Reread in September 2011
I have no idea how to rate this book. Hrm.
Okay, a day later. Three of these stories I enjoyed. Shades of Honor I enjoyed a LOT. The fourth...the controversial one...was NOT the story I wanted to read. I read it anyway, for series closure. Or because I'm crazy. Or curious.
It was not the story I wanted to read...but not for the reasons I expected. I think a lot of the spoilers I'd read were unfair to the realism of it. It was an odd blend of stark, brutal unhappiness that I honestly might have enjoyed more without the heart-warming full-circle bits. (Okay, let's be frank. It had its cheesy moments, and they probably seemed more cheesy compared to the gut-punch misery around them.)
It was not a happy ending. It was not the ending I wanted. But it was never my ending to decide, and (for me) it won't outweigh 11 years of buying Anne Bishop books on the day they come out and re-reading them until the mass markets fall apart on me. (Multiple times.)
I don't usually post big long reviews about books, but this one will be sticking with me. I've been reading these books obsessively since Heir to Shadows was a new release, so I've got 1/3 of my life invested in this world and these people.
And I STILL don't know how to rate the book. So for now, it just stays unrated.