Once the background was revealed, much of Birthright has been about a desperate battle to keep an ancient evil from Earth, and that battle seemed to have been won in War of the Worlds. The other primary thread has been the entire saga concerning a family, and Mikey Rhodes’ battle seemed to have ended Lore’s threat, but closing the barriers between worlds left his parents trapped on Terrenos. It truly was a bittersweet ending.

An inter-dimensional war, however, doesn’t just come to a full stop, and Epilogue opens with some savage remnants of Lore’s forces on Earth and a schism between the Brennan brothers. Williamson plays a long game over these five chapters. He knows readers want the happy ending of a reunited family, but will he provide it? Each chapter starts with time having moved at least a month forward, and we known time passes at an accelerated rate on Terranos, in effect eating up lives of anyone who returns to Earth. Williamson dangles assorted possibilities over what’s otherwise exactly what an epilogue suggests. There’s some mopping up of loose ends, some dips back into the past explaining a little more about Mikey, and a little self-indulgence like a chapter of giant monsters rampaging over Tokyo.

Williamson was probably as excited as any reader anticipating how Andrei Bressan was going to draw that, and there’s certainly no disappointment on the agenda. The collaboration of colourist Andre Lucas is essential, the look designed for Brennan Rhodes in his magical incarnation adding some power to the detail supplied by Bressan. Elsewhere, even though we’ve read nine previous volumes and know what an amazing artist he is, Bressan still stuns.

Readers may have forgotten one important loose end, but thankfully Williamson hasn’t. Mikey is asked “Do you mourn the passing of the life you thought you’d have?” It’s part of a confrontation running very differently from what might have been predicted, and that has been a hallmark of Birthright from the very start. Williamson has one last heartstopper to roll out for the ending, something entirely appropriate to earlier discussions. Is this epilogue the ending readers want? In its entirety probably not, but on balance, it probably is. Birthright’s been a wonderful series, and it didn’t become that way because Williamson conforms to expectation.