It may not have been the earth-shattering series I was hoping for, but it was nonetheless a consistently diverting chronicle (if a little drawn-out at times) with a vibrant array of characters and exquisitely flowing prose from a master of the genre.
But in truth, I don't know what to make of this book. Rating it is really difficult. On the one hand `The Sapphire Rose' rolls along at a good, solid pace and is unquestionably a satisfying conclusion to the Elenium Trilogy, but on the other hand the Eddings' style of writing almost works against itself here by creating too much ease and friendliness between the characters (no matter what side they happen to be on), thereby detracting from all the brutal descriptions of impending doom, religious fanaticism and all the various horrors of war, which are the familiar themes that every Eddings fan will by now be very well accustomed to.
Thankfully though this final part of the trilogy is not as infuriating as the previous two- the sarcastic remarks have been significantly toned down in comparison to the first story in the trilogy `The Diamond Throne' and the storyline here is nowhere near as infuriating as that of the previous story `The Ruby Knight'. About the only aspect of the writing that really grated as I read `The Sapphire Rose' was the cringeful and criminally over-used term of endearment, which ALL the male characters (whether on the side of good or evil) use to address one another. If I have to read "Old boy" one more time, I don't know what I'll do!
As a past lover of Eddings' Belgariad and Mallorean series I'd probably characterise myself as still being a fan of the works of David and Leigh Eddings, despite since reading examples of the genre that have (in my view) surpassed their stories. While I haven't found this trilogy anything like as exciting, or involving as the previous series developed by the Edding's partnership (I believe David now credits his wife as being as much responsible for the creation of his stories as he himself, even before her name accompanied his as co-author) and along the way I've been annoyed by certain aspects of their writing that I felt detracted from the magnanimous tone that this series attempted to set for itself...`The Diamond Throne', `The Ruby Knight' and `The Sapphire Rose' are still engaging, accomplished and extremely well-crafted stories.
If you loved the previous two stories in this trilogy then you'll have no complaints for this final chapter. You may even be itching to begin the next series developed by the Eddings team (The Tamuli), which continues the story of Sparhawk and Ehlana. As for me, I may just read that series at some point in the future, but for now I'm very much looking forward to a gap year (or seven) between now and my next venture into familiar Eddings territory.
4 stars for ending on a high note.