The Magravandian emperor has finally died, and his legitimate heir, Gastern, ascends to the throne. However, the now-former empress Tatrini plots to place another of her sons on the throne by uniting the elemental powers, while the vengeful and obsessive mage Taropat, frightened by his visions of Dragon Heir Valraven becoming the True King, kidnaps Valraven's wife Varencienne and their daughter Ellony. In a consummation of the Chronicles of Magravandias, those who believe in Valraven and those who believe in the Malagash dynasty begin to draw together to decide the fate of the empire.
I was initially extremely wary of approaching the third Magravandias volume, because I simply could not entirely enjoy the first two, especially the overwrought spiritual nonsense of the second. However, I found The Way of Light an extremely exciting surprise - it's the final volume that makes the entire trilogy worth reading. Though Constantine's writing is still annoyingly choppy and often juvenile in feel, what she really shines at is creating intensely heated and painful inter-character relationships, and I felt that The Way of Light is a pinnacle in this area. She excels at bringing together her cast, with many characters finally accepting their roles and responsibilities. Varencienne's maturation and Taropat's loss of his bitterness and acceptance of his former identity as Khaster were particularly fulfilling to watch. What's more, Constantine, very realistically and painfully, does *not* resolve all of their raw and inconclusive relationships. Just like the ultimate path of the empire, they remain uncertain, and whether or not they are ever resolved depends on the reader's own interpretations and predictions.
Of course, it's a far from perfect book. Constantine's cast is so enormous that it's inevitable that at least a few characters get lost in the mix - Shan, who was nearly the hero of the last book, is almost entirely dropped as a leading protagonist, as is Merlan Leckery, who barely even appears in the book. In addition, the hurried pace of the conclusion undermines her attempts to redeem the reputations of some of the under-appreciated characters, such as Tatrini, Almorante, even Maycarpe, and in particular, Bayard, who began as a very attractively fiery character, but disappointingly ends up as a mindless villain.
Still, The Way of Light is most definitely worth reading, even and especially if you were frustrated by the first two books. I look forward to investigating more of Constantine's works now.