An End to Sorrow is the concluding novel in the Obsidian Path series by Michael R. Fletcher. Black Stone Heart was a finalist in the 2021 Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO), and with good reason as it’s an excellent book. The follow up novel, She Dreams in Blood, continued Khraen’s quest to piece together his fractured obsidian heart.
So finally, we come to the resolution of the tale of Khraen, the Demon Emperor, who has been resurrected as a shell of his former self, missing the shards of his heart and with these pieces, his scattered memories. He’s accompanied by his faithful friend and follower, Bren as they attempt to recover the necromancer queen Henska, who might or might not have Kraen’s best interest at heart.
“Once we had a nest egg, we could open a cosy little tavern somewhere, sell good beer and fresh meals to weary travelers. That sounded a lot better than floundering about in Abieszan harbour for my dead wife’s head so she could kill me for being a selfish asshole.”
As we see, Khraen is reluctant to finish his quest and get those final pieces of his former self. At this point he fears that he will lose his chance at redemption and simply fall into the trap of the dominant powers he’d wielded thousands of years ago at his full strength. Bren is his conscience in a way, the one person in his life that Khraen cares for without using or being used by him to achieve sinister ends.
Khraen’s problem now is that the closer he gets to his end goal, the more he loses the man he has become on the journey to achieve those goals. Through the Obsidian Path series, we have seen his character development as he struggles between wanting to reacquire his vast powers of his previous life, but live life now as a better man, learning from the mistakes he has made along the way.
An End to Sorrow is a continuation (and perhaps the conclusion?) of a study of right and wrong, and the moral self-reflection of a man destined to forge out a new path in the shadow of his villainous history. He learns why he’d made some of the choices in his previous life and in his inward reflection we see that he wasn’t purely evil but had at times a greater good in mind. This moral fiber is driving him in the present as well as he feels the need to do better but at every turn seems to be pulled toward that dark path he’d trod before.
Once more I was amazed at the way Fletcher’s mind works in his narrative voice. I’ve read most of his published works to this point and I always wonder what deep, dark well he draws forth these ideas. He never fails to deliver, and An End to Sorrow is another entry in Fletcher’s study of human motivation and need.
Read An End to Sorrow by Michael R. Fletcher