The Wraiths of War – Obsidian HeartBook Three by Mark Morris
I read the first book of the Obsidian Heart trilogy (The Wolves of London) back in 2014. Wolves introduced us to time travelling former jailbird turned lecturer Alex Locke who acquires a mysterious human heart carved from obsidian, with the curious ability to facilitate time travel. Naturally possession of such a useful object is highly desirable and soon Alex finds himself hopping back and forth from Victorian London as seeks to find his kidnapped daughter and do battle with the Wolves of London, supernatural creatures created by mad science.
Wolves left Alex and his sidekick Klover Munroe stranded in Victorian London with a burnt out version of the heart. In Book Two: The Society of Blood Alex and Klover seek out the mysterious and malevolent Dark Man to retrieve the younger version of the heart, aided and abetted by older versions of Alex who drop in from the future, while the heart reveals the dire consequences for Alex of trying to alter time streams past.
The Wraiths of War picks up the story from the dramatic conclusion of Blood. In Wraiths Alex has to lay a lot of the ground work for the events that have already taken place in Wolves and Blood. Fortunately there are older versions of himself to give a bit of guidance, but on the down side he has to survive the trenches of the First World War in order to befriend Frank the soldier who had already helped him out in Wolves. He also has to track down a stage magician from the 1940s with whom his past and future are inextricable linked and finally have that showdown with the Dark Man.
This is a pretty impressive feat of storytelling as Morris manages to tie up all the loose ends posited by the first two books of the trilogy. It must have taken quite some planning over three volumes as the hero, future versions of himself and other characters dip in and out of the narrative while maintaining a coherent past, present and future. Despite the complexity of this temporal tripping backwards and forwards this is a really well written and exciting read. As with the streets of Victorian London of Blood Morris has described the horrors of the trenches really vividly, you can almost taste the mud in your tea.
We also get to meet some old friends again, in gangster Benny, Klover and Frank, discover just who the Dark Man is and why he has it in for Alex so bad and find out exactly where daughter Kate went at the beginning of the story. I think it’s fair to say that as the reveals are set up they don’t always surprise the reader, but that in no way spoils the fun.
A satisfying conclusion to a great trilogy I give The Wraiths of War a 666/666.
The Wraiths of War is out now in the UK from Titan Books price £7.99