The final book in the epic Gatekeeper trilogy which is set on the third season after Revelations and before Lovers’ Walk.

Publication year: 1999
Format: print
Page count: 321
Publisher: Pocket Books

The previous book, Ghost Roads, ended in a triple cliffhanger: Xander had been shot and is terribly wounded, and Willow and Cordelia are carrying him through the ghost roads in a desperate attempt to get him to the Gatehouse where the Gatekeeper has the cauldron of Bran the Blessed which might be able to heal Xander. Unfortunately, the dead souls on the ghost roads are insisting that Xander is already dead and should stay, and demons are attacking Willow and Cordelia.

Meanwhile in Sunnydale, the cult Sons of Entropy have kidnapped Joyce, Buffy’s mother, in the hopes of luring the Slayer into a trap. Giles and the gang have tried to find Joyce but haven’t succeeded. Buffy, Oz, Angel, and Michaela return unexpectedly to Sunnydale from their European trip. Unsurprisingly, Buffy demands that they find her mother before she deals with the upcoming apocalypse. The Gatehouse is still in grave danger and the Gatekeeper is having trouble keeping the monsters from coming to Earth. Also, the barriers between the Otherworld, where some of the dead souls linger before going to their next stop, and Hell are weakening, and demons are going to the ghost roads and further to Earth.

Ethan Rayne is back! He doesn’t want the Earth to be wiped out and he’s trying to help Giles and Buffy who are, understandably, very suspicious. Ethan loves chaos and knows some of the Sons of Entropy so he’s not a very reliable ally. The witch Amy Madison also makes an appearance. Faith still doesn’t.

We also get short passages from the POV of Il Maestro, the main bad guy. He’s a repulsive character who enjoys torture and killing. We get to see his childhood and training into a mighty sorcerer under the tutelage of a merciless teacher. While none of it excuses his horrible actions, the background makes him more understandable.

This is a good ending to the series, although some of it is pretty predictable. Still, there are a couple of plot twists I didn’t see coming. We get to see more of Joyce, and her determination not to give into her fear and her dedication to Buffy. Again, the book has more horror in it than in a usual Buffy episode with people being sacrificed and killed. Angel in particular kills a lot of people in this series.

Of course, the high body count highlights how weird it is that anyone still lives in Sunnydale and how the ordinary people can explain away the most weirdest things.

The Gatekeeper actually felt a bit cheesy. The concept is nothing new: one bloodline is tied to the magical Gatehouse where monsters are imprisoned for eternity. When the current Gatekeeper dies, his heir has to take up the duty which means basically never having any other kind of life. The Gatekeepers live over a hundred years so it would have been possible for them to marry and start having kids early and perhaps have a pool of heirs to choose from. But no. The Gatekeepers marry late in life and have just one boy. The current Gatekeeper was 21 when his father died, at around 130 years old. The current Gatekeeper’s son is 11 which is awfully young to be facing such a responsibility. However, it was brought up in the books that it’s possible that the single heir late in life is some kind of curse on the family. Still the current Gatekeeper and his son are sympathetic characters and so is the current Gatekeeper’s mother whose ghost is tied to the house.