Review | An End to Sorrow – Michael R. Fletcher

About the Book


Abandoned by his god and chained in the bilge of Iremaire’s war galley, Khraen has lost everything.

His only friend is dead, his wife beheaded and thrown into the ocean.

In an act of true self-destruction, a shard of Khraen’s heart stalks the islands destroying the others.

His sword calls him home to PalTaq, where it all began.

Only there can Khraen find an end to sorrow.

Publishing May 15, 2022
Pre-order here

I edited this book.

Well, I’m going to do it. I’m going to attempt to do this book some sort of justice, but oh, it’s going to be hard. This might be one of the most difficult books I’ve ever reviewed. How, dear reader, can one person really articulate how amazing this book truly was? 

The fact of the matter is, I still don’t quite know what to say. This book just floored me, and in the closing of one series, Fletcher opens some doors that only made his particular universe even larger. I mean, how is that even possible? The guy, at this point, defies the laws of nature. 

An End to Sorrow is nothing short of magisterial. This is the kind of series ender that should be used to teach all authors how to end a series. Here, we have epic highs and the lowest of lows. Relentless battles and extreme odds make this read like a pulse-pounding thrill ride, but then there are quieter moments as well, emotional depths that I’ve learned, over the course of editing six of the guy’s books, to expect, but still always manage to surprise me. 

I don’t really know how to talk about An End to Sorrow without giving all of it away. I still, honestly, am trying to sort through the impact of this series. Editing it has been an adventure. I’ve learned a lot about writing and editing by working on Fletcher’s books. More, I’ve been gifted the opportunity to watch a master artist at his craft, to watch him evolve and grow with each installment, see how he hones his craft and grasps his story with both hands, aggressively pushing it to the furthest extremes. And somehow, he wrestles the bear and wins. Editing for Fletcher has been one of the most illuminating experiences in my professional life. Editing this series for him has been nothing short of incredible. 

Khraen is one of the most morally ambiguous characters I’ve ever read, and that’s part of why I love the guy. He’s just so completely… Khraen, and Fletcher knows how to tap into that moral ambiguity and confusion and make it truly shine. Here, in An End to Sorrow, is Khraen’s long-awaited crescendo. We’ve been building up to it over two books. What I love most about his arc, specifically in this book, is how perfectly Fletcher managed to balance Khraen’s inner landscape with his outer struggle. There’s a lot of introspection here, Khraen not only trying to figure out what to do next, but also trying to figure out where he fits in all of this, and how much of himself is truly worth knowing. 

Acceptance and rejection were core themes here, both on personal levels and on a much larger, external scale. What happens in the journey, the battles Khraen faces, the decisions he makes, are all mirrored in his inner landscape. It was absolutely astounding, how each thrust of a weapon, each maneuver, each decision made that furthered the plot, opened up a wellspring of inner strife, turmoil, and confusion. Emotional notes that hit just as hard as any sword thrust ever could. 

Ultimately, this series is about a fundamentally wounded, flawed man picking up the pieces of himself, and it’s not easy. It never is, but that is a story we all relate to. This breaking, fracturing, loss and then the slow, painful process of putting ourselves back together after the cataclysm. That’s the ultimate power of the story. Fletcher takes an experience we all relate to and makes it uniquely his own. We connect, and through that connection, we’re captivated. It’s that powerful connection that Fletcher uses to toy with us so very well.

An End to Sorrow is a masterpiece. It took me a few weeks after editing it just to process how much I loved this book, and then a few more weeks to get up the courage to message Fletcher and bounce some theories off him. I’m still sitting here, so long after the edit, kind of reeling. I don’t feel like I’ve stopped yet. I’ve honestly never read anything like this, and I’ve never had a book hangover that sunk its claws in this deep. I’m not quite sure how it happened, but at some point along the way, this entire series became part of me, etched in bone, spoken into my marrow. 

Pulse-pounding? Yes. Thrillride? Yes. Moral ambiguity? Oh yeah. It’s all here… but the series never loses its fundamental humanity, neither does it ever lose the voices of both the author and the characters, and that’s the true power of this series. Here are characters with abilities one could ascribe to divinity, and yet they are all flawed, with pieces missing. So incredibly human. Here, Khraen, despite how much he changes, is fundamentally still the Khraen I was introduced to in book one. So much is different, and yet the important stuff stays the same: the voices, the artistry, the authors ability to tell a story.

Fletcher flagrantly breaks the rules, and shows how powerful rule breaking can truly be.

The plot is relentless. It never lets up. There isn’t much time for quiet moments, but there are some, and Fletcher uses them like a hammer to hit the emotional notes just right, making the entire work feel so perfectly balanced. The fights are extremely well written, with almost surgical precision. The creatures you’ll see are things that HP Lovecraft would look at with awe. The ending is… I mean, wow. 

I realize this is less of a book review, and more of a… I don’t even know what. The issue is, this series is just amazing, from top to bottom. It started out fantastic, and then it just kept getting better, until the ending, which is its own sort of Fletcheresque subversion that I am absolutely *dying* to talk to someone about because I’m still reeling, honestly. 

I don’t quite know what to say.

Editing for Fletcher has been one of the best parts of my career. Every time he throws a book at me, I get excited in a way that is unique to him. It’s been incredible to watch his writing evolve, the way he pushes himself to new heights, new extremes, new highs and new lows. I haven’t ever really seen anything like it, and being behind the scenes, being able to watch the master at work in some small way has been, well, formative. Being part of this series in the tiny capacity I’ve been from beginning to end is a true feather in my cap. I cannot believe I was lucky enough to work on these books. 

I don’t know if this is a review or just a 1000+ word diatribe wherein I tell you how fantastic I think Fletcher is, but I should probably cover my bases here and talk a bit about the book itself. 

An End to Sorrow is the best series ender I’ve ever read, period. Action packed, with no detail overlooked, this was the culmination of a journey I should have prepared myself for first, but looking back on it, I know there’s no way to prepare for something like this. I don’t think I’ve ever been this engrossed by a series, much less a book.

I’ll be picking pieces of Khraen from my soul for a while yet. 

5/5 stars