Sascha and Cashiel wanted to change the world, not set fire to it. But it seems they have done both. Cashiel’s attempt to dismantle the Miller System has sparked rioting and unrest across the country and left he and Sascha in a precarious position. Should Cashiel’s plan fail, he will be executed and Sascha sold, or worse. If they succeed, they have a chance to remake the Demoted system from the ground up.
But as outside forces conspire against them, Cashiel and Sascha struggle to maintain their relationship and the fragile trust they have developed. Without Cashiel, Sascha is adrift and lost. And without Sascha, Cashiel is only half the man he wants to be. They must fight their enemies together, or not at all.
Succession is the final book in the Demoted series by Alicia Cameron and it provides a fitting end for our heroes, while leaving the door open for possible future novels. The same technical issues that have plagued the series up until now continue, but by this point, I’ve gotten used to them and suspect most readers will as well. They are irritations and nothing more. The characters are the driving force behind the Demoted series and there are some big character shifts in Succession. While they generally added to the story in a positive way, there was one character that actually disappointed me for the first time.
I found myself becoming annoyed with Sascha. His stubborn determination, which has been so endearing in the previous books, became something of a liability in Succession. I’m not actually sure if this was the intention of the author or if I was simply reading about Sascha in a different light, but the result wasn’t particularly flattering. I found him to be rather petty and immature and his irresponsibility resulted in injuries to other people on several occasions. He does feel guilt about his actions of course, but he doesn’t necessarily change his ways and I actually found his character to be a little disappointing this time around.
In another first, I felt almost bad for Cashiel. I say almost, because at the end of the day, he is a slave owner. Sascha’s behavior and his own attempts to change the Demoted system place them in situations where impossible decisions must be made. And when Cashiel makes him, Sascha is quick to spurn and reject him. Cashiel spends most of Succession apologizing for actions that were often beyond his control. He does finally confess his love for Sascha and the fact he is willing to apologize at all shows how far his character has come since Subjection.
Syrus is an unexpected and altogether wonderful addition to the series. He initially protects Sascha during a brief incarceration, but is purchased by Cashiel to serve as bodyguard. His absolutely loyalty is magnificently portrayed and he becomes mediator to Sascha and Cashiel’s often volatile relationship. He is, in many ways, a good man for the sake of goodness and comes to Cashiel and Sascha without expectation and his absolute honesty and pragmatism is refreshing. The author has promised at least one short story about Syrus in the future, but I would love to see how his relationship with Cashiel and Sascha evolves.
Anyone looking for an end to slavery in this world will be sadly disappointed. Cashiel remains a staunch defender of the Demoted system and of slavery as a whole. It is natural to us that slavery is abhorrent, but perhaps it is also natural that there are no easy fixes, even in a piece of fiction. Cashiel and his belief in slavery remain one of the most complex puzzles of the Demoted series and a constant challenge to the reader.
Overall Succession provides an excellent conclusion to the Demoted series and I can’t help wishing the conclusion is a temporary one. While the master/slave genre isn’t for everyone, Alicia Cameron excels at creating empathetic characters and dystopian societies that possess a vibrant realism. As readers of the Demoted series, the questions we are forced to ask ourselves are rarely easy, but they are rewarding. I strongly recommend Succession and the entire Demoted series to anyone who enjoys wonderful characters and stories that challenge readers on multiple levels.