Horde (Book 3 in the Razorland trilogy)
By: Ann Aquirre
Published: October 29th 2013
Company: Feiwel and Friends
Here we are! I caved in and picked up Horde in November at my local bookstore. In the final book in this series, we see the war between the Humans and Freaks come to a conclusion.
The book picks up right after Outpost with Deuce, Tegan, Fade, and Stalker fleeing the colony Salvation in search of aid and additional forces. Actually it had been awhile since I read Outpost last that I was a bit confused with what was happening and had to quickly re-read the final chapter to refresh myself on the closing events.
We get to see how different human colonies took to the original outbreak, since for the colonies are self-governed and how the colony is set up seems to be based on what society the colony grew up from. Colonies that grew up out of a military background saw a more regimented rule while colonies that grew out of a religious background saw that religious background reflected in its rules and society. While Salvation chose to keep itself closed to outsider influences, most saw the benefit to being open to trade and communication from other colonies. We also got to see what happened when a colony suffered a dangerous blow by relying on untested science to solve their problems.
The story continues to carry on Fade’s PTSD from his kidnapping by the Freak colony, treating it with the respect and complexity it deserves. Deuce, at times, struggles with wanting to comfort Fade, but knowing it would only cause him more harm than good. Both talk about their feelings and how to navigate his PTSD comfortably. Fade never seems to completely recover and we see shades of how he was like when Deuce first saw him all those years ago. It is a good to see a novel treating a serious mental condition like PTSD with such honesty and seriousness, especially when the novel is targeted towards such a young audience. There is no magic “pill” to cure it and it does not disappear with any amount of ease.
I really want to express my love for Aquirre’s writing in the changes behind the Freaks and how that change affected the war. So if you REALLY haven’t read the book, I suggest you skip the blacked out paragraphs. If you really want to know what happens, highlight the text and it will pop up. But you have been warned.
Since the first book, we have seen small to major changes in the Freak’s behaviour and organization without so much a single reason for it. In this book, the changes not only explode (changes in clothes and the ability to talk), but we learn that there is a division in the Freaks themselves: one faction which wants to kill & turn humans into cattle, and another that wants to live in peace alongside the humans. This change is not random or without reason. Freak children are born with the knowledge and memories of their parents. One day, a human child found a young injured Freak and cared for it. The girl was not afraid of the creature and showed it the first sign of human kindness its race had ever known. It also sparked hope in that Freak that peace was possible with the humans. This spark of hope was passed through its lineage, creating a group of Freaks not wanting to fight with and kill the humans for no reason. We see this group reach out to Deuce and her group, negotiating a small truce with them: as long as their group does not enter and stays away from Deuce’s guarded territory, Deuce must hold off on killing them. Or at the least, she cannot go out and ruthlessly kill them for no reason. From her accepting of this small treaty, the leader Szarok latter seeks Deuce out to make a larger offer: for his people [called Uroch, meaning people in their tongue] to join with Deuce and the other humans in the battle against the other Freaks. Szarok says that they do not want to kill their people, many of which are their elders, but the others refuse to accept the idea of living in peace with humans, only wanting war. The Uroch see that war will only lead to death on both sides, and wish for the fighting to stop. Even if it means they have to kill their own people. It shows the nastiness of war: that sometimes it comes down to families fighting each other, families KILLING each other.
I enjoyed the reveal behind the change of Szarok and the Urochs. Deuce even manages to track down the little girl to thank her for tending to that child Freak, for without that moment of kindness, they would not have been able to stop the war and would be cursed to live in fear and death until nothing was left. Deuce may have gathered the forces, led them into battle, killed countless of Freaks in the process, but it was due to the choice and actions of one little girl: One little girl [Millie] who took care of an injured creature and nursed it back to health. It shows that sometimes the action of an individual can affect the lives of thousands of others, and that action does not have to be a large one or one that is known by others. Deuce only discovered it because the memory of the event had been passed down from that original Freak and Szarok shared it with Deuce. Millie’s own parents were not aware of what happened until Deuce revealed it to everyone. Milie’s small actions changed the course of history and the war for everyone, a change that resulted in the end of the war and peace for the people of this new world.
Another part of the story I must applaud Aquirre for is the sexual development in Fade & Deuce’s relationship. Yeah remember how I was talking about how well the story handles PTSD? Yup was not lying about that part, but given that both characters were slowly wanting more before Fade’s capture in Outpost, those urgings only went away temporarily. Deuce was respectful of Fade’s uncomfortableness with touch and slowly reintroduced it to their relationship at Fade’s pace, causing both to again want more from each other. At Fade’s insistence, the eventual act took place in a bed where they could have the privacy both deserved so they could enjoy it and take their time. As for the sex itself, it is not horribly descriptive or flowery and certainly did not stir my loins (TMI??) however, this lack of description can be attributed to the fact that Deuce herself does not have the language to describe it, even to herself. She was never taught the language of love or how to engage in sex. Sex, for most of her life, was seen only as a means of reproduction, a task assigned to Breeders only and only at the discretion of the Council. Deuce has no reason to know these words or sensations. After their first vague sexual encounter, they do have sex multiple times after this but these times are briefly talked about, possibly escaping Aquirre’s own unfamiliarity in writing about the act or her uncomfortableness with it. This shows Fade and Deuce both as respectful sexual human beings, regardless of their ages.
I really enjoyed reading this series, and I found the final book to be satisfying. There are a few things that are left unanswered between some minor characters but it means Aquirre can write us more novellas exploring these paths for us. For the major events, the storylines are wrapped up and dealt with by the final chapters of the book. We even see the return of some characters that we have not seen from Enclave, much to the happiness of Deuce.
What did you think of the series? The final book? Leave your thoughts down below in the comments. I would love to hear them.