The first book in this trilogy introduced Father Yarvi, the second followed Thorn Bathu. The conclusion has a bit of a wider focus. The ‘main character’ is arguably the princess Skara, but Thorn and Yarvi are also prominently featured, as well as several other POV characters. The result is a book that feels a little less personal and immediate, at least to me.
However, it’s unquestionably an excellent book. It’s witty, insightful and full of ‘quotable quotes,’ (not all of which would the author agree with, clearly.) It’s also even darker than the first two in the series. We see people who have, or are in the process of becoming, harsh and cruel. There’s quite a lot of ends justifying the means. As one might expect in a book about war, there is revenge, betrayal, sacrifice, and cold-blooded choices. In many situations there seemingly is no ‘greater good,’ only a ‘lesser evil.’
The title refers to the idea that “only half a war is fought with swords” – the other half, of course, is fought with the mind: strategizing and out-thinking one’s opponent. But the damage caused by such plots can be more devastating than a straightforward battle.
One small plot point aggravated me: <spoiler>After all his waffling, no way in hell should Rin have put up with Koll’s belated and half-assed apologies to get back together with him. I would’ve been so much more delighted if she had told him he missed his chance, and to screw off.</spoiler>
I have to admit that I didn’t like this book *quite* as much as the previous two – but it was still quite excellent.