Any good series should up the stakes in its final installment, and this one certainly did. Elisa is a sorcerer queen who doesn’t yet know how to wield the magic of the Godstone put in her navel by God on her naming day, but her enemies, the Inviernos, seem to have purposes for her of their own. They kidnapped Hector, the captain of her guard and the man she loves, to ensure that she would come to them of her own free will, thus fulfilling their prophecy. Elisa had only just realized that she needed to marry Hector in order to unite her kingdom when he was taken (prior to this, she thought he was politically forbidden to her.) So she indeed follows, and catches up with him fairly early in the book–but he wonders whether she truly loves him, or whether she wants him for political reasons. This perpetuates the tension between them a bit longer, but not much. Elisa always manages to shove her foot down her throat, and doesn’t miss several more opportunities to do so with Hector in this book. It’s what I like least about her character. She’s so awkward and cringe-inducing.
Meanwhile, Elisa and her companions travel deep into Invierno territory. They learn what the Inviernos wanted with her, and she narrowly escapes the fate they had in store for her. Along the way, she rescues a little slave girl, who turns out to be invaluable to them. Elisa learns that her own home nation is in the epicenter of a war, and the only hope for her own kingdom and those of the neighboring nations led by her sister and her friend Cosme is if the latter two swear fealty to her, making her the empress of the entire known world.
I understood Elisa’s reasons for this, but whenever a character elevates themselves to supreme importance like this, it kind of leaves me cold. I prefer stories where each character plays a critical role, where they all need each other, where one character isn’t practically god-like. Carson did cripple Elisa’s power going into her final battle, which added a bit of intrigue, but it still felt like it was all about her. I was also primarily invested in the dynamic between her and Hector (for Hector’s sake more than for hers, as I liked him considerably more than I liked her). Once the tension was resolved there, I was less engaged with the rest of the story. Still, it’s a satisfying happily ever after!
My rating: ****
Language: none that I can recall
Violence: fantasy only; nothing gratuitous
Sexual content: present, though the main characters are betrothed by that point, just not married yet.
Political content: none