The Fall of Koli by M R Carey

April 2, 2021

The Fall of Koli is the final book of The Rampart Trilogy. If you have not read books one and two then what follows will contain some minor spoilers. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

The world that is lost will come back to haunt us . . .

Koli has come a long way since being exiled from his small village of Mythen Rood. In his search for the fabled tech of the old times, he knew he’d be battling strange, terrible beasts and trees that move as fast as whips. But he has already encountered so much more than he bargained for.

Now that Koli and his companions have found the source of the signal they’ve been following – the mysterious “Sword of Albion” – there is hope that their perilous journey will finally be worth something.

Until they unearth terrifying truths about an ancient war . . . and realise that it may have never ended.

This week’s review is the final book in The Rampart Trilogy. The Fall of Koli picks up right where The Trails of Koli left off. Our erstwhile hero continues his journey across the broken landscape of future England seeking answers to the mysteries that surround his life.

I’ve found over the course of this series that my attention has actually drifted away from Koli to focus elsewhere. Though Koli is frequently front and centre, I’m more curious about what is going on with characters like Cup or Ursula-from-Elsewhere. Each is on their own journey and M R Carey’s skilled storytelling ensures ample time for the reader to follow them. Monono Aware remains a firm favourite. Her continued voyage of self-discovery is a real highlight. Monono is constantly growing and evolving. It’s fascinating to see the changes as well as the elements of her character she chooses to retain. The fact she is an artificial intelligence becomes almost secondary. There are pivotal moments in the plot where she gets to decide what she will become. When I started reading these books, I don’t think I expected to ever become so caught up in the virtual life of what was essentially an iPod. Along with Cup’s thread of the narrative, the author uses Monono to explore the nature of transformation and how it can come to define us or consume us if we let it.

Elsewhere, another plot thread continues to follow Spinner Tanhide. Koli’s childhood friend never leaves the village of Mythen Rood, but her journey is no less transformative. From uncertain youngster to determined leader there is a stark evolution in Spinner’s character that can be appreciated on multiple levels. Spinner doesn’t go searching for the truth like Koli. She has it thrust upon her and is forced to deal with the consequences of the revelations she learns.

If I had a single criticism, and it’s a minor one, I would have liked the book to be just a little bit longer. There is some mention of various character’s ultimate fates, but I wanted to know what happened next. In all honesty, I suppose that is just me being greedy. When I really enjoy a book, I don’t want it to end. Especially when it is the final part of a series and I’ve become invested in the plot and characters.

By and by there are elements of The Rampart Trilogy that put me in mind of a scene right at the end of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. A tribe of feral children have spent so much time away from what’s left of the world they have created their own mythology that has in time become legend.  Even their use of language has devolved into something that would, in some cases, sound unfamiliar to our ears. They sit around a roaring fire in the ruins of a city. Using their tradition of oral history, they carve out a new legend of the road warrior. The worldbuilding that M R Carey has crafted in these three novels has that same detailed sense of tradition; the countryside peppered with isolated pockets of humanity, clinging on to the old ways that have become warped into something else over successive generations.

I think I mentioned when I reviewed the first book in this series that I did a bit of research to confirm the existence of the villages and places the author mentions. I love that he has taken real places and woven them into the fabric of his narrative. If you take a look at a map, their names may have been changed slightly, but they are there alright. I love little things like that. Tweaking something familiar, something entirely ordinary and changing it for the purposes of a good story.

This trilogy contains the same enthralling writing that drew me to The Girl with All the Gifts and The Boy on the Bridge. The Fall of Koli is a perfect bittersweet coda to round out The Rampart Trilogy. I’ve read a huge amount of apocalyptic fiction over the years, and these books are right up near the very top of the list. There is little denying that M R Carey is a master when it comes to the end of the world.

The Fall of Koli is published by Orbit and is available now. Highly recommended.

My musical recommendation to accompany The Fall of Koli is a soundtrack to a movie called Songbird, by Lorne Balfe. I listened to it recently and it immediately felt like a great fit and you know me, I’m all about the feels.

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