“We were strong. No one crossed us for fear of consequence. We had horses. We had weapons. We had earned the right to cut others down.”
You don't need to have read THE KISS OF DECEPTION or THE HEART OF BETRAYAL (or even yesterday's release of series conclusion THE BEAUTY OF DARKNESS!) in order to read MORRIGHAN. The novella takes place long, long before the trilogy begins. In fact, Morrighan is a legendary character to the "modern day" who honors her memory. She is a Christopher Columbus of her time. And yet...her story is NOT the story that is passed down through generations.
In fact, before reading MORRIGHAN, I had absolutely no idea that the world of the Remnant Chronicles was built on the back of OUR society. The series is very fantasy, with kingdoms, and ruins, and dangerous beasts, and political maneuvering/border wars. But those towers, those ruins? They were OUR buildings. WE are the Ancients of legend, the "gods" who could "fly through the air" and had buildings that "rose to the sky." After reading MORRIGHAN, I assume that there was some sort of nuclear fallout because of how rare clear skies were and the fact that it is said a "cloud of death rolled across the land" (pg. 25, nook edition) and "pantry stockpiles that hadn't yet spoiled or been raided" (page 30, nook edition).. There's a passage that talks about how "The maps and gadgets and inventions of man could not help us survive or find food" (page 30, nook edition).
Maybe the world isn't EXACTLY ours and wasn't destroyed in SUCH a way, but those were the implications in what I read. Morrighan is young, and wasn't alive when the Ancients existed. Her Ama was herself very young when the world fell, and remembers through a child's eyes. She had little understanding of the world, and most of her knowledge is second-hand. She's passing that second-hand knowledge down, and it will continue to pass down the generations, kind of like Whisper Down the Lane. By the time The Remnant Chronicles Trilogy begins, none of the knowledge exists. When we as readers hear about the Ancients, and the ruins, we don't visualize our own world. THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING by Erika Johansen is also set in a fantasy world sprung from our own realm, but the knowledge isn't lost. What's funny is that some readers had issues with how "modern" that book blended with the more "historical" feel to the series that comes with most fantasy novels. Mary E. Pearson takes a different route, and blends the worlds so seamlessly, you don't even know anything else ever existed.
I really wish MORRIGHAN was a full-fledged novel. I'd love another novel continuing her story. I'd also love a story featuring the Great Fall to make sense over what was happening to cement the nation of the Remnants in my head. Maybe a tragic, star-crossed story with no happy ending? Maybe even one where young Ama makes an appearance, though she'd be much too little to be a big character in the tale at that point! Sometimes, I buy an e-book novella that is a series companion and I feel so let-down because the story is super short for the money and mostly just a sample for the next book they want you to buy. MORRIGHAN, however, is one of those precious few novellas that really has meat on its own. It has a full story. It makes you care about Morrighan and Jafir and the world they live in. It makes you want to know more about them. This novella is ABSOLUTELY worth the money and not to be missed!
If you read MORRIGHAN and then go back and re-read (or first time read!) The Remnant Chronicles, you'll find yourself looking for hints at the world of the Ancients and reading into the sacred texts scattered throughout the series to see how you missed something so obvious. (And it won't come to you, because this world is so far removed from ours that they don't even know these truths.) Then, you'll find yourself reading those same sacred texts and thinking, "But this isn't what Morrighan did. That person didn't do that. This doesn't make sense. This information is wrong." The world of the Remnants is built on lies and half-truths. Whisper Down the Lane has destroyed so much. Altering opinions on what happened to Morrighan from both Morrighan herself and her Ama, Gaudrel, differ, because they experienced a huge event very differently and don't have a way to match stories.
The level of world-building Pearson has used to craft The Remnant Chronicles is stunning, and this is such a favorite fantasy series of mine!!!