Rating: 5 out of 5
A grand conspiracy to unearth Arithon and capture him has been plotted. The nefarious players behind this are the Koriathan, again, and they make for excellent villains. Excellent in a way where one cannot but hate them for their meddling ways which cause so much death and destruction. Arithon takes the back seat for the majority of this book, really coming into his own only when the plot to ensnare him teaches fruition—as it’s intended. He hasn’t really changed much but the reader gets one of the finest possible scenes where he and Elaira converse, though this lasts only for a few moments.
The other characters… Well, Lysaer is doing his own nefarious plotting. In some ways, I think the option to really like him has disappeared for the leader. In the first books, Lysaer is half-maligned, but by now he causes all sorts of trouble himself and on purpose. Part of this is a cult of priests who can communicate with Lysaer over large distances—the classic trick of “we dislike all of kind X unless they are working for me”. I wish he was a bit less certain in his ways as that would give me the option to like him a bit more. As it is, he is a huge pompous ass. The moments where Arithon (or some other device) cause his temporary downfall are particularly enjoyable because of who Lysaer is. The same also applies to his priests and commanders, with the only exception in his court being the new Princess Consort who doesn’t really do very well.
On Arithon’s side, we don’t really get that many additional player whose actions we see on these pages. There is some (nice) trouble caused by the Duke of Alestron whose grandmother (or is it some other relative?) finally shows up after being talked about, and mocks everyone she talks to in some very decent scenes. The Rathain liegemen are, however, nearly wholly absent other than trying to warn their Crown Prince about the lurking danger. Should we count the sorcerers on Arithon’s side? I guess so, though they could be for or against anyone—this book goes quite a bit in describing the background to the compacts that the sorcerers have signed and this helps understand more about the background of the world.
Overall, this was what I appreciated most and continue to appreciate in Ms Wurts’ work. The world is so complex, yet it is not thrown at the reader but revealed in layers, bit by bit. As such, I have no doubts that there is more to discover in this world.