Top positive review
Either ending could have worked, but what if...
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on October 28, 2020
This review dwells mostly on the ending, so you can assume there may be spoilers. Don't read this until after you have finished the book yourself!
I still don't know how I feel about the ending of this book and series. Father Time knew it would all work out if Everley decided to fix the break in time, even if she lost all of her experiences and memories. And it does work out in a way. The current ending also works and allows the reader to fill in the blanks of how they might all be reunited in this alternate timeline.
But to me, it still feels like she will never become the person she was without the struggles in life that she had to endure. It's nice that she still remembers most of it and can make stories out of them, and that she at least meets Jamison again naturally and we can assume they will eventually end up together. But it's unlikely that she'll ever meet Claret, Laverick, and Vevina again, whether they are still streetwalkers or not. She'll very likely never meet the giant and elven friends again, or Radella, will never learn swordfighting or how to overcome fears like trusting people or swimming with a clock heart. She won't have the same belief and faith in the deities, Mother Madrona, Eiocha, and Father Time, because she will never have to go on a journey to save the timeline, will never go through the ups and downs to develop her own faith in them. She'll never be stubborn and resistant to friendship and have to overcome those things to trust those around her. Ideally, she will be better and won't have those same trust issues because Markham never influenced her life. She will have normal life problems to deal with, which is presumably the life she was intended to have, as Father Time implied earlier. But still, it's not the same.
In fact, if Markham was erased from the timeline entirely, that's hundreds of years unaffected by his actions. Yes it would fix the world from all of his evil influence, but it would also drastically alter the entire history since before he was born, including Princess Amadara's life as a Time-Bearer and protector of the person who created Eiocha's violin and his seclusion and eventual betrayal, destruction of the Land of Youth, all kinds of influence in the Land of Promise, Land Under the Wave, Land of , and potentially all the other lands affected by his mischief and scheming. Does the resetting of the timeline mean the triad was never reunited? Everley and her cause to take down Markham never happened, so there was no reason for elves to care or interfere with humans, no exposure of humans in the Silver Clouded Plain, no common cause for them to reunite and fight together. So the Silver Clouded Plain was never unlocked, and the giants are still trapped in their own world and are not allowed to connect with the others because Everley never convinced Eiocha to forgive them and reopen their portals. The Black Forest is still untouched with sleeping warrior giants beneath. Things just go unchanged and unresolved between the peoples. At least Markham's damage eventually united all the different creatures and would lead to better worlds in the end. Maybe that's just one perspective.
It's risky to mess with time because someone will always see it another way and want something changed. I personally wouldn't have minded if Everley survived and defeated Markham but wasn't able to reset the timeline. It changed the worlds, I think for the better eventually, and they would use what they experienced as reminders for why that can't happen again. All the worlds would remember the destruction of the Land of Youth and would work hard to never let it happen again. They would appreciate the cooperation of all the creatures now that they have been reunited and can understand each other. They can share what they've learned with their peoples so they understand the intentions of the deities for why each race was given a certain world. They can appreciate their own worlds, their own purposes, and work together to improve them again, just as they were created for. It's unfortunate that none of those learned lessons will remain. Maybe in the stories Everley will write about her adventures. But that won't solve the issues among the races and worlds that existed even before Markham got involved.
I still accept the current ending and believe they all deserve a chance at the lives they were meant to have without interference. They deserve to be happy and live well. I'm just saying, the other way would have been an alternate ending and I think readers would have accepted it also. The worlds are a mess after war, but we learn to appreciate what was learned and saved, and rebuild to be even better and avoid those terrible mistakes again. I would have accepted either ending. I don't hate the current one, I just had to get my thoughts out there about why leaving the timeline as it was could have still worked. I still enjoyed this adventurous series though!