Publishing Date: January 2012
Publisher Description: The New Empire intends to celebrate its victory over the Nationalists with a day that will never be forgotten. On the high holiday of Wintertide, they plan to execute two traitors (Degan Gaunt and the Witch of Melengar) as well as force the Empress into a marriage of their own design. But they didn’t account for Royce and Hadrian finally locating the Heir of Novron—or the pair’s desire to wreak havoc on the New Empire’s carefully crafted scheme.
Review: This is the Grande finale’ of this series and I am saddened by it’s ending. No matter how slow I read, the pages still zipped by.
I must admit that I was on the edge a few times with the character development of Arista. There has been a big shift in character focus as the novels progress away from Hadrian and Royce to whiney Arista. The author makes up for this in his latest prequel installments. There are some minor holes in the story-line development like how did Allie all of a sudden show up at the castle (she was captured by the Goblins) and her adopted fathers role in liberating her. There was a sense that the big picture was a bit rushed and compressed into the story ending.
I am also a bit confused as to the authors penchant for draping every woman in a dress. They sword fight, go on epic quests through ancient cities, travel through rain and snow storms, and slop around in mud in long dresses. The ability to repel down a hole in a long dress is stretching things a bit. Not buying what the author is trying to sell here. There was some lengthy filler, especially sections where Lady Amilia is involved. Again, not a fan of the cover art. It is consistent though.
Other than my nit picking, this was a fantastic finale’ with a culmination of events tied into a logical whole. Great quests reminiscent of Jules Verne with Goblins, Elves, magic and dragons thrown in. Character development is superb, down to the least relevant role. Nimbus was a great character and is suspect at the start for showing up in timely need. And who did Hadrian see in the frescoes at Persepliquis that was so familiar to him? The Epic fight of Champions is really well done, with the exception of being able to log-roll faster than a Warrior Elf can stab/run.
I liked the life teachings the author presents through the monk that addresses; recovery from loss, inner redemption and forgiveness, and staying in the moment where no fears can reside. The monk’s take on “where you are right now, is exactly where you need to be” is wonderful.
This review, like all the others, is my honest assessment. If you had read my other reviews you know that I can be scathing. Trust me on this one, it is a damn fine novel and a great series. I will re-read this series again in another 10 years, unless the author decides to continue. There is some great source material to continue this series in a world that is never settled.