I would actually give this book four stars, but my criticism with the endings of Barbara Ann Wright's series holds me back from really granting it that. Those who have read the first two books know that Wright always ends her books at a high point, and personally I don't think her stories deserve it (and I mean that in an entirely complementary sense.) I'm not saying this as a disgruntled fan who doesn't like being left on the edge, though I did feel that way when I initially finished this book, which was why I waited a few days to write my review.
In my opinion, huge cliffhangers are a desperate means to keep the reader interested in a story and willing to buy the next installment, and this series really doesn't need it. The world-building and characterization are well done and highly engaging. Even without being left in suspense, I would still want to learn more. I'm curious about the countries, the politics, and the structure of the fantasy world; I care about the characters, their feelings, needs and desires. There's no need to leave me in suspense in order to keep me entertained. And there is a downside to using cliffhangers, especially when they are used repeatedly as Wright is doing. People may stop reading the series until it is finished, or drop it altogether just to avoid being left hanging; some people even resent the feeling.
It is my belief that Wright could do her talent and her stories a lot more justice by letting them end on a more subtly suspenseful note. She's leaving the last few steps of the traditional story arch out of her equation, going straight from climax to "About the Author." Instead of leaving her reader cursing at her information page and turning back to the story thinking they missed something, I think she has the talent to end it on a still suspenseful but less desperate note, one which would rather leave us thoughtful, contemplative, and curious.
Waiting on the next one. Keep up the good work. :)