The author has nicely brought together the disparate elements of the
previous two books, and created an intense story with all the
characters, which feels coherent. I like the way she took risks with the
characters, putting them into all sorts of trouble, and realistically
getting them out of it, but with much difficulty. I also liked the way
the separated characters had no knowledge of what was going on
elsewhere, while the readers do, so we can see them going in the wrong
directions. Finally, it’s an interesting and neat choice for many
chapters to back to overlap with previous chapters, but from a different
point of view, so in some ways we knew what was going on even as the new
point of view was just discovering it.
The first book in this series introduced us to Tandor, and it seemed
like he was the good guy, trying to overthrow the evil Eagle Knights.
Carro and Isandor seemed to corroborate that idea, as the Eagle Knights
treated them poorly, and the Chief Rider wanted to father the teen
queen’s children, to put himself and his kids on the throne. Then Tandor
triggered the icefire explosion, and the world was put into turmoil.
The second book introduced us to the apparently more modern and
civilized Chevakia, where Sadi took over the government to try and deal
with the financial, icefire (called sonorics there) and refugee crisis.
Tandor lost control of his servitor, and Isandor and Jevaithi had a lot
of sex before being discovered by Milius and brought to the capital
This book focuses a lot more on the better defined
characters and situations of the second book. Tandor is almost
completely absent, and he is powerless. It’s not clear if Isandor and
Jevaithi will be married or if their intense relationship produced any
children. The family tree is confusing, and took a while for me to
reconcile. The big reveal is that Isandor and Jevaithi are twins, though
they may continue in a physical relationship like in Game of Thrones. At
the end, she was raped by Cornitan, though, so how can she be sure any
children from that period are Isandor’s? There’s the complicated royal
family, where Tandor switched the queen at birth, but were they both
from Maraith? How did Tandor father them? And how did/when Isandor get
his foster mother pregnant? It’s possible these details were provided in
the previous novels, but I don’t remember them.
The story has two
main fronts, one in Sady’s house, and the other in the refugee camp,
with a bunch of side plots to continue what was started in the previous
books in the series.
Sady is the only one who tries to do
anything, but his lack of experience and lack of real power mean that
he’s really just an observer through most of the book. Lorianne’s baby
is born, a half-breed between the warring sides, which can change shape
into a dacon, a hugely powerful flying beast that can absorb icefire. It
kills four people, and Tandor is found nearby with a knife and blood, so
he’s arrested and not released until the very end, when it turns out
he’s also impotent to control the beast.
Sady runs around from
the prison to the government and to his house, where he discovers that
the southerners are not as bad as they’d always been led to believe. He
and Lorianne fall in love, the conclusion to his poor and regret-filled
relationships with two other women in his life. The entire time, he
tries to get things done, but others walk all over him. He can’t
understand the sonorics readings, doesn’t believe in icefire, though he
comes to a grudging respect for it when faced with irrevocable proof
from his houseguests. This part of the book is about the relationships,
and the characters are nicely drawn out for this.
In the camp,
Isandor and Jevaithi are also rather impotent. They are discovered by
their people, and are manipulated by the Brotherhood of Light, which
wants to restore the old kingdom. This is where Isandor discovers that
Jevaithi is his sister. But he stands up to fight. He doesn’t have much
effect on the story, but it’s about who he is as a character, which is a
good person, hating the feud and the wars. That becomes important as he
takes control of the dacon and sucks the icefire out of the storm.
Tandor, for his part, realizes that Isandor is right, and sacrifices
himself to his servitor so the other icefire demons can be killed.
Meanwhile, Sady finally makes some decisions, and the chief of the
military begins to have some respect for him, as the descend into the
camp in balloons, fighting the Eagle Knights all the way.
who was Isandor’s friend in the first book until he betrayed him for the
love of an absentee father, undergoes the largest transformation. He’s
always been a wimp, but was an Eagle Knight. He can’t stand up to the
other men who want to have sex with him, he hates himself because of it
and what he does. He wants to serve the queen, not rape her and allow
her to be killed. He hates his father, but wants to be loved and
accepted by him. The whole book leads to his decision to kill his
father, the chief rider Cornitan, who is the architect of all the evil
in the two lands. The last straw is his father’s rape of the queen. He’s
not strong or skilled enough to kill his father, until a distraction
offers him the chance, and he slits the man’s throat. It was a
shockingly short sequence, and one of the most satisfying because of
A new age is ushered in now, with peace between the two
lands, corruption due to Tandor’s mother removed from the government of
Chevakia, Sady in charge there, with Isandor (and probably Jevaithi?) as
king and queen in the south, all good people. The icefire explosion has
dissipated, and nobody thinks servitors are good ideas. It’s not clear
how much icefire remains in the world, but I suppose that’s a subject
for a future trilogy, as there are all sorts of unanswered questions.
I liked the way the author concentrated on the best-developed
characters and refined the plot to the best aspects of this series. It
raised the end of the trilogy to a higher level than the previous books,
but it still had to carry the confusing baggage. At least the most
annoying characters from those books had a chance to grow, or were
pushed to the sidelines.