Her allies have secrets and loyalties soon to be revealed:
Gabe's heritage might save the continent or damn it.
Daemon's wicked past comes back around.
Her mother both loves and hates her.
All the pieces are in play for the final installment of the first arc of the Last Gift series.
There is a fair amount of action in this book: Chase sequences, battles of magic, explosions, and hand-to-hand combat all occur. Everything is described with enough skill so I knew what was happening without the passages being repetitive. There is torture in this book but far less than the novel where Gabe was kept in the dungeon.
Everyone's motivations (whether complex or simple) are fully presented as they act. Those of moral ambiguity (like Dae) are given the leeway to inhabit or change who they are. I can see even the minor characters as full people in my head, and it's not just because they are described as physically diverse. I will say I wasn't thrilled with the outcome of two characters: Prince Cassian and North because I felt like, though their motives made sense, they left me with a sense of wrongness.
All the various settings are still gorgeously described without bogging anything down.
One of the gripes I had with the first book was not knowing much about the motivations of the main villain. But this book puts so much in perspective as we get to know Elenor's mother; she has so many secrets connecting the dots on Elenor's father that it felt like we finally got a real look at what drove him. I still hated him at the end (and his wife somewhat, too) but still.
The book goes at a good pace while leaving room for character development and surprises. Every chapter felt necessary.
Elenor and Gabe have more than one discussion about the use of her painkiller. As her physician, he often tries to warn her away from a higher dosage because of the potential risks. She argues that she's taken the drug for over thirteen years and knows her body's limits. I thought this debate (one chronic pain patients have all the time) was an excellent inclusion. To his credit, Gabe never accuses her of being an addict or threatens to take her meds away.
There are large threads of hope, perseverance, found family, and redemption even during the darker parts of this series which I appreciate... especially since some sections can get quite grim.
If you're expecting a neat bow on the ending, you'll be disappointed. While some of the threats are gone by the epilogue, some manage to escape and others appear at the end. This series is definitely far from over. But I loved it, recommend it, and can't wait for the next arc!