It's always hard coming to the end of a book series.

Even though this was only a duology and, thus, hasn't taken up the space in my life that certain longer series have in the past (Chronicles of the Necromancer springs to mind), Karen Miller's “Kingmaker, Kingbreaker” series is one I'm having trouble saying good-bye to this evening.

I bought both books, “The Innocent Mage” and “The Awakened Mage,” about 4 years ago (that can't be right, can it? Christ I'm getting old...) and absolutely devoured the first book. The characters were so well-realized, the politicking was -just- prominent enough to be interesting without turning into “A Song of Ice and Fire,” the magic, oh! the magic! Steeped in mystery, clearly following rules, but never quite reaching a point where those rules all made sense. If there's one thing Miller knows how to do, it's give the reader just enough information to be DYING for more while never oversharing and ruining that desire. I couldn't tell you how long it took me to read Book 1, but it can't have been long; a few weeks maybe. I jumped right into Book 2 as soon as I was finished (I doubt I even took a break before cracking it open, honestly) and then...put it down.

I have no memory of why I stopped reading Book 2. My current theory is that I literally put the book down one day and just never picked it back up. Not out of disinterest or malice or anything of the sort, but I was in school and homework and socializing and the ill-advised relationship I had found myself in at the time likely took over. Eventually I started to think that there must have been SOME reason why I stopped reading; maybe Book 2 was actually really bad and I had given up in disgust. The mind is funny in the connections it will convince itself of with literally no basis in fact. And so the books sat on my shelf for years and years, moving across the country to sit on a different shelf in a new state, slowly collecting dust until a few months ago when I said to myself “You know what? It's time to give that series another shot!”

And now here I am, finally on the other side of a series I started reading so long ago it might as well have been another lifetime. In terms of reading time, these books are easily dwarfed by other series I've read, but in terms of total elapsed calendar time, these 2 700-page novels are far and away THE longest I've spent getting from one side to another of a book series.

In a way, another tie to that part of my life is now severed.