This was a great story that hearkens back to classic earlier Valdemar stories. The stories and characters were engaging and there were several “surprises” that gave new insights. There were several things I really liked reading in this story, including the reintroduction of female role opportunities, a closer look at the world of the highborn at court, the maturation of several of the characters, and how the author wrapped up loose ends and transitioned from the Collegium Chronicles. Even though characters carried over, this felt like a new more-dimensioned work. I also appreciated the way the story wrapped up and not being left hanging or with unresolved questions at the end.
With regards to the reviews that wanted more big battles, country level conflicts, etc… this book style is consistent with the first books in earlier series like Magic’s Pawn and Arrows of the Queen where the big conflicts usually came later in the series and the first books were almost always building the framework and setting. Another reason, I’ve used the term “classic” in this review.
In closing, it is great to see the author back to her earlier form. I’m not sure what was going on over the last few years with the prior Collegium Chronicles but upon reflection, an author cannot work for as many years as the Valdemar series has been going without having “real life” disruptions intrude and getting derailed for a time. Unfortunately, I know from my background in academic libraries that publishing is a major business with deadlines and contracts that must be met. Whatever the situation was, I’m just really glad it appears to be resolved and that I went ahead ordered this book. I will be waiting impatiently for the next book to come out in a year or so.