The fourth book continues the over-arching theme of the succession question, and focuses upon the war, (and potential end to it), with the Canim, who have annexed western Alera following an exodus from their native land.
The book has three main storylines, that of Tavi (who’s trying to find a peaceful end to the war), Valiar Marcus (who is busy fighting it) and Amara, who is trying to help the First Lord prevent Kalarus from committing a lunatic act of destruction.
I quite liked the book. It was as well-written as I’d come to expect, there’s more genuine progression of the series’ theme and there’s some more romance (for those who like that sort of thing. I prefer sadism and violence, which may explain why I’m single).
A few more plot twists would’ve gone down nicely. Sometimes it felt a little too predictable, although I did enjoy the ongoing mental torment of Valiar Marcus. He, more than Tavi, seems to be the real central character of the story (not unlike Darth Vader to Luke Skywalker). I also enjoyed the ending of the Amara storyline, and the scene-setting for book 5.
Mr. Butcher does well with some significant news Tavi receives, and the emotional conflict he suffers. Given he’s no longer a boy but a seasoned soldier and leader I think his reaction emotionally makes perfect sense, though he seems slightly too self-assured about its implications.
The approach of the Canim and their leader, Nasaug, to the war and Alerans fits with previous Canim behaviour. The writing of the campaign is good, as it avoids getting bogged down in petty detail yet manages to get across why some decisions are moronic, and the idiocy of a certain kind of politician.
I enjoyed it, but think a little more pace/urgency would have helped. I’ll certainly be getting book 5, though I may get something else first. I’ve been considering getting another saga (although Njal’s was something I found a bit of a slog), but was surprised to see some are more costly in eBook than physical format (which I hate).