Legacy of Kings is something of a letdown for a series that started with so much promise. Friedman doesn't quite reach the same depths of darkness that are shown in the best of her prior work, but the background and premise are intriguing enough to be worth reading.
This third volume, as with the second, to some extent, just doesn't seem to have gotten as much authorial or editorial attention as one might hope. The copy editing is occasionally sloppy (typos, word order, punctuation), and that seems true of the content as well. Two things in particular stand out:
- a key aspect of the story, the nature of Magisters, is hinted at throughout, in what becomes a very awkward and visible attempt to generate mystery while withholding information. By the time we learn the truth, it's not only anti-climactic, it's mostly a relief that there will be no more veiled hints.
- another key mystery, the nature of the lyr, is never explained at all. While it's at the core of the story, along with several religions, we just never find out what it's all about.
At the end, the day is won in part by a contrived deus ex machina that's poorly supported. It's clear from Ms. Friedman's previous work, and from the first book in this series, that she can do great work when she puts her mind to it. This book, however, is more like her early novels, when she was still learning her craft, than her later work. I wish that she'd had or taken more time to get this right.
In truth, looking back at Ms. Friedman's other writing, it's really only The Coldfire Trilogy that was highly effective. The standalone novels have varied from poor to good. Still, this trilogy started so well that I had high expectations. In the end, this is just a reasonably good story. If you've read the other books in the trilogy, by all means get this. If not, stick with The Coldfire Trilogy.