Amnesty

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 16 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

I read this book courtesy of NetGalley, in exchange for a review. 

I didn't think this would happen, but at its (presumed) end, the world of Amberlough has grown on me, at long last. The third volume was the first that I really emotionally connected with.

First things first: I didn't even read the cover copy before embarking on my reading here, and I think that served me well. This novel starts several (?) years after the previous volume ended, and the world it is set in is quite different; but the story it tells this time is only marginally interested in the politics (though it very much needs them to motivate the plot) or spying and action: instead, it is an intimate story of broken people and their desperate attempts at putting themselves together. I very much admire series that switch gears mid-way, and tell a different type of story, and I think it was a good choice for Donnelly - spying pyrotechnics and intrigue were the least convincing and successful part of her writing, to me, and interpersonal interactions and personal reflection is much more where it shines. This is a novel whose plot is just a pretense for intense insight into the characters' traumas and the world they no longer understand or fit; thus, it will surely appeal to some and miss other readers. Count me mostly appealed to.

My only misgivings concern whether the narrative does enough to persuade me that the characters deserve my investment in their success - I am not quite sure it succeeds there. I feel like there are thematic aspects of this story that never find resolution - the story goes in a direction and then stops short of what would seem a logical conclusion. Still, even that has certain value - while a part of me truly wants a different ending for characters, to satisfy my desire for justice and the "right" ending, I am even more interested in engaging with the values this ending presents, discussing it with other readers, hearing their thoughts. 

It was my favourite part of the trilogy, and I never would have expected that from the description. I found its mood and grittiness mesmerising. I can't wait to see what other readers think.
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I read this book then I had to go back and read the other in this series.
I think it's a great series and this is the perfect end for a great series.
I loved the characters, so well written and fleshed out, was fascinated by the plot, and found the world building amazing.
I look forward to reading other books by this author.
Recommended!
Many thanks to Macmillan-Tor/Forge and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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The war is finally over in Amnesty, by Lara Elena Donnelly, but peace has not yet arrived for the cast of characters. They’ve been on a long road for a decade, some literally and some figuratively. In this final entry in the Amberlough Dossier, we see Lillian DePaul, Aristide Makricosta, and Cyril DePaul on the last mile of that road. They’ve been through a hell of a lot and my heart was in my throat the whole time as I waited to see what hurdles Donnelly would put in their way.

Lillian has been home in Amberlough for some time, trying to rebuild a life as a press agent in the government of the new Prime Minister, whoever that turns out to be. It’s a challenge because of her past working for the One State Party (Ospies), who coerced her to work for them, and also because of her name. Cyril, her brother, torched the family’s good name when he turned double agent during the events of Amberlough. His actions led to the fall of independent Amberlough and the rise of the Ospies. When it turns out that Cyril didn’t die after those actions has made her life all the more complicated. Of course, however complicated Lillian’s life is, it’s no comparison to how complicated life is for Aristide. Cyril was Aristide’s lover and it was his love for the former burlesque star and smuggler that made Cyril betray his country.

The characters in the Amberlough Dossier have a very bad habit of working at cross purposes and not talking to each other. Lillian, Aristide, and Cyril have a long history of having to work on their own while very much in the shadows. This bad habit goes all the way back to the first volume in the trilogy, to catastrophic effect. The characters have learned a lot, but they still haven’t learned this lesson. While Lillian wheels and deals (and deals with a stroppy teenaged son), Cyril’s life is once more in danger from people who blame him for the war and the still unrepaired damage it caused. Aristide and Lillian do their best to try and save him one more time, but Cyril seems willing to go to the gallows for his treason. Lillian calls in a lawyer to work with the system. Aristide…very much does not…and there are more than one passage where it looks like their actions could cause everything to go to hell again.

Amnesty contains political machinations, criminal enterprises, and an imperial ton of emotional baggage—some of it utterly heartbreaking as Cyril and Aristide wrestle with their feelings for each other. While all of this torments our trio of protagonists, it makes for highly entertaining and thrilling reading. This book was a brilliant finale for a highly original trilogy. I am more than satisfied.
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Oh, this series!  Breaking my heart one book at a time!  Such beautiful writing about a broken world and the relationships that will us to survive.  I’m not ready to say goodbye, time to read them again!
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Great ending to a great book series. The ending can be considered a happy ending as the characters are content with their lives and not going to be killed. They have to deal with the decisions they made during hard times. Now I just want to watch a show based on this series.
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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC. 

This book does take place 8 years after book one. I believe also that this is the finale book in this series and such a great conclusion. 

The world building of this series has been amazing. It highly suggest picking up this series. The writing is great and the plot was very easy to follow. 

I don't want to go much into details about this book since it is book 3. I never read the synopsis when there are series because I don't even like to spoil myself. All I can say is, it is worth the read.
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It is always heartbreaking when a favourite series comes to an end and the Amberlough Dossier has been one series that I have loved since I read the first page of Amberlough. I fell hard for Aristide and Cyril and I know these characters will stay with me long after I have finished the last page of Amnesty. 

We open 8 years after the end of Amberlough and five years after Armistice. The war is over and won and Arisitde gets a call that Cyril is broken, battered and bruised but alive and waiting for him at a safe house. What follows is a story of guilt, heartbreak all brilliantly portrayed in Donnelly's perfect heart-wrenching hand. I actually enjoyed Lillian's input into this novel more that I did her voice in Armistice. I believe it was because Cyril was the turning point in this book, and the way he reflects his own image onto his nephew Stephan, Lilian's Son. Thus for me Lilian became a lot more sympathetic and a strong character who understood her flaws and worked to correct them.

Aristide's perspective as always broke me. His stubborn nature and his true devotion to Cyril made me speed read this novel to see the outcome. This book had me up till 2am biting my finger nails and begging these characters to just be happy ! As Always Donnelly does a terrific job of making us extremely annoyed and absolutely besotted by her characters. 

The last few chapters tie all loose ends and is the ending I was always hoping for. Having read these novels sporadically during release, I would love to sit down and re-read them one after the other. I really want to re-delve into this world as I feel I will always want more from the Amberlough Dossier. 

It was a beautiful end to a truly wonderful series. I am unlikely to find a talent like Donnelly's for a while.
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Reading this makes me wish I had my hair up, lipstick on, and double martini in hand while classy music plays in the background. I am sitting on a leather sofa in the library with rain pattering on the bay windows which look onto the lush green grounds. I have a trust fund to support me for the rest of my days thanks to old money, just like a DePaul, but without the family trauma and loss of income due to political strife! Ta-da, could life get any better? 

	I know I’ve said this before, but I’ll continue to say it until this series gets the attention it deserves! I can’t believe this isn’t more popular. People need to read these books! Political intrigue that’s well-rounded and reflects what’s happening today? LGBTQA representation?Spies? Drinks? Beautiful clothes? Realistic portrayal of PTSD? Atmosphere? Humour? It has it all!

	Amnesty is just as politically intriguing, and rich in atmosphere and setting as Amberlough, with a completely different flavour from both that first book, and Armistice. Whereas Amberlough is glitzy with the feel of vintage burlesque theatres and a dark taste of the underworld, and Armistice is warm and fast paced with its focus on character interactions and an old Hollywood atmosphere, Amnesty is darker and colder. I am a fan of these different tones, as they match the feel of the rise and fall of an age. In the beginning: whispers and panic, the middle: money money money in some pockets with chaos on the rise, and finally the end: sit-down dinners, contracts and steel conclusions (with a few explosions thrown in the mix). This series is kind of the Adult version of if The Hunger Games, Six of Crows, and The Great Gatsby had a child, and that child became entangled in espionage.  

	The anticipation of finally seeing Cyril again and witnessing Aristide’s reaction had me drawing the first few pages out as long as I could while simultaneously being unable to help myself from skipping over lines in excitement. Of course I wish we got the old Cyril back, slicked hair, uptown attitude and all, but that just doesn’t suit the past 8 years of his life. The portrayal of Cyril’s trauma felt very realistic, especially considering how shaken he was just by the end of Amberlough. Now after 8 years under constant threat, he is completely undone, and not in a sexy “oooooh he’s so dark and deep now!”, but in an “oh shit, he needs leagues of therapists and possibly a brain wipe”, kind of way. This is a refreshing change from what feels like the more typical use of trauma in fictional romantic relationships, where such backgrounds are often used as a foundation for gratuitous angst, and brushed aside once the kissing starts. This is not the case here; Cyril’s return is more illustrative of a soldier who after years in a war zone now has to adapt to a civilian lifestyle. Aristide on the other hand, is only doing a little bit better. The way his reaction to Cyril is handled, where Cyril sees one version while we get the other, got me right in my drama loving heart and felt so true to how people faced with such unexpected events flail around. Obviously by the end I wanted more, but everything was wrapped up so neatly, in a fashion that matched with the pacing and plot, that it wasn’t necessary.  

	As for the rest of the characters, a few leading members are missing, but this didn’t feel off. Amnesty is a slim volume considering the amount of info it handles, and as such, it has a fast pace with little room for taking a break and basking in everyone’s glow. Lillian, Jinadh, Stephen, and Cordelia, to name a few, are handled with grace. We have just as much as we need, everyone is three-dimensional, so there are no questions asked...but, if Donelly were ever to suddenly pull a Tolkien and rewrite these books with bundles of new info concerning every character, event, setting etc I would buy, buy, buy. Take my money. Of course, it took Tolkien roughly 30 years to get Lord of the Rings to the point it is today (this is just what I’ve been told, please don’t come after me die-hard fans), so I hope it wouldn’t take that long, but maybe if we got updates every 5 years that would be cool? Maybe?  

	Also, I loved the interactions between sassy uncle Cyril, Jinadh, and Stephen. I mean, poor Jinadh, the man did NOT sign up for this, but here he is harbouring an ex-spy(not sure what to call Cyril, so I’m going with this for now), who thinks it’s okay to pilfer his collection of cardigans and dismiss him at dinner, and an angsty teenage son who becomes bff’s with said uncle. What is a handsome journalist who doesn’t get paid enough supposed to do in this situation?     

	As with the previous books, there’s a significant time skip at the beginning, with events controlling the plot having occurred in the past. Usually, this might feel off, but as with the characters, we’re given enough info that everything flows smoothly. 

	Basically, if you haven’t read The Amberlough Dossier yet, you gotta get on it (please).
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Amnesty looked promising but, unfortunately, the story didn't intrest me like I thought it would. I skimmed through this one. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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It’s always a bit sad when a series you love comes to an end. It’s hard to say goodbye to the characters you’ve formed a bond with, and a good ending will leave you nostalgic for the world as a whole.

And in my opinion, Amnesty is a good ending to the Amberlough Dossiers.

Lara Elena Donnelly has a marvelous ability to use the absence of something (or someone) to a greater effect than the presence of that same thing. We saw this in Armistice, when the absence of a certain main character from book 1 drove the story, and it’s the same sort of idea here.

There’s a significant time-skip between Armistice and Amnesty, and in that time everything that could have been considered the “overarching plot” in book 1 has now been settled. As it says in the blurb, “The revolution has come and gone, with Amberlough City striving to rebuild itself from the ashes.” And along with the revolution, another main character from the first two books is gone now, too.

Lara Elena Donnelly uses these absences — the absence of the revolution, the absence of an enemy, the absence of a friend — to explore how her characters would cope and change in the aftermath. Amberlough City is ready to move on from it’s troubles, but our characters are still living them. When the public want to use Cyril as a scapegoat for his crimes against the city in the past… well, it’s hard to blame them. But Cyril does still have people who care for him, even now, and those people are willing to fight for him.

Skipping over the revolution may be somewhat of an unorthodox decision, but while I would have loved to see these characters band together and stick it to the fascists, this fits the tone of the series so much more. These books were never about the war, they were about the characters.

And in that regard, Amnesty is much more like Armistice than Amberlough. The story is more conversational, relying more on the awkwardness of relationships and the weight of the past than on any explosions or gunshots.

It’s a bittersweet ending, but in retrospect that’s the only it could have ended.

Depending on what kind of reader you are, some of the decisions taken in this book might not be to your tastes. If you were expecting a big and explosive finale, this isn’t that. It’s smaller, more personal.

I’m glad to have read this series, and I can’t wait to see what Lara Elena Donnelly writes next.
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If you haven’t read Amberlough and Armistice, you should. You really should. In fact, why don’t you do that. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Did you read them? Aren’t they fantastic? OK. So, on to the grand finale: Amnesty!

Just as Armistice begins with a three-year time jump after the events of Amberlough, Amnesty does the same, only this time, it’s five years after the events of Armistice, eight years after everything that went down during Amberlough. I’m not always a fan of time jumps - more often than not they make me angry, because I want to know absolutely everything that happens all the time always. Only, in the case of Amnesty, as with Armistice, I got over it pretty quick. Donnelly knows how to smooth over a time jump, filling us in with the events that happened in-between, and it does make sense that, for the most part, most major events of interest don’t always take place in perfect, chronological order. Anyway, we’re at five years after Armistice - Aristide and Daoud failed in their efforts to find Cyril in the Lisoan jungle, and they ended up setting up their own half-legit import/export business instead. Things are going pretty well - then Aristide gets a phone call from Prince Asiyah. They’ve found Cyril. Gasp!!

Meanwhile, in Amberlough, the Ospies have fallen. The revolution is over. If you were hoping for a whole book dedicated to guerilla warfare between Spotlight and the Ospies, well…sorry, you’ll be disappointed. Instead, we skip immediately to the interim government, trying to rebuild Amberlough from scratch. Lillian DePaul, with her husband Jinadh Addas and their son Stephen, now 13, have relocated back to the DePaul family home in Amberlough. The houses (a country estate and a town house) didn’t fare too well during Ospie rule, nor did the DePaul family’s assets. Plus, there’s also Cyril’s reputation is traitor to the nation to deal with. So Lillian, practically broke, has to contend with two crumbling houses that she can’t afford to staff properly, a husband who is not 100% happy with life in Amberlough, and a 13-year-old boy who acts like, well, a 13-year-old boy. Namely: moody, pissy and generally insufferable.

Then she gets a call out of nowhere from her old kind-of-sort-of-friend, Aristide Makricosta, with the news that her brother Cyril is still alive, and heading back to come stay with her. Yay?

Poor Cyril. Things were not great for him during the 8 years between the end of Amberlough and the start of Amnesty. He’d spent most of that time running dangerous ops for the Lisoan government in the jungle, with little regard for his own life. So when he finally emerges back to civilization he’s…well, different. There’s definitely a strong combination of PTSD and extreme guilt there. Plus a bit of survivalist kleptomania (hey, if you don’t know when you’re going to eat next, you’d squirrel away bits of food, too). Cyril is basically a man with a death wish, not giving a fuck about much of anything, preferring instead to retreat behind the mask of his work identities. Now he’s back - reunited with his old lover, Aristide, and his sister, Lillian. Plus, he gets to finally meet his nephew, Stephen.

But Cyril’s return to Amberlough isn’t exactly the best idea: once word gets out that he’s back, one of the politicians running for president of the new Amberlough decides to use Cyril as a political platform, namely that he should be arrested and put to death for treason. Cyril is like “sure, OK,” to that, but Lillian and Aristide? Yeah, they definitely don’t like that idea, and now they have to scramble to save not just Cyril, but themselves as well.

OK, so I fricking love this series. I tore through Amberlough and Armistice in just a couple of days, and I’m a slow reader, so that’s saying something. Amnesty is a completely satisfying end to the series, though I will still want more details about Cyril’s SuperHappyFun Jungle Adventures, or Aristide’s adventures in Porachis Bollywood or Coredlia’s rise as the leader of the resistance. Having those time gaps between books means we get to imagine all the adventures that happened in between. Which means: fanfiction! Woo! Or possible future short stories of novellas. (Cough cough hint hint Ms. Donnelly). If you’re not fond of big time gaps, then you might find this series frustrating, but still, Amnesty is an absolutely satisfying conclusion to the series.

In all, you need to read this series. If you want a fantastic LGBTQ romance, a story that spans nearly a decade, old-timey Le Carre-level spycraft, political infighting, scheming, and a 1930s-esque world, then you need to read the entire Amberlough Dossier. Go on. You know you want to.
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A great ending to a fabulous series - glittering, glamorous and chock full of interesting, flawed *real* characters that you can really fall in love with. A fully realised world, fascinating, exciting plot and great writing. Highly recommend.
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Thank you to netgalley and Tor for the e-arc!

What a series! It's been quite some time that I've binged a series with such enthusiasm. The way this series is told has beats unlike other novels I've read, and it kept this series feeling fresh with each new book.


Characters:

The characters, and their relationships, are what I loved the most about this novel.

I was so glad Cyril was back! He was my favourite character in the first novel, and was my favourite again in this one, and his personal journey along with Aristide was so engrossing. 

I enjoyed reading about Aristide and Daoud's relationship, the strain and power imbalance that made them an interesting duo. I liked how the novel ended them, making their journey as characters satisfying. 

I loved the nephew-uncle relationship between Cyril and Stephen. All their scenes together managed to be fun,cute and kind of sad at the same time. Seeing Stephen connecting to an adult, and growing through someone else's faults felt real, the relationship genuine.

These characters are morally grey. Some of them have done outright despicable things, but that's why I loved them, that's why they were so interesting. I loved how dark it could be, yet you sympathized with them as well. We see them physically and mentally vulnerable. Through aging, or illness or experience. I loved how everyone in this book wasn't just young and gorgeous and flawless. That we had people of all ages who felt real, both beautiful and flawed in their own ways.


Plot:

I'll admit this is were the audiobook served me well for the other books. While I adore these characters, I don't care much for political plots, and it's easier to glaze over those details in an audiobook over physically reading. There was a section in the middle were the book focused a lot around an election and politics, and those scenes didn't interest me at all. I cared much more for the character orientated scenes, and how the plot would later effect them.

The plot was engaging at the beginning with all the characters colliding again after years apart, and it picked up at the end once more consequences came into play.


Overall:

This is a series I would highly recommend, and it's a shame it's not getting more attention. It feels so fresh, with distinct and fleshed out characters that have been written in a way I haven't seen before. This was a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy.
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