Release Date: 23/02/12
The penultimate volume of the mighty Riftwar Cycle War rages in Midkemia but behind the chaos there is disquieting evidence of dark forces at work. Jim Dasher's usually infallible intelligence network has been cleverly dismantled; nowhere is safe. He feels that the world is coming apart at the seams and is helpless to protect his nation. Quiet palace coups are underway in Roldem and Rillanon; and King Gregory of the Isles has yet to produce an heir. In each kingdom a single petty noble has risen from obscurity to threaten the throne. Lord Hal of Crydee and his great friend Ty Hawkins, champion swordsman of the Masters' Court, are entrusted with the task of smuggling Princess Stephane and her lady-in-waiting, the lovely but mysterious Lady Gabriella, out of Roldem to a place of greater safety. But is there any safe haven to be found? Meanwhile, Hal's younger brothers Martin and Brendan are attempting to hold the strategic city of Ylith against an onslaught of Keshian Dog Soldiers, and a mysterious force from beneath the sea. The Kingdom might lose Crydee and recover; but if Ylith falls, all is lost. An unknown player appears to orchestrating these conflicts. Can Pug and the Conclave of Shadows track down this source before Midkemia is destroyed?
Having enjoyed the previous tales in the series, I was really looking forward to this story, until that is I was reading it and the sheer amount of editing problems as well as discontinuity error’s reared their head. You have to rewrite parts to make sense (as two of the characters get mixed up), you have to make sense of what the author’s trying to say and to be honest this is a bad enough thing to get through on a two bit operation, not a multinational company like Harper Collins. Whether a big part of this is due to loss of data and having to go back to earlier version’s I don’t know but when a company (as well as an author) relies on reputation it is taking things a little far.
That said, I did enjoy the parts that made sense, the tale is building up for a few additional revelations and the world of Midkemia really is in dire peril. All round, it did have some positive elements but the overall standard is sadly lacking especially when a friend of mine told me that “An Author is only as good as their last book.” If that’s the case REF has a hell of a lot to do to restore confidence in his brand and as a reader I would suggest that perhaps longer is taken to make sure that the fan’s don’t feel cheated.