The Key to Creation

The Key to Creation
Terra Incognita: Book Three

Exploring the oceans for a long lost and fabled land called Terravitae, two ships sail across the world from different directions. One is captained by a Tierran named Criston Vora who, having lost his wife years ago to Uraban raiders, has nothing left but the thrill of the untamed seas. The other ship is led by a young Uraban named Saan who was sent by the Soldan-Shah of Uraba to find the Key to Creation. Their hope is to use the key to end the decades long war with Tierra. Across the oceans, they face fearsome sea creatures and mythical beings as they search for their ancient homeland. While these two captains race against each other in a forlorn hope of ending a war against their hated enemies—each other—what they do not realize is that they are father and son, separated years ago by a cruel village raid. Their journey is but one of dozens in this epic adventure exploring the depths of humanity and the realms of war, religion and discovery. This is The Key to Creation.

As the third book in the Terra Incognita series, this is not a book friendly to new readers. However, if you’re hoping to get an idea of whether this is a series worth diving into and if the third book ends well, then you’re in luck. The Key to Creation has huge payoffs, deep characters, a rich story and brings a great ending to the series. Read no further and save yourself the trouble of spoilers. For those who have already read the first two books, you’re in for a fun rollercoaster ride of emotion. Continuing his character portrait of humanity, author Kevin J. Anderson illustrates the depths of humanity’s hatred and evil as well as it’s neverending ability to show compassion, love and hope. Through the merciless acts of war, the misuse of religion, the inspiring desires of love, and the fundamental truth of cooperation, the book explores a wealth of topics while tying it all into a handful of intriguing character journeys.

One thing I really appreciated about this book is the introductory primer that kicks off the story. At the very front of the book is a 13 page recap of all the major events that happened in The Edge of the World and The Map of All Things. It’s been a while since I’ve read both of those books so it was really helpful to have a refresher to bring me back up to speed. If it’s been years since you’ve read the previous stories, the primer is just the thing to set you on track to dive into this one.

To give readers a taste of what’s in store for them in this final part of the series, you can expect lots of monsters and battles. The main characters face off against the world serpent, the kraken, Raathgir, and the leviathan. There are battles on land and at sea, between the Urabans and the Tierrans, and between mortals and immortals. Each side has surprises in store for the other as the war escalates. They mighty city of Ishalem comes under siege in a final battle that decides the fate of both nations. Characters die, disasters strike where least expected, and for some, there are happy endings.

With the huge cast of characters at play in this novel, Kevin J. Anderson did a surprisingly good job at resolving all of their stories. But the real accomplishment of the book is how all of those character stories intertwine in their individual roles as part of the greater conflict. One person’s journey across the ocean—fighting sea monsters, discovering mythic beings, dealing with the pain of their past and the hope for the future—has the potential to end the main conflict that drives the entire series. Yet that character’s adventure is kept very personal. It explores their strengths and weaknesses, their hope and despair. For each character in the book, there is a personal journey as they discover themselves. However, they all fit into an intricate plot where their accomplishments drive forward the overarching plot. They all affect each other, progressing the story, bringing about surprises and turmoil. When the climax hits, the final pieces fall into place and each character reaches the end of their journey.

Adding even more depth to the whole experience is the array of themes buried within the story. While the nations of Uraba and Tierra are at war with each other, the story goes to great lengths to show how this conflict came about and why it continues. On one hand, it’s the circle of violence. Victims seek out revenge. When an entire nation seeks revenge, it leads to escalating violence as they try to balance the scales of loss. On top of that is the topic of religion. Both sides are fueled by religious fervor. They each think that they know the truth and that the other is wrong. The two religions battle each other over small discrepancies while the core tenets of each faith is the same. Their unwillingness to be open minded becomes their very downfall and spurs the war to even worse lengths. Then there are matters of love, be it a person who comes to love their captor, a ruler who loves a person beneath their station, or even immortals who love the wives of other gods. The book explores how far people are willing to go for love. On the other hand, the book also looks into how far people are willing to go for duty in defiance of love. With all of those themes threaded into the various character plots, the book becomes something very close to a masterpiece of storytelling.

At over 600 pages, The Key to Creation is a book packed full of adventure and entertaining escapism. It explores a fanciful world full of rich characters, exotics lands and mythical creatures. Emotions run the full gamut as the novel explores the extremes of humanity and everything in between. In the end, it’s a very hard book to put down. The war, the turmoil, the shifting tides of fortune, the depths of kindness, compassion, hatred and violence, it all comes together to form a mosaic illustration of life and history. I give The Key to Creation a five out of five metal bikinis and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a deep adventure to get lost in.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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