I’m going to talk about the ending of WARRIOR WITCH in a bit of detail, so if you haven’t read the novel and don’t like spoilers, don’t continue reading. I’m even sticking a giant image of the cover below so that you don’t accidentally see anything you don’t want to.
The ending of WARRIOR WITCH was firmly fixed in my mind for about three years before I wrote the novel. I described the ending in detail in the synopsis provided to my publisher when the trilogy sold in 2013. I felt extremely passionately about how this series needed to end, and I still do. My biggest hope for the ending was that it would make readers FEEL. I wanted big emotions, though I knew my choices would have a polarizing reaction amongst readers. And call me crazy, but I’d rather have that than everyone closing the book and never giving it another thought.
In STOLEN SONGBIRD during the scene on the lake, the following conversation occurs:
He took my hands in his. “We are too powerful for this world – it is better that we remain caged.”
“Too powerful for this world because you don’t belong here,” I said, pulling out of his grasp. “Maybe you should go back where you belong.”
Tristan grew very still. “We can’t. Otherwise I would send them all back in an instant.”
Sending ALL the trolls back to Arcadia was the only real solution to the dilemma of how to have peace between the races. All the other solutions were flawed*. So it was what I worked towards, including developing a way to bring Cécile through to the fey realm once her mortal life was over.
Could I have made an exception for Tristan, like having the Winter King allow him to stay under the same restrictions as the half-bloods? Of course, but that would’ve felt contrived and trite to me.
And also undeserved.
Why, given that Tristan and Cécile (Yes, both of them. Anyone who believes that Tristan didn’t want the trolls freed at the end of HIDDEN HUNTRESS needs to drive that thought from their minds) made a decision that cost hundreds, if not thousands, of people their lives, families, and homes, did they deserve a happy ending without cost? I don’t write with an agenda in mind, but I do have strong feelings that if characters make choices that harm others that they need to pay for them in some fashion.
Tristan and Cécile did not need to kill Anushka. They could’ve followed through with Aiden’s plan and released Cécile from her promise to the King, and then done everything in their power to protect Anushka from those who knew her identity. While Anushka’s curse would’ve only lasted the rest of her mortal life, they certainly could’ve used that time to come up with another solution to keep the trolls contained. Instead, they chose to break the curse. Tristan, because he realized his people’s plight would grow dramatically worse if he didn’t, and Cécile, because she believed that everyone living in Trollus should not have to suffer for the sins of a few. Both of them knew that people would die as a result, but still, they made that choice. Together. And the Isle burned for it.
Which meant they had to pay up.
The loss of their mortal life together was the price I made them pay, because it reflected what all those innocent people who died as a result of their actions gave up. Those victims lost their chance for love and friendship. They lost their chance to see the world, and to watch their children grow. They lost their happily ever after.
So do I think WARRIOR WITCH has a happily ever after? Yes, after spending their mortal life apart, I reunited Cécile and Tristan using the bond that was so integral to the plot of all three novels. I left them together with a future free of the limitations and barriers that had afflicted them throughout their time together. But just because it’s a happily ever after doesn’t mean it’s the happily ever after that readers expected or, in some cases, wanted. But I believe in my heart, having been so close to these fictional people for many years, that it was fitting.
It has been an enormous privilege to have so many readers connect with Tristan and Cécile over the years, and I hope you enjoyed their story right up to the bittersweet end.
I’m leaving the comments open for anyone who has questions or comments.
May 24: I’m going to be writing a series of posts discussing several of the other characters over the next few weeks, so stay tuned.