First I must admit that the cover art of this book is a little distracting. Not because it is of the typical fantasy ilk, but because of the guy on the cover. He looks like Gabriel Aubry. The model. Halle Berry's baby daddy. In other words, HOT!
Now that I have gotten that totally shallow piece of business off my chest, on with the real review.
This is the third and final installment of Jennifer Fallon's Warlord trilogy and she ends it in superb fashion. In this book we see the fruition of many smaller plot threads that were started in the first book.
Marla's first (and ruthlessly spurned) suitor, Hablet, the King of Fardonhya decides to invade Hythrun and kill off her family. Unbeknownst to the people of Hythrun, there is a little known law that a living Wolfblade can actually rule Fardonya, The time is opportune because the Hythrun people have just been devastated by a deadly plague (that Alija allowed to spread in one of her more bonehead schemes to kill off Damin Wolfblade). Damin not only survives the plague, but rises to the challenge of war.
Meanwhile, there are many domestic dramas playing out: Damin's uncle Makhas is determined to marry of his daughter to Damin with disastrous results; Teryn Lionclaw is on the run from her incompetent husband who has fallen under the influence of a scheming courtier; Damin's younger brother, Narvelle Wolfblade has entered into a romance with a married woman whose husband is a powerful Warlord out for his blood; The Assassin's guild has called on Marla to honor a promise she made to them so long ago; and Kalan, Marla and Wrayan Lightfinger hatch a diabolical scheme to bring Alija to justice.
So much happens and all of it is both exciting and satisfying. It is nice to see the younger Wolfblades, all grown up and coming into their own. I especially like that Damin, who had consciously adopted the mien of a young, carefree, bon vivant, sheds that false image in a flash when it matters and finally (to the surprise of everyone) shows the true mettle of the son of Marla Wolfblade.
And just in the previous two books, Fallon knows when and how to turn what could be a predicatable plot moment into an unpredictable, often shocking twist. She does it on several occasions in this book and keeps the story moving in a grandly entertaining fashion. My favorite part is, when seeing her children safely grown up, Marla finally decides to bring her fight with Alija right out in the open. All bets are off. She delivers a stunning body blow to Alija and the two women take off the gloves (figuratively speaking) and go for broke in the last chapter of the war they've been politely (and in deadly fashion) waging against each other for 25 years.
Also, the humor that was more evident in the second book continues on in this one. It isn't cloying or even pervasive. But there is a lightness of tone, a dryness of wit that abounds. The crackling battle of wits between the fierce King of Fardhonya and his high maintenance (yet stunningly canny) daughter Princess Adrina is delightful. As is the banter between Damon and his brothers.
When I finally closed the book on this series I sat back and sighed with pleasure. It was a great trilogy, fun to read and I can't wait to see what else Jennifer Fallon has in store for us.