Thank you NetGalley and Tachyon Publications for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine.
SYNOPSIS: Who is Last?
Fame is rare in Driftwood―it’s hard to get famous if you don't stick around long enough for people to know you. But many know the guide, Last, a one-blooded survivor who has seen his world end many lifetimes ago. For Driftwood is a strange place of slow apocalypses, where continents eventually crumble into mere neighborhoods, pulled inexorably towards the center in the Crush. Cultures clash, countries fall, and everything eventually disintegrates.
Within the Shreds, a rumor goes around that Last has died. Drifters come together to commemorate him. But who really was Last? Lying liar, or heroic savior? A mercenary, a charlatan, a legend? A man, an immortal―perhaps even a god? (AMAZON)
Similar to One Thousand and One Nights, Driftwood tells its main tale through the aid of several short stories themed after the main character of Last. Last, who has lived for longer than anyone remembers or knows, while the rest of the worlds slowly disintegrate until they reach the Crush at the center of Driftwood and cease to exist.
As a whole, Driftwood is the sum of a lovely set that touches on our emotions in different ways. There is, throughout, a theme of friendship and bonding that spans along different years by way of the lead. And as the stories are read, we are reminded again and again that everything, eventually, comes to an end—yet there is no reason for one to dwell on that rather than attempt to make the best of the time that is left, live it, enjoy it, and be joyful. It's a takeaway worth keeping no matter the times.
As a reader, I have preferences, and one of them is my desire and enjoyment in getting to know characters and seeing them grow. That's not always easy to do when shorts are used rather than a novel, which is why I don't tend to read them too often. Therefore, it did lack that broadening of self that I want to see in a full cast.
However, as it is, there's also the advantage that a lot of ground was covered throughout the book and the reader gets to experience some of the different cultures and worlds that inhabit Driftwood. And these are fairly different and inventive. Marie Brennan does not lack imagination. With every story, there's something to learn about the people and places we read about, and the original Quinendeniua—or, The Court of Memory—is the little gem that I take with me moving forward.
The entire structure of Driftwood and its workings is not only well drafted and detailed, but I felt the sadness, hopelessness and sorrow that so many of these people feel at the fact that places eventually come to their end, and so do the people that belonged to them. It puts one in the place of Last while reading, thinking of what it must be like to exist as he has—to see so many that he cared for lost and gone, but remain, eventually alone and needing to start again.
There's heart of this book lies in its sentiment.