Why didn't the publisher leave this as the 1,000 paged tome it was intended to be? Why split it into five parts? I think if this had stayed the 1,000 paged epic fantasy that the author had intended then it really would have worked. But, as it is, this is split up and the ending literally jarred me from the book. I think it's really safe to say that this book has no real ending.
That's upsetting for me because, as a reader, I felt extremely dissatisfied with the turn-out. However, I really think that the publisher had more to do with this than the author. I am hoping the second book has a more complete ending.
That being said, this is an enjoyable read. I would say this is more of a high-fantasy-lite feel and romance-heavy-but-not-smutty. There is a huge
portion of this book dedicated to Rain and Ellysetta's mating and courtship and basically consists of them mooning over each other and not really being able to do anything about it. I would have liked to see more world-building, considering the tensions rising up in the North and the whole is it the Eld or the exiled Fey causing such a ruckus? We, the reader, know, but the characters don't.
There was a decent amount of politics interwoven into the story and I was grateful for the reprieve from the main character's courtship. The problem was that every time a political-whatever was happening all the reader got to hear about was Ellie moaning on and on about how she's not pretty enough, not graceful enough, not polished enough, not-whatever-the-hell-enough. She was so whiny at some points that I really just wanted to jump into the book and throttle her. Have some confidence, ladies!
Rain isn't really a fleshed out hero, either. He basically has three qualities: protective, loyal, wild. I felt like there were no layers to him. Even though he had gone through such tragedy during the Mage Wars, even though he'd been alive for over a thousand years, he could have been any other alpha male romance lead and that felt really disappointing.
I did, however, like a lot of the side characters, like Kieran and Torel and pretty much Ellie's entire family. I also really liked the character of Queen Annoura. I thought her character was executed almost flawlessly. At first, I thought she was just some sort of jealous queen trope, but when you realize that her emotions are being manipulated, you really don't know what to feel about her. I also loved Dorian's character. He is a good and honest king and wants to do what's in the best interest of his country and his people.
I really think that the main flaw in this book is that it was originally intended to be a huge fantasy story and the character development probably developed over time, along with other, more political/world-building aspects. Because of that, I am definitely going to give the next book a-go. I would recommend this for romance lovers, mainly, and fantasy lovers, secondly.