Just as with the previous book in the series, I enjoyed the world and the storytelling a lot, but some relationship-related things clouded my enjoyment.
The plot introduces a new culture, the Elves, and explores them vividly and well (within the constraints of the rather matter-of-fact prose). The plot isn’t bad, though I could’ve done with less of a whodunnit in the middle – following the formula of “who’s the next suspect” felt tired.
With regards to character development, the good part is that there is some. After the traumatic events of the last book, our protagonists take off for two years and live in relative solitude and happiness. That’s good and understandable. This downtime also deepens their relationship (that only started out at the end of the last book), so we jump from “we have kissed once” to “we have been lovers for two years”. Alright – not ideal, but I’ll suspend my disappointment.
But despite enjoying the protagonists’ relationship and the general open queerness of the world, I can’t help but think that same-sex relationships are still treated differently. Not in-world, where they are established as common and unremarkable, but by the author. Same-sex pairs are rarely referred to as “lovers”, and any sex is an instant fade-to-black, which isn’t the case for less central hetero relationships. It felt surprisingly uneasy, especially compared to Duane’s Tale of the Five.