The Pearl of the Soul of the World by Meredith Ann Pierce: A

From the back cover:
All the world’s wisdom and magic reside within the iridescent depths of a small white pearl. “All my sorcery,” the Ancient Ravenna had said to Aeriel. “It is left to you to save the world.” But is the pearl powerful enough to enable Aeriel to defeat the White Witch? Aeriel’s people have assembled an army and are soon to attack the Witch and her darkangel sons. But their cause is hopeless unless Aeriel can unravel the riddle of Ravenna and unlock the mysteries of the pearl—and of her own destiny.

Rather than starting precisely where the second book left off, this concluding volume of the trilogy picks up some time after, where some mysterious circumstances have befallen Aeriel. She’s quickly discovered by some duarough, a race that lives underground, and so there aren’t long, dull passages where she’s traveling around by herself, which were the bane of book two. Eventually, around page 60 or so, some of the blanks as to what have happened in the meantime start to get filled in, and we find that there was a bit of wandering, but it was summed up in a single sentence. That makes me wonder whether there was some criticism similar to mine after the second book was released, and the author took steps to avert a similar slow start. Whatever the case, I found it immediately easy to get into this volume and the momentum carries through to the end without lulls.

I like the depiction and development of Aeriel’s romantic situation very much. Her feelings seem to make more IC sense now than previously, and I like how there aren’t easy fixes to things.

There’s a little more annoying inconsistency in this one, like some lines of the prophetic rhyme in book two being changed when sung by a couple of different characters with no IC reaction from Aeriel as to this not being correct. And the witch was stealing water? I remember that a river wasn’t at its full glory back in book one, but not much was made about the witch’s big evilness being that she was stealing the water until this last book. Before it was just that she was responsible for creating the darkangels. Oh yeah, and there was hardly any Roshka! These things almost earned the book an A- instead.

The ending, however, is great. That’s all I’m going to say, there, but it’s what brought the score up to a full-fledged A. There’s really some scope there about seeing how far these characters have come since the beginning, although I do wish some of the secondary characters could’ve been fleshed out a lot more.

Ultimately, this trilogy is recommended, though I’m not sure whether I will be buying my own set (I’ve had them out from the library) as I don’t know whether there’s quite enough here to merit a reread. This author has another YA series about unicorns, but I am not really feeling the urge to go investigate it at this point.

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