After an absence of nearly eight years, the seventh book of The Symphony of Ages series (The Assassin King, 2006, etc.).
Former merchant Talquist, Emperor of Sorbold, possesses a huge warrior-statue animated by one and possibly two F’dor demons that he believes are under his control. A smug, lightweight bad hat convinced he’s smarter than everybody else, Talquist has two ambitions: exterminate the Cymrians and their allies; and gain immortality. To accomplish the former, he must outwit and defeat husband-and-wife team Ashe and Rhapsody; and according to an ancient prophecy, he may achieve the latter by eating the living heart of the Child of Time. While the Child’s location remains unknown, his identity is clear: Meridion, the infant son of Ashe and Rhapsody. Ashe fears that the dragon within him is slowly taking command, so it’s probably just as well when Rhapsody announces she must find a secure place to conceal Meridion, whom she knows Talquist seeks. The ancient Lord Marshal Anborn, an ally of Rhapsody, miraculously recovers from his crippling battle wounds and prepares to lead the Cymerian armies. In numerous encounters with dragons, it emerges that they’re mostly ill-tempered and occasionally outright antagonistic; why this should be remains obscure. Events that occurred in previous installments interweave with personal disclosures and confessions, while the remainder builds toward an existential battle—maybe. Bombastic characters jostle with others provided for comic relief, and only in nursing mother Rhapsody can a vital personality of real strength and courage be distinguished. Still, fans blessed with an excellent memory and seven years’ worth of patience will at least want to investigate.
A belated continuation that only in the last few chapters manages to strip off the rust.