In origin, this is half a book. Each volume of the Crown of Stars series was longer than the last, and here at the end it finally got too long to put under one cover.

It’s also hard to figure out how to treat this section of the series. The major world-changing event was the return of the Ashoi (or not, with the potential of destroying the planet in the process), at the end of the fifth book. Is this this just a denouement? As usual, the entire, by now very large, cast of characters show up with their individual threads running forward. While things happen with all of them, most of them don’t get any kind of recognizable arc in this book, which shows its ‘part one of two’ nature.

But… one of the major themes of the series brings it over to what I call “dynastic fantasy”. One of the major concerns has been control of the conjoined kingdom of Wendar and Varre, and with the last couple of books, Aosta as well. With the death of King Henry at the end of book five, this is now a major question as none of the obvious heirs are in a good position. This shows better development, with power struggles in Wendar, Aosta, and among the Ashoi all being much of the focus of the action, and the end promises a better focus on Wendar itself for the end of the series.

What actually holds this book together, however, is the weather. Between the giant storm and volcanism caused by the return to earth of missing pieces, and spells to keep the skies clear at important positions, much of the continent is under a perpetual cloud cover for the several months of the book, with signs that it might change only coming at the very end. Concerns and reactions to this are one of the constants through the majority of the different threads.

Overall, this book reshuffles the furniture a bit to cover several now-dead characters, but continues reaching for some form of final climax. Frankly, there’s so much up in the air, I’m not sure how it can be wrapped up in one book.