In this conclusion of a fantasy trilogy, treachery and thoughts of retribution may spawn a devastating war between kingdoms.
Eolyn, high maga and queen of Moisehén, is content in Moehn with her princess daughter, Briana, and maga (female) students. But the king’s mages, at the order of Eolyn’s husband, Akmael the mage king, demand all magas return to the City, their arms taken and their magic bound. Eolyn retains her own magic, but she, along with every maga, is held prisoner in the City. This is the king’s response to Eolyn’s student Maga Ghemena and two other maga warriors committing treason by freeing captive (and princess) Eliasara. Eliasara’s the daughter of Akmael and his previous wife/queen, Taesara, a princess of Roenfyn who’s been in a decadelong exile. Once mother and daughter are reunited, Ghemena promises a chance at vengeance against Akmael—aligning with other kingdoms and placing Eliasara rightfully on Moisehén’s throne. With the king distrustful of magas and her student’s reputed betrayal, Eolyn, relegated to the East Tower, searches for allies or perhaps just a friend (for example, Mage Corey of East Selen). War, meanwhile, is imminent, and a wizard’s curse incites chaos within Moisehén. Gastreich (Sword of Shadows, 2016, etc.) thankfully ends her series with the strongest entry. Characters, for one, are superbly fleshed out; there’s sympathy on both sides, as even Taesara, a wronged woman whose thirst for revenge is understandable, contemplates opting for peace in lieu of a confrontation. Nearly the entire plot is a tense buildup to an inevitable battle, but along the way are turncoats, surprising deaths, and a few bloody fights (at their best when Eolyn wields her sword, Kel’Barú). And as in the preceding books, the author writes in a refined, assertive style: “The silver-white blade flashed like lightning against a starless night, painting ribbons of black over jade-colored flesh, eliciting howls of rage and pain.” The climax may not be what some readers anticipate, but it’s impactful and wholly satisfactory.
An enticing and elegant series finale filled with magic and turmoil.