Review copy provided by Tor Books.
Jo is, as I have said in previous reviews, a dear friend, and also you will find me in the acknowledgments, because I have already read this book twice to comment on it before it was published. Let no one say there is a secret cabal here, because this cabal is right out in the open.
So. Necessity. It is the end of a trilogy, and I think that it does the thing where it reminds you of what has come before, what is important about the previous volumes, quite admirably. I don’t think that it’s going to be a very good choice to read without the others–the emotional weight won’t be there, the impact won’t be there. So really start with The Just City if you haven’t. But if you’re a person who wants the series to be complete–this series is really, really complete. The ending is an ending really and for true. The first one stands alone completely, and each of the others is doing a different enough thing that they’re worth having on their own, not just warmed-up leftovers, but they also follow the arc on naturally as the best kind of sequels do. There are new characters here as well as some of the old ones.
There is robot viewpoint. And that is my favorite thing. My very, very favorite thing. Not only do you finally get more about characters who are not golds–major characters in this book are Iron and Silver, hurrah hurrah!–but Crocus, Crocus speaks. Crocus speaks at length. This is in some ways the book where the robots and the aliens come into their own, without the gods giving up their say in the process. So yes: a very weird book, robots and aliens and gods and time travel, like nothing else I can point at, very hard to talk about without spoilers for the others.
(There are aliens, though! That’s a spoiler but! Aren’t you glad I did?)
The series continues to take on volition, purpose, and consent head-on. How to live, how to grapple with time and causality and the gods…things take a turn for the metaphysical but do not leave the realm of human emotion in this volume. The cities and their inhabitants continue to evolve, to change and grow and learn. And to free themselves and each other, which is the best part of all.
I don’t believe there’s much likelihood that you’re bound by necessity–the loops of time, potential paradoxes–to seek out this one. So you can do it of your own free will, which always feels nicer.