The Sending by Isobelle Carmody

The Sending book cover
Rating 6.9/10
For all intents and purposes The Sending is an info dump.

The time has come at last for Elspeth Gordie to leave the Land on her quest to find and stop the computermachine Sentinel from unleashing the deadly Balance of Terror arsenal.  But before she can embark on her journey, she must find a lost key.  And although she has long prepared for this day, nothing is as she anticipated.

Elspeth's search will take her where she never thought to go, and bestow upon her stranger companions than any she ever imagined.  It will lead her far from her destination to those she believed lost forever.

And it will test her, as she has never been tested before . . .

Synopsis sourced from the publishers website (

I have been reading the Obernewtyn Chronicles since I was twelve years old. Obernewtyn was the one of the first fantasy books I ever read and lead me to embrace my love of all things fantasy. After a ten year break between books four and five, we were promised that The Sending would deliver the conclusion that some of us had been waiting for for nearly 25 years. But alas, upon opening the book the first thing you find is the cover art for book seven, The Red Queen. This was not a good start, and despite my love of the series, it didn't get much better from there.

The Obernewtyn Chronicles are set in a post apocalyptic world where the main character, Elspeth Gordie, has been charged with a quest to stop The Destroyer before he can activate the back-up cache of nuclear weapons and destroy the world all over again. Over the previous five books, we have been introduced to the various telepathic powers that have manifested themselves in a wide range of people, most of which having come together under the banner of "misfit" to fight for their right to live as equals in this post apocalyptic world. In the Sending we get to learn more about the world pre-apocalypse as Elspeth starts chasing down the nuclear weapons cache, we can start to make tenuous links between our world and The Land where the misfits live (South America perhaps?). Other than that, the world is quite well established and Carmody doesn't spend much time building it further.

The characters in this story are beautifully written as usual. Despite being told in 1st Person POV, Carmody manages to thoroughly explore each and every character, and by the end of the story you feel like you must know these characters personally. Elspeth has grown a lot since the first book in the series, and its fascinating to see how her decision making process has changed having learnt from her previous good and bad decisions. My only concern with Elspeth in this book is that after the position of strength she was left in at the end of the fifth book, she had a massive regression at the start of the sixth book, racked with guilt and doubt, isolating herself from her friends, and spending way too much time with her own thoughts. Sure she once again finished in a position of strength, but I cant help but feel that this book could have been almost 200 pages shorter if she had just gotten on with the job like I expected her to do, rather than wallowing in self pity. The sheer quantity of doubt and self loathing in her character for almost three quarters of the book made it a real chore to keep picking this book up and reading it.

The story was also very slow in this book, with very little plot progression actually happening over the course of 750 pages. It was only once I reached Part 3 with 150 pages to go that it really felt like this book had moved out of first gear. So what happened with the first 600 pages? I think that Carmody unintentionally wrote herself into a corner over the course of the previous five books by leaving so many plot threads open, and as a result the first 600 pages of this book were spent tying up all these threads. Given that book seven will see Elspeth leaving The Land never to return, all of these plots threads had to be resolved before the main plot could be progressed. A necessary evil. It wasn't all bad, and I was glad to see some of these loose threads finally resolved (ie. Elspeth and Rushton, Miky and Angina), but it slowed the story down to a crawl and often had me reaching for something else on my book shelf.

For all intents and purposes The Sending is an info dump, a book that you will only ever want to read once in preparation for taking on the final book of the series. It was slow, boring, and had very little plot progression, but Carmody's prose and characterisation still manages to shine through as a strength that will keep you going through the hard times. Hardcore fans of the series will love this book, but despite my love for the series I couldn't wait to finish this book so I could read something else. My recommendation - don't read this book until The Red Queen is released. You don't want to be put in a position where you have to read this book a second time.

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