The Unmaker – Michael Pryor

Cover blurb
‘Alone and lost in strange worlds… Saul Harding finds himself cut off from the House of Many Rooms when the magical network of Doorways collapses, swamping the fabled world in a wave of darkness. Saul must find a way to help his parents, who are lost deep in an unnatural coma. And somehow he must work his way back to the Princess and her Followers before the Unmaker destroys the House of Many Rooms – and unravels the whole fabric of creation itself.’

‘The third and final book in a thrilling new trilogy by one of Australia’s most talented science fiction/fantasy authors.’

Michael Pryor says
The last volume of a trilogy can be tricky. The characters (and the readers) have been working towards this for some time – how does the writer bring it to a conclusion that is satisfying, while at the same time bringing all the loose ends together? And managing all of this while throwing in a few twists in the tail. Tolkien spent the last quarter of the final volume of The Lord of the Rings in conclusion mode, and even then had appendices to add! The Unmaker is also where we meet the driving force behind the events in the first two volumes, the puppet master who has been manipulating Stefan and causing the chaos in the House of Many Rooms and all the associated worlds. I’ve always liked the idea of shadows within shadows, of uncovering layers of reality, and that’s what happens in this book. The Princess, Saul, Nico and the rest all pierce close to the heart of things and discover what lies behind what they take for granted.

The Unmaker begins
Sometimes, Saul Harding thought his parents were becoming transparent. As they lay fading away n their hospital beds, he thought he could see right through them to the sheets and pillows.

Saul sat watching, half afraid they’d disappear if he took his eyes off them. He took an apple from the untouched fruit basket, but after tossing it from hand to hand for a few minutes, he put it back. Then he turned on the TV and channel surfed for a while, barely glancing at the screen. Eventually, he turned it off and, with one last glance at his parents, slipped out of the room.

He stood in the corridor staring through the window at the park outside. The weather was unsettled – as it had often been lately – and the sky ws the dull, grey colour of overwashed clothes. Ragged streamers of cloud drifted, with no particular place to go.

I’m cut off, Saul thought, hands deep in his jacket pockets. He rested his head against the glass and closed his eyes.

“Cold for summer, isn’t it?” Saul turned, but the nurse had swept on down the corridor without waiting for an answer.

He glanced at the door to his parents’ room. He didn’t know if he could bear to go back in and sit there, watching them not move, not respond. They hadn’t opened their eyes at all in the month since he’d brought them back from the House of Many Rooms, and the hours he’d spent at their bedside seemed a waste. Even though he knew he wouldn’t have done otherwise.

The Princess said they’d be all right, he thought, and he felt a sudden pain in his hand. He looked down to see that he’d clenched his fists so tightly that his fingernails had cut into his palms, leaving a row of tiny, bloody half-moons.

Saul shrugged and began to trudge towards his parents’ room. But before he could get there he saw two familiar figures emerge from the lift. As always, they both hesitated, looked right and left, then up and down, before they started along the corridor towards Saul. Without really thinking, Saul turned and walked briskly in the opposite direction.

“Hey! Saul Harding!”
He didn’t stop. Two quick turns and he was at a stairwell. He flung open the door and ran down the stairs, all the time trying not to think of what usually happened to people who ran away from cops.