As a huge fan of the earlier Deryni books, I was extremely underwhelmed by the first book in this trilogy and so I started this with some trepidation.
Luckily this book does flow better than the first one did, but it still lacks a main thrust to the plot and so it still comes over as an exercise in filling in the bits of history laid down in the books set in a later period. The novel again covers a considerable passage of time and tells the story of many different people, but they don't unify into any sort of coherent whole.
Concentrating on the plight of just one of the characters from here and giving them something to achieve would have greatly improved things. Instead we are introduced to someone, they have woe after woe heaped upon them and then just when you think they might fight back, they die, usually in a way that has nothing to do with any foes they may have, or problems they're trying to solve. This may be realistic, as people in these times did die in a multitude of tragic ways, but when main characters keel over and die from consumption in a story, it's curiously flat.
Then, as with the first book, we have to sit around while the news of the death is passed from person to person, letting us see everyone's reactions, which are always the same that it's sad. We get a forlorn funeral. Then the narrative move on to someone else who has heaps of woe dumped on them and just when things get interesting they die in a sad and lonely way...
What stops this getting thoroughly tedious is that the author can still write a good scene and that as she cuts down the characters there are still a few we know must live and that gradually increases the interest. Best of all in the final stages a plot arrives out of nowhere. That plot may be corny with low-grade action and adventure thrust upon the situation, but it reads so much better than everything that comes before it and is a return to the fun style from earlier in the series.
I'll therefore read on when the next book arrives, and I hope it continues in the style of the final section of this book.