It’s hard to keep track where the story is at with these last three books as for some reason, they bundled up the last three in one tome instead on individual books. (Amazon assures me that there are individual copies available, but I have my doubts as the series is hard to come by as it is.) Honestly, the heft of this one makes me yearn for a parallel world where Nix got to fully explore and fill in the details of Aenir and the Castle and the Icecarls. I don’t know if the relative shortness of each book is a result of Lucas Books intervention or if Nix just didn’t have the drive to really expand the world.
That said, nothing happens much of note happens in this installment of the series. There’s a lot of sitting around and talking bits, which was a screeching shift in narrative compared to how fast paced the first three were. And a lot of these discussions revolve around rather heady philosophical debates that are a bit incongruous to the eight to ten year old core audience that the series appears to be aimed at.
First is Milla, who has, through no fault of her own, acquired a shadow spirit, which is anathema to Icecarl beliefs. Milla is not determined to make it back to the Crones, to tell them of the potential second shadow war and everything she learned in Aenir, and then “give herself to the ice”, which is a nice euphemism for suicide.
Then there’s Crow and his band of freedom fighting Underfolk (the servant class of the Castle). Crow’s a new addition to the story, although he did have his first appearance in an earlier book. And he turns out to be just as obnoxious as Tal, teaching kids the valuable lesson that zealots usually don’t have friends because they have no concept of talking about other subjects.
Finally the book ends on yet another cliffhanger, this time with Tal thinking that he’s just murdered four people, including his beloved uncle.