I have to admit that I've found the first three books of the House Wars series trying. Not that they aren't good books, or that I haven't enjoyed reading them, but to be honest they felt in large part like a re-hash of material that I'd already read.
Yes, they contained necessary information. Yes, they contained scenes that weren't in previous books. Yes, they revealed motivatons and character background that explained later events. But, they were basically aimed at expanding previously published material. The scenes were often provided with a different viewpoint, and much of the material provided a look at events and scenes that weren't covered in the previous books, but it still felt like I was marking time reading these books.
I've been following the series since Hunter's Oath, and the first three books felt very much like a replay of the material covered in Hunter's Oath and Hunter's Death. So much so that I was disappointed that they didn't move faster and cover more material.
Now at last we've reached the point where the Sun Sword books ended and the storyline is at last advancing again. The Terafin is dead, and Jewel and her allies must deal with the aftermath. Jewel has to deal with her guilt over being elsewhere when Amarais, The Terafin, her mentor and in many ways adoptive mother, died. She must also learn to deal with the politics of the situation and the ongoing threat, not merely to herself and her den, but to House Terafin and the Empire itself. In fact, the situation is dire.
The book covers a relatively short period of time, mere days or perhaps a week, but there are major developments. It is obvious that Jewel intends to take control of House Terafin, to become The Terafin, and this book shows the opening moves in that struggle. And Jewel must not only deal with the machinations of the various factions within House Terafin, or the Imperial Court, but with the Kialli (demons), the Exalted (godborn), the Sacred (priests), and the Gods themselves. Powers are awakening and moving in the background, and the Empire and its citizens are forced to deal with the repercussions.
In the Sun Sword books, Jewel faced the Wild Hunt and the Winter Queen. Winter should be ending and Summer beginning, but things aren't that simple. The Hidden Ways where the First Born dwell are beginning to intrude on everyday reality. The Gods and their children are worried about what is happening, and Jewel is apparently a catalyst or perhaps more accurately one of the catalysts for the forthcoming changes.
Michelle West once again proves that she is a compelling author. She reveals just enough to draw you in, without entirely revealing the mysteries that she holds for future books. After finishing this book, I have a whole list of questions that demand answers, and a burning desire to read the next book in the series, something that the last three books didn't inspire. Now, I find myself terrribly impatient, waiting for the next volume.
If you like Michelle West's writing, and have read the earlier books in the series, by all means read this book! If you haven't been following the series, then I would recommend going back and starting from the beginning with the books Hunter's Oath & Hunter's Death, or at the very least reading the Sun Sword series before you begin the House Wars books. There is simply too much background information necessary to follow it all without those as a prelude.
This is a good book and a good read. I intend to recommend it to all my friends.