Rielle is traveling with the angel, Corien. In this world, Angels are powerful creatures who had warred with humans and been trapped in a terrible place to end the war. While some angels (like Corien) are definitely not good at heart, others do strive to be better - creating a juxtaposition in the species much like humans though with significantly more power.
Rielle's mind has been warped by Corien, and he is leading her to destroy the Gate which keeps the angels locked in the terrible world the humans had sent them to. As the Sun Queen, it was thought that she would seal it to keep them from overtaking and destroying humanity. In her chapters, we see her mind challenging itself and fighting to come to terms with her grief over her past mistakes and questioning of who she will become.
Eliana was taken to the future by a type of Elemental called a marque, who typically moves over distances. She has grown up in this cruel landscape where the gate has fallen, Empirium no longer exists, and her life has been full of struggle. In this book, following a terrible betrayal, she is in the hands of the future Corien, who is torturing her and those she loves, including her little brother, to try to get her to bring back Empirium.
As their paths forge ahead, Eliana and Rielle must connect if their world and humanity stands any chance of survival.
What I loved: This book is truly epic. It made me cry, sigh, and definitely gave me chills. This book gets dark and explores many different emotions in such powerful ways that it is quite moving. This is definitely a heavy read, but the past books have been building to such and it's so beautifully woven together. Love in all its forms (friendship, family, romantic) is explored throughout this book and trilogy, and its truly breathtaking in places how it appears.
Other themes in this book are really potent such as the value of an individual vs. the many and morality as we contain both good and bad. This series would be fantastic for a book club, as there are so many ideas that merit discussion and this is definitely one that readers will be eager to talk about.
The characters all have a complexity that makes them highly compelling. We dive deeper not only into Rielle and Eliana, but also Simon, Audric, Remy, Jessamyn, Ludivine, and Obritsa, and they are all characters who captured my heart in their own ways. Sometimes, they broke it, but only because of how much love I had for them all. This series has a way of making all of them and their stories seem so real.
This book follows the previous book closely in time and does not spend time recapping, so it is helpful to have read the earlier books recently (or reminded yourself with a synopsis). There are a lot of characters and times to remember, though it is definitely worth the effort.
Final verdict: Be prepared for your undoing with this magnificent finale. LIGHTBRINGER is the terrific conclusion that will trample on your heart and stick with you - the sign of a truly epic read. Highly recommend picking up this trilogy for any lovers of dark fantasy and fantastic world- and character-building.