Once again, Brian leads you down the path, and what you expect is about opposite of what happens. With the introduction of the Regent dragons in his last book, you would think he’d give you a chance to get to know them a bit better. Warning, this is not the case. He also plays a dirty trick (which I love seeing done) on the next generation.
He carries the suspense, action, and intrigue from the well developed series into this book with a flair I could only wish to one day be equal to. It is very obvious that he has come into his own, and is happily ratcheting up the heat on himself as this book unfolds.
The story itself is split between two different parties, but the transitions are smooth and there is not feeling of lost time when you shift back and forth. The only real nitpick I have with this one – I’ve grown accustomed to Caitrin who may not be the most accepting of her fate, but at least she seems to know that everything that goes wrong is not her fault. She is not an island, and others influence events as well. The new characters coming into the spotlight don’t have that point of view yet. In fact, they are properly written for the age they are – teens who haven’t had to face the cruel crucible of life and be tempered by it. There are times when I want to grab the new cast of characters (all of them, not just the emerging hero/heroine) and douse them in a bucket of ice on a sub-zero temperature day. But I seem to remember saying the same thing about Caitrin when the first books started testing her mettle too. So, this is indeed well done! (If this is not your typical reaction to teens, then I would almost wonder at your own world view… almost.)
This one is fast paced, picking up from where Regent ends almost without a hiccup. The pace does not let up, and you are carried through the story on an avalanche of excitement, suspense, and sorrow. There are a few moments of laughter – especially when Kendra sticks her fists into the pie – but for the most part, there is a sense of shucking off the old to prepare for the new. Many of the characters you have gotten to know in the previous books make appearances, some are cameos, others as anchors to the past, but the focus is definitely on what is coming next.
I normally don’t mention if a series book is a good stand alone – mostly because it IS a series book. However, I applaud Brian Rathbone on this one. Though it is the middle book of the series (and I think his saga, but may be wrong) for a someone new to his world, this book is unusual in that it is truly a book of transitions, so can stand alone or in company with the rest. A few of the references may be a bit obscure during some of the dialogue, but for the most part, it is a well rounded, self-contained book.
Over all rating? A happy 4.5 out of 5 stars. (Can we do something about the teen angst please?!? No? Oh, well.) Another one to recommend for most fantasy readers.