Nov 18 2014

A Review of Succubus Ascendant by B. R. Kingsolver

Succubus Ascendant by B. R. Kingsolver

Succubus Ascendant by B. R. Kingsolver

I was really quite pleased and thrilled when I discovered that the author B. R. Kingsolver had released the latest work in the Telepathic Clans series a short time ago. I have reviewed the first, second, third and fourth works in the series before on the Tale and I have always enjoyed the stories told, the moments shared and the world created that tells of those known as Succubi and what they are seen to be.

It has been for me a pleasure to read the stories of those called Succubi, how they deal with who they are, how they are seen by others, and what strengths they hold within themselves. The paths have not been easy, never that by far, but in spite of the obstacles placed to hinder them… They manage to work miracles in the name of the Goddess.

This, the latest work in the series, is also told to be the very last part of the story of Brenna and Rebecca, Rhiannon, Irina and the Irish Clans. As the story that brings the series to a close, it has much to manage and much to live up to. It is a story that tells of the darkness that can appear without warning and all that it is capable of. But it also tells of the truth that belief in doing the right thing for the right reasons can make a difference. Sometimes to just one person, and sometimes to souls beyond counting…

The work tells the story of:

Corwin has led Clan O’Neill for one hundred and fifty years. Nearing the end of his long life, he names a twenty-three year old girl as his heir. Not only is Brenna a member of Clan O’Donnell, she’s also a succubus, and many people disagree with his choice. When Corwin dies, his son Hugh launches an open rebellion.

But Brenna is named heir not only to O’Neill, but also to Clan O’Byrne, where Clan Chief Fergus’s oldest son Andrew joins with Hugh and Finnian O’Neill in their rebellion. Faced with war on two fronts, and rebels using terrorist tactics that capture the attention of the human press and authorities, Brenna must fight off assassination attempts while trying to consolidate her rule.

As if all that wasn’t exciting enough, her friend Irina is the target of repeated kidnapping attempts by members of a Russian Clan. Hoping to protect Irina, O’Donnell mounts an operation against the Gorbachev Clan. But the situation in Russia is no more stable than in Ireland, and they discover Irina is at the heart of the Russian Clans’ internal plots.

Confused yet? Be glad you aren’t Brenna and Rebecca, as they—along with Rhiannon, Irina, and the Irish Clans—attempt to sort through the mess in Succubus Ascendant, the action-packed conclusion of The Telepathic Clans Saga.

It is a time of crisis for Brenna. Her world is changing, those around her are as well. Some for the better, some for the worst. A moment arrives and she is thrust into a place that she never expected, never wanted, but will, to the best she can, honour for the right reasons. And woe to those that cannot see that in her.

The series has always been about family, what one will do for their own. What someone might be capable of, either good or bad, and where that leads them in their lives. Much of the story is wrapped in Brenna’s becoming more than the power she is as a Succubus, but more that she is a power in the world she lives in. There are those that fear her, oppose her, and will do anything to hurt, harm, or if they can, end her. The level of that pushback in the story thrusts Brenna and her immediate family and close friends towards situations that turn both good and bad at the same time. With that arrives the answers to several questions about her own family that have been floating at the edges of the series. When these come to pass, when the truth comes out, it is in those moments where Brenna’s strength of will really shines. There are moments in the story where she reveals things about herself and those around her that were hinted at, but never really expressed fully.

To watch Brenna as she deals with politics, something she never cared for, sometimes makes one smile and in other moments you cannot help but feel the pain that she goes through. There are many moments where the threats to Brenna hurt, or worse, those she loves and those moments are quite painful to read. Perhaps the saddest thing about all those that oppose her is that they do not know their own history, see what has come before, and do not learn from it. The question of force and the question of will are two themes that run throughout the story and it is important to see how that comparison reflects against Brenna herself.

Part of that reflection is Rebecca in which comes part of an answer that was never spoken but has remained with this series from the first instant that Rebecca met Brenna. There is a acceptance in her, a settling of herself that comes when their world turns towards a new path, a new purpose, and it is that focusing of Rebecca that grounds Brenna in many ways.

Really no one comes through these moments unscathed, there are everlasting scars that some have carried with them all of their lives reopened and for others they are deeply cut, the wounds to be with them for the rest of their lives. The overriding question that comes with that is: What do they do and why? It is that choice that reveals the true nature of many, and it is that choice that tells of more than who they are, but more of what they are inside.

While Brenna is quite active in this story, much of the events are told from the point of view of those around her, and it was a nice surprise to see that the main character of Broken Dolls, Rhiannon, takes a very central role in this story as well. There are some fascinating moments with her that tell much of what wasn’t said in the previous work and I think as a whole it made her a much more interesting character. She faces moments where she is pushed, prodded, and placed into situations and events that take her to the edge at times but there’s something more. There is also the moments where the truth of who she is, what she desires, comes out clearly. The revelation of her innermost secret and the consequences of that bring about a climax to the work that is shattering.

While there are many events and changes for all, the one character that goes through the most is Irina by far. When her past is told, what it means, and then, where that takes Irina and Rhiannon is a complex web of lies, truths, strengths and weaknesses. It has been clear from her first appearance that Irina had an inner strength, a power within herself that held her together, gave her purpose and the will to continue. When that is unleashed, her true power, that of her own will to survive, to overcome, to prove her own worth to herself, is a gripping story on its own.

There are consequences in the end that mean losses for many, grief for still more. But there is also a strong hope for the future that Brenna offers going forwards that shines a light into the corners where they all tread. The final pages of the work tell a story that, while the work has come to a conclusion, there is a future that stands in front of Brenna and those around her. That future will not be easy or simple, but it does bring about something to reflect upon. That is the path that Brenna has taken from where she started in this series to where she is now and what the future holds.

It is a moment, a good one, when the question of Brenna being a Succubus comes into question, what that means to her family and the society she lives in. There is quite a lot of dismissal of her, of her sister Succubi as well. Revealing what they have done, are capable of, and more importantly, those that support them is when the tide begins to turn for the Succubi. There is more to battle again, more opposition that cannot see past the beauty that they see. They miss the power, the passion, and the will. It is that will that can shape the world.

Lovingly written, the moments are passionate at times, but when the tears come, there is no holding them back. The pain is real, strong, and it isn’t forgotten in the next moment. It is with each character and it never leaves them. But then, neither does the light they hold within them as well. The work ties up many of the plots, questions, and more in the series that have been there from the beginning, but there is something more as well.

The work ends on a point which leaves a very interesting open question about Brenna’s future, that of her family and that of the Clans themselves. Even if that question is never returned to, it does offer a view of the future, of Brenna herself, that I thought made a lot of sense and brought the series full circle. It is a satisfying read that is worthwhile, tells an intelligent story, and offers lovely closure to a series that I have enjoyed from the beginning and cherish dearly.

I’m giving this work five of five pitchforks.

A well told story that ties up much of the series in many ways, but also allows for change, growth, and most of all, the passions within the characters to be fully seen for all they have within them. There is loss, strife and fear. But there is also hope, strength and a trust that never wavers.

I am, I must admit, saddened that this is the end of the story of the Clans… I do have a hope that it is perhaps not forever, maybe not for always. There is always hope that the threads offered at the end of the series can be picked up in the future and those stories told. The future is something untold, unseen, but in time it does come to pass. Some stories never really end when they are the ones that you remember the most…

…this is one that I do… often.




  1. avatar

    While an author as good as this ties up the threads at the end of a series, and while there may be no intention of ever returning, a wise author leaves a back door to get back in, because there are always . . . possibilities . . .

  2. avatar

    And there are always possibilities…


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