The third book in Eileen Mueller’s series shows more backstory, but also smaller plotholes and reveals one peculiar danger of writing.
Since that’s what the book starts with, let’s start with the “danger”. The end of book two featured a couple of characters braving the perils of their capture in Death Valley. This was described in quite a lot of detail, including the bleary and hopeless atmosphere. However, the information they had brought back was… almost nothing. So, two characters are sent back to gather more.
This mission takes a couple of weeks (six, I believe) but is pretty much glossed over. This makes sense in a way – the end of book two gives a good idea of how such captivity looks like and, as it shows, there wasn’t that much discovered during that time. So, mechanically, this is a decision that is understandable and probably right for not dragging out the story. However, given how dangerous a place it is, fast-forwarding through this section doesn’t feel right in other aspects. This is one of the “choose the lesser evil” scenarios.
At Dragon’s hold, as if the place wasn’t in turmoil due to past distrust and grudges, rumors begin to spread that endanger what little coherency is left. Worse, those who may be willing to do anything about are instead holding on to their grudges. This gets even more ridiculous when the two riders sent to Death Valley are away for quite long – and, eventually, only one returns. The other remains captive and, as he’s been a thorn in the butt for some, there isn’t enough agreement about rescuing him – just yet, at least – but leaving him in Death Valley may be a slow death sentence.
So, it’s up to a couple of rule-breakers to try and rouse the rest (especially the stubborn council members) to action, but this meets quite some resistance. Especially as there are further incidents. However, what unfolds at Dragon’s hold puts some events of the first two books into a better light, providing some explanations for the past as well as the source of this discord. With those, some may be coming around to not being so thick-headed – for how long, though, that’s hard to guess.
There’s also some background for Zens, the major bad guy, including one trope I’m not too fond of. Only at the end, there are some better revelations for his plans, and the book ends on a bit positive note as the main pair is reunited. Just the same, the ending shows that things are far from over even for some characters that should’ve been out of the picture for a while. Which, I guess, shows another failure of judgment on the council…
Read date: 21.-29.5.2022
Goodreads/Amazon rating: 4,57/4,6
My rating: 85%
Length: 404 pages (Book three Kindle edition; in three-book bundle, it’s from 64% to 99%)
My highlights (shared link for the set, book three is from 64% onwards)
I’m keeping 85% as with book two, mostly because of the above-mentioned issue and the fact that there’s still no hint as for the minor plot hole I mentioned in book two. In general, the series is decent-paced in its writing but the plot isn’t progressing that fast.