Part four of The Rifter takes on a different structure to the previous two parts. Instead of an equal focus between John and Kahlil, the book concentrates solely on John and his time in the monestary at Rathal'pesha. This part of the story follows John for about 18 months as he tries to devote his time to helping out in the infirmary by 'taking on' the injuries of the ushiri'im when they attempt to travel through gray space, and by aiding Hann'yu in the day to day tasks in the infirmary.
There are several plot threads which we follow during these 140 odd pages. The first thread is that of John's relationship with Ravishan. Their forbidden feelings for each other grow despite both of them knowing the consequences should they be caught. The moments they get with each other are snatched and furtive which lends a sadness to the romance, whilst also allowing the reader to see just how erotic a forbidden brush of fingers can be or a stolen hug. It is in this theme where we see all of John's frustrations over his time in Basawar as compared to his previous life on Earth, and this frustration spills into other aspects of this part too.
Another theme is that of John's powers and their slow discovery by those around him. Sometimes this is for good effect, such as when Ravishan discovers that John's 'gift' can aid him with gray space, but most of the time there is danger for John every time something new is discovered about him. This theme is intertwined with that of John's growing horror of the way that witches are treated in Basawar, especially in the North where religion has such a grip on the populace. This makes it even more imperative that John hide his powers in case he too is outed as a witch. The way that John has to tread carefully with everything he says and does meant that the atmosphere in this part was tense and sombre. There were several fraught filled moments, such as when John discovers he had a bad reaction to poison known to particularly affect witches, or the way that he can manipulate gray space, which brought me to the edge of my seat as I read on to see how this would be viewed by others.
One final theme which is explored in part four is John's growing animosity towards Ushman Dayyid, the man in charge of the ushiri'im. Dayyid is suspicious of John and treats him with a malicious intent at all times. Meanwhile, John's feelings for Dayyid are growing from a sullen annoyance to all out hatred. This animosity between them is growing in intensity to the extent that it will go one of two ways: Either Dayyid will push John too far and he will end up doing something he later regrets; or the pair will end up having to set aside their differences and work together during a crisis. I strongly suspect the former, but this author is nothing but surprising so we'll see!
I have to say that, apart from the first part of the series, this has to be my favourite part so far. There's a sense of impending doom slowly filtering through the narrative which sends a shiver down my spine and made me very frustrated when I got the end of the part because I wanted to read on and find out more! John's complexity as a character constantly develops and he is already a very changed man from the college student we meet in part one. The descriptions of the city combine bleakness at the povety and the irrational religious fervour of the residents with the opulence of the richer aristocracy and the more temperant views of the intellectual Hann'yu. This is not an easy read with some gruesome and macabre descriptions but I was hooked through the whole of part four and can't wait to read part five.
You can either buy this fourth part - and then any of the other parts - separately for $3.99 each, or buy the whole book at $29.95 and each month the new part will be sent to you via email. More information about this and the buy now page can be found HERE.