This review is spoiler-free not only for Vanguard but also for the three books that come before it, so I will refrain from identifying particular characters by name and will be stingy with certain details.
I have loved this trilogy since the first book, Enclave, and watching this series and its characters grow into something so exquisite has been magical. Reading the summaries of these books, you see words like plague, apocalypse, and war… so how is it that these stories are such a thing of beauty? Because Ann Aguirre is a brilliant wordsmith, and she has filled the pages with characters who have so much heart and hopefulness that you can’t help but be inspired and fall deeply in love.
Horde, the third and what I thought was the final book in the trilogy, was everything a final book should be. It contained an epilogue that is still one of my most favorite epilogues of all time. I thought all of my favorite characters had closure… but I forgot a few. One of those being an essential character in the trilogy – Tegan. I loved Tegan, but I realize now that she had been overshadowed by the main characters of the series. I was much like Millie and many of the villagers who had a case of hero worship with those two characters, and I failed to realize that Tegan was still carrying the pain of her past that she had yet to unburden herself of. Tegan’s story was just beginning. So taking place exactly ten months after the War of the River, the next part of her adventure opens. With Millie by her side, she begins a quest that pairs them with the reluctant Szarok, who is on a mission of his own. And what an adventure they all have! Tegan absolutely shines in this story! Going in, I could not wait to be reunited with two characters from the previous books; and once that happened, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I only had eyes for Tegan. I certainly enjoyed seeing old friends; but when Tegan parted from their company, I was more than happy to follow. That says so much about the author, the plot, and a character who I once considered secondary but who has grown so much into this lead role. She is an amazing heroine and her courage and determination unmatched.
“I always get up again. That’s what you learn from falling.”
Szarok. There is so much I want to say about him, and yet I want everyone to discover his attributes on their own. An exceptional character and one that I admit… crept up on me. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to “learn” him.
“I will be home and shelter for you. I will be an island where the water never rises.”
Vanguard is a perfect companion novel, one that thrills and delights, that answers any questions left over from the trilogy, and (this is important to me)… one that doesn’t take away or change a thing from that amazing epilogue of book three. It ties in so perfectly – it’s the novel that was there all along just waiting to be discovered. I will always be open to more from these characters because they are fictional family and friends, but I love that this gives such closure and resolution to everyone that played a role in the saga. Brilliant, exciting, and beautiful, this is a series I want all my friends to have on their shelves.
“So each time my heart beats and yours answers, our song is complete.”