There have also been at least a couple of well-lauded fantasy series out there which I've put aside due to the trusted opinions of a great bookish friend of mine of its weak concluding books. Most of the times, the final book disappoints by introducing new characters that serve no purpose or having the main characters taking a different direction in their growth or personalities. The other common rant is how the plot goes off-tangent or becomes drawn-out unnecessarily.
I encountered none of these issues in The Silver Tide. The series progressed from strength to strength from a decent debut in The Copper Promise to a better sequel and ended with a fittingly epic climax. Throughout the entire series, Wydrin, Frith and Sebastian with all their respective strengths and flaws remained consistent even as each character grows, both individually and collectively, through the good, bad and dire situations they experienced. In this final chapter, Wydrin's characterisation gets even more fleshed out thanks to the appearance of a new character, Devinia the Red - a formidable female pirate. This is where the series excelled over many others in my opinion; the introduction of new characters in each book enhances the story and development of our main characters.
In my previous review of the sequel, I nitpicked about the voice or tone of the story and how it does not seem to have a firm footing. I wish to take that back now as in my mind, Jen Williams has crafted a modern high fantasy tale that is her own and does not try to emulate the more popular grimdark or epic sub-genre. The Copper Cat trilogy is simply a well-told and entertaining story about three friends and their grand adventures which incidentally have devastating implications on humanity in the world of Ede. I would term this high fantasy because the use of magic is very dominant in the narrative. Again I have to revert my earlier comment around a minor issue I had with what I deemed as a plot device on the magic system. I was swept away by the manner in which the different concepts and sources of the magic of the world come together in the epic finale. Well, frankly, I was just having so much fun at the end that all these little rants don't matter anymore. The only problem still present is around the absence of a map, which I strongly believe is an essential detail in the high fantasy genre and particularly when characters travel around a fair bit.
The story is straightforward with a tight plot that does not try too hard to be smart. Williams' prose remains uncomplicated and easy to read, even as her writing has noticeably improved from one instalment to another. Most importantly I need to highlight the near faultless pacing of the entire trilogy. While the first two books do have some lulls in its middle sections, I never had a dull moment reading them. Then we come to this final volume; even though it is the longest book by a fair bit, it is paced superbly with something intriguing happening almost all the freaking time. The balance of action and dialogue and character development is quite remarkable. Notably, a lot of the travelling sequences are either cut short or totally absent, thus keeping the momentum of the storytelling.
The Copper Cat trilogy is a sweet breath of fresh air which harkens back to the good old days of classic high fantasy, yet tempered by modern touches of characterisation. With such an encouraging experience from reading Jen Williams' debut trilogy, I am now keen to read to her sophomore attempt, The Winnowing Flame Trilogy.
I recommend this to fantasy fans who yearn for a balance between classic and modern epic fantasy, and as well as readers who are new to fantasy.