When I first read this book I was surprised at how abrupt (and complete) the shift from Maered (the heroine of the first two books) to Hem was. After being drawn completely into Maered's story, the shift in focus actually made me initially dislike this book. I've read it through many times since then, and although it still irks that I have to wait to find out what happened to Maered, this is still an amazing story!
While his sister searches for the Treesong in distant lands (which we read about in "The Gift" and "The Riddle"), Hem is slowly and reluctantly forced into a war where even children must fight one another to keep their freedom.
Croggan has created a world where music, magic and love are all as important as one another. She doesn't depend on elaborate magical powers, or open warfare, to make her stories exciting- although a good dose of both of them makes these as appealing to fantasy devotees as ever. Instead, the stories are carried by the very real people who live in the pages- people who aren't smarter, or more canny, or more beautiful than the next, but who face their problems in ways that we can relate to.
The whole series so far is very well written and entertaining.