Now, this isn't undying literature--but it's hardly shoddy either. But I admit, for personal reasons, this is my crack. Partly this is because of one character in the book that so strongly reminds me of a favorite character in a certain famous fantasy series. I won't name him, since a great deal of my first shock of pleasure was in recognizing him.
I loved Novik's Temeraire books--dragons in an alt-universe Napoleonic Wars. I loved this one even more. Not just the characters, but I loved the world Novik plunged me into from the first twist on the dragon and the sacrificial maiden tales. There's a heroine to identify with and root for--and she isn't a beauty with purple eyes. There's friendship; there are villains who turn out to be heroes, and seeming heroes who even as villains you feel some sympathy for. There's a dark, well-imagined fairy-tale world--but not the Disney kind--more like the original Grimm tales. And I loved the ending on several levels. This was a delightful and consuming read. A gift from a friend, and a greatly appreciated one--she knew just what would brighten my days :-)
I relished this, I enjoyed it, I'm a little sorry it's over and I have to let this world go. It's "only" a four star because, well, it's not the moving experience the first thee books in the series were--those made me cry--and more than once. Nothing here put me close to that sort of feeling. I'd also say style-wise, every once in a while I'd find myself irked by Carey's cheesy erotica, her penchant for clunky dialogue tagging, and Moriin's constant exclamations of "sea and sky." But there was much to love here. I love how Carey really played with history here. Yes, it was easy to see some parallels with the world of Phedre of the Kushiel books and our own, but more in the generic high-fantasy way. This goes further with the whole story line of "Terra Nova" and an alternate universe meeting of civilizations that--well, that would be to spoil things. I certainly liked the Naaman trilogy better than the middle trilogy focused on Imriel--and I loved Bao more than any Carey male hero. A lush read and a good wallow for anyone fond of heroic fantasy with a strong female protagonist.
Between a three and a three and a half. In a lot of ways routine, not really original nor striking in its style or characterizations, but a fun, light, diverting read. I was never bored, and if romantic fantasy or urban fantasy is something you enjoy, I'd give this a try. At least instead of were wolves we get were-lions, panthers and dragons. And no vampires! That's different. It's apparently the first in a series but it works as a one-off. I liked it enough I could see giving this author another try some time.