Let’s begin with Rafe. Was he using sex to manipulate Lia? I love that Pearson explored gender roles in YA. Traditionally, women are the ones who use sex as a tool and this isn’t even something we see in YA fiction. I liked that Lia fell for it the first time but not the second. I don’t know if she realized that Rafe was using sex to get her to do what he wanted but she was strong enough to end it.
I liked their relationship and as I stated in the spoiler free review, I thought it was mature. From the first book, we couldn’t trust Rafe. In book two Rafe admitted he didn’t believe in her gift, he had no intentions of taking her back to Morrighan, and he had lots of secrets. So when they have big disagreements and part ways, I felt it was warranted and set up well.
I know a lot of people may not like the ending but I LOVE a happy ending. I’ve read plenty of books where the strong “independent” heroine eventually goes off with the guy but Lia took care of her people first and the guy came to her-YAY!
Kaden. I never felt there was a love triangle in any of the books. Since Lia used Kaden and didn’t genuinely reciprocate Kaden’s feelings, I didn’t consider it a love triangle. I thought it was big of Kaden to realize that Lia’s loved Rafe and that he should get out of the way. I also liked the friendship Kaden and Rafe developed. We never had to read through some stupid jealousy fights among war-I hate when authors do that.
The one issue I had with the book is the Kaden Pauline pairing. I appreciated the non-existence of the insta-love and even at the end they technically weren’t dating but Kaden’s feelings came on rather quickly. I guess it was because he delivered her baby and he felt a kinship but I wasn’t too jazzed about that pairing. It wasn’t enough to drop the rating but it was enough for me to scoff loudly.
Battle. In true Pearson fashion the shit hits the fan in the last 50 pages. The battle was reminiscent of the Battle of the Bastards (If you watch Game of Thrones, you’ll get the reference). It began with Yvet running across the battlefield just like Rickon and it included the showdown the Lia and the Komizar.
I thought the battle was a bit too quick considering the entire build up of this book was this showdown but I’m also glad it didn’t take the span of several chapters. I’m not really into war strategy or battles. I would have liked Lia to kill the Komizar with her own hands. I’ve read several books where the heroine doesn’t kill because they are too compassionate or whatever but the hero kills without mercy. I know Lia killed Malich but I wanted her to kill the Komizar. Kaden got to kill his father. This is why I like Celaena/Aelin from Throne of Glass; she don’t give two shits and she’ll kill anyone who stands in her way without remorse. Yes I realize remorse is important and without it you are a psychopath but Celaena kills people who deserves it.
The fact that Lia didn’t kill the Komizar with her bare hands and the length of the book is the reason why I gave this book 4.75 instead of a 5.0. As I said in the spoiler free review, I know Pearson was tying up loose ends but I felt some of the conversations were repetitive and some of the confrontations could have been left out. The confrontation of the soldier Lia dumped ale on in the first book came back and she asserted her importance. I felt that could have been left out. I felt that Rafe could have told Lia why he really accepted the betrothal instead of Sven. It was little stuff like that.
The Dragon. I have really been focused the identity of the dragon. I theorized it was Kaden, maybe the king, maybe the Vicegerent, I’ve basically pointed at everyone. I’m not quite sure if I read this correctly but I think the Dragon was greed and not an actual person. What/who did you guys think the Dragon was?