So have you read the first four books? No you say? Do you plan on reading any of these? Yes you say? THEN DON'T READ THIS REVIEW.
Why you ask? Because some things I mention in this review aren't a spoiler- not for someone who has read this entire series up to this book, but for YOU, that haven't read this series, this will be Spoilerland, so you are warned. Continue forward at your own risk reader.
I looked forward to this book desperately as I do with any series I adore. This is an unusual series for me because it's definitely "cleaner" than most of the stuff I love to consume yet Buroker keeps me captivated through the ensemble cast and the relationships between all of them.
I was hesitant starting this book because I knew it was going to have a lot of Maldynado POV involved and I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy it. When I read a series what will make me continue to read it has as much to do with what an author decides to do with the direction of the plot as much or more to do with the character they decide to represent POV wise in particular books. Maldynado is a charming rascal, a fop to all that know him despite his considerable fighting skills and an outcast from his noble Warrior Caste family. Throughout the entire series he is portrayed as charming and funny eye candy that will come in handy when you need a fighter but lazy when it comes to team spirit. Surprisingly Maldynado becomes a much more sympathetic character in this book and I found myself enjoying him more- his conversations with Yara and other members of the group were hilarious and priceless! His dismay when he has to constantly struggle to get Sespian to try to trust him because of his ties to his revolting family is sad to watch. Poor Maldynado, I thought through this entire thing. He's a lovable fool who has some hidden depths that even Yara finds herself covertly intrigued by.
You will still see plenty Amaranthe and Sicarius, almost not enough sometimes but it is well reasoned given the story. I found the interactions between Sicarius and Amaranthe to be satisfying - yet I wanted more. I want more. I need more. Did I already say that? I say this because I feel like surely in real life Ms. Buroker is a serious tease. I don't need graphic depictions of sex to float my boat, but ah don't worry, you won't get any of that here! It's clean I tell you, but I'm impatiently waiting. Impatiently.../tapping foot furiously. Action Jackson- we readers need some in this story. I feel by the end of this book we are at the precipice and holding our breath. It's uncomfortable. Only the afterword, (is this becoming habit now Ms. Buroker? :p ) ameliorated me somewhat.
There isn't a ton of Booksie and Akystr although they are in the mix as usual. I find the thoughts Amaranthe has about her team refreshing and realistic. Some Very Important Events happen this installment.
Sespian- deserves his own notice and paragraph. I find him underwhelming. More of a shadow of a character at times but he comes out more in this book than any previous with some good moves and commentary and sensible distrust of Amaranthe's crew and his new world. But he's too naive to me to be completely likable and too vulnerable and well I guess he's accurately rendered as the youth that he is. And frankly most 19 year olds(that is my guess for his age), even the very best of them, the most intelligent and amazingly ambitious of them are just not really attractive to me (uh I guess that's good since I'm in my late 30's and all but I mean as CHARACTERS IN A NOVEL AS ROMANCE POTENTIAL mmkay? :p ).
Big secrets are revealed, so much action that is normal with this series happens the entire book, moments occur that any fans of this series will be happy to see.
The ending was not my favorite but it's nothing to rant about.
Per Buroker's afterword, I'll be purchasing Encrypted soon since that series is supposed to tie into this one and we'll find out more by Book 6 of this Emperors Edge series.
I love this series and I'll continue to read anything of Burokers!