Wow. Easily my favourite book of the series so far.
We get: character development for everybody (except maybe the advisory wizards, they got theirs last time). Dairine is obviously front and center for this, but Kit and Nita get to explore their feelings for each other, and Nita’s parents get to deal with computers and even more wizardry.
I really wonder how I would have reacted to this book as a child. Would it have been to complex or abstract? By now, I just love it. I love the inclusion of computers in a book from 1990, I love how it reminds me of Stross (computers can work magic), and HPMOR (magic has a system that gets more clear as the books carry on). I love how we deal with the implications of creating a true AI in a book from 1990. For children. This book went in a different direction than I thought and wasn’t just a copy of the first two books, including Dairine as protagonist. It explores a different theme entirely, and does it well. Will re-read, and it easily deserved my five stars.
For a similar feeling of interstellar travel by kids who have to deal with very real conflicts, Have Space Suit–Will Travel is a good match.