford Wives or the Boys from Brazil, or when she calls Morticia and Gomez the oh-so-creepy Lorraine and Paul Banner - but when she shows her true nature it’s impossible not to consider the threat other AIs have represented in fiction and to see Monono in a troublingly different light. The only factor keeping her from going down the same road as, for example, HAL 9000 or the more recent AIDAN, is Koli: the young man’s inherent kindness is indeed the balancing element conferring the human angle Monono needs to avoid that pitfall, as she says herself:

I’m not forgiving by nature, and every shit I give about your species is given – grudgingly – because I was stupid enough to get involved with a boy from the wrong side of tracks. A boy made of flesh and blood.

Be warned, The Fall of Koli does not tie up nicely the narrative threads explored throughout the trilogy since it reserves some space for tragedy and loss, but nonetheless the poignant ending of the series is both surprising and satisfactory and closes a compelling story-arc in the best possible way I could have asked for. ( )
  SpaceandSorcery | Feb 26, 2021 |
Fantastic ending to a great trilogy.
The Fall of Koli really gets into the history of how England came to the state that it was in currently. It explored the history of the people who caused it and why it was done.
It also explores the "tech" that was left behind and found by people to use.
This book was told from multiple viewpoints. Mostly between Spinner and Koli, but in this book Monono got way more face time. It was really interesting how her personality developed and the decisions she made for herself as an AI.
The ending was unexpected by quite satisfying. ( )
  Verkruissen | Jan 13, 2021 |
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