This is the final volume in Mark Robson's young adult Imperial series. Readers were left at the end of Imperial Assassin wondering what on earth was going on. Had the Emperor, Surabar, really been assassinated? If so, how would our heroes - Femke the spy, and Reynik the soldier (turned spy, then assassin) - be able to fulfil the mission that Surabar had given them, of infiltrating and then destroying the Assassins' Guild?
The new book picks this question up in Robson's trademark style, with a compelling account of how the assassin Shalidar came up with his plan for disposing of Surabar. As the story progresses, we are pulled into a world of vicious power politics, as several ambitious lords compete to become the next Emperor. As some of them call on the Guild of Assassins to improve the odds, all hell breaks loose across Shandrim.
Meanwhile, Femke and Reynik need to protect Lord Kempten, Surabar's chosen successor, from detection. There is also the small matter of working out how to get Reynik out from the Assassin's Guild, tied to it as he is by a magical icon that will kill him if he strays too far...
In this final volume of a great all-action trilogy, Mark Robson pulls out all the stops. I was impressed by the pacing of the book, and especially by the way he managed to weave together all the threads from the previous two books, adding in for good measure several other characters and ideas that were first heard of in his earlier Darkweaver series.
The way Robson has chosen to end this story is spectacular! I felt I was right there, alongside Femke, Reynik and their allies, as the action unfolded. A great end to a thrilling series; I'd recommend this to anyone who likes a fast-paced fantasy thriller suitable for young adults.