The CHRONICLES OF THE INVADERS by John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard comes to a satisfying conclusion with Dominion, the final book of the trilogy. We get a post-apocalyptic survival story on earth, an off-planet prison break, space battles, and political skullduggery and espionage in the halls of the Nairene Sisterhood. Each character faces multiple layers of jeopardy as the story comes to a close, and it’s not certain that everyone we like will live.
In the past, the Illyri invaded and conquered Earth. The conquest was uneasy because the human resistance movement kept fighting. Illyri girls Syl Hellais and her friend Ani Cienda met Paul and Steven, human members of that resistance. Syl and Paul fell in love, and soon discovered something deadly to both races: the Illyri have been infiltrated and colonized by the Others, a parasitic collective race. The Others have been in control of key Illyri figures for longer than anyone realized.
At the end of Empire, the second book, Syl, Paul, and several others made their way through an uncharted wormhole, pursued by Illyri ships. Ani and Syl were both forced into the Nairene Sisterhood, but Ani had come to believe in the sisterhood’s purpose, and doubted what Syl told her. The two longtime friends parted as adversaries.
In Dominion, Paul and Syl meet a race that is new to both of them, and that race provides vital information about the Others. Meanwhile, Steven and his band scour the star systems for people to fight against the Illyri Diplomat corps, which is almost completely Other-infiltrated. Earth has been devastated as the Illyri release the deadly Other spores onto the planet, but pockets of humanity remain alive and hidden.
Connolly and Ridyard juggle the various storylines with grace. The multiple threads allow them to ratchet up the suspense by cutting away from one storyline (like the jailbreak) just at that crucial point…
Neither Connolly nor Ridyard are as interested in the science or the physics as much as they are the action. A lot of the “science” looks like magic. Ships jump from wormholes to get from here to there, and in one scene Ani gives a character a vial filled with genetically engineered seeds that are so perfect they can only be magic.
Along with the action and the political maneuvering, the writers are interested in the emotional impact on their young characters. Paul and Steven are battle-hardened fighters who have killed, but they both struggle with the fear that their mother is dead on Earth. As Syl’s powers grow and emerge, Paul realizes that, while he still loves her, he is becoming afraid of her. In a couple of places, like Syl’s one-on-one discussion with the entity they meet beyond the wormhole, the emotional connections feel a bit forced. Most of the time, though, the misunderstandings and squabbles, especially between Paul and his younger brother, are realistic.
My favorite story arc is that of Syl’s friend Ani, who made a radically different choice than her friend at the end of the second book. Ani now knows about the Others, and she has risen high in the Nairene Sisterhood. Her choices and actions are very important to the plot, and I enjoyed watching her come into her own. Ani was overshadowed by “special” Syl, and Ani wrestles with that throughout Dominion without slowing down the action. Ani has definitely changed, and her changes create tension and suspense… because where does her loyalty lie? We’re not sure we know.
The star ships are good, the Others are creepy-gross, the new monsters on Earth are scary, and the story rolls along, gathering excitement ‘til the multi-scene climax. And who doesn’t love a good jail-break? There is a nice Stars Wars: A New Hope reference too. Dominion is a satisfying, well-written ending to a broad-canvas story.