Emperor and Clown
Tortured by the husband of Inos, the woman he loves, and seemingly abandoned by her, ex-stableboy, now adept Rap is near death. Eventually, though, Rap, Inos, her husband Azak, her aunt Kade, and - most ominously - the violent Kalkor along with the goblin sworn to torture Rap to death are all on their way to Hub, the imperial capital for a fatal confrontation.
There are a couple of too-easy saves in this volume, and quite a lot of travel, but overall, the series finale pays off in a satisfying way. Rap grows in power much as expected, and there’s a clever, reasonably fair complication and resolution that ties off all the loose ends. There are in fact a series of mini-endings, with one major climax occurring while you still have 100 pages or so left to go, but to Duncan’s credit, he largely pulls it off. There are some quibbles here and there, but for the most part it all works. I found some aspects a little rushed, and there’s a more obvious setup for the sequel series than I recalled, but by and large this series stands the test of time.
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