This is the fourth book of the series, and the conclusion. Really for truly the conclusion, which gets it big points in my ledger.
As a whole I think this series is well worth reading. While the worldbuilding wasn’t vastly creative, it was different enough that it didn’t bore me. Moreover, it seemed to hold together internally. I very much enjoyed the characters, and found them plausible.
One thing about this that I think is worth mentioning is that the pacing is not what you’d expect. This whole series goes back and forth deciding if it’s a fantasy or a romance. Romance pacing sometimes has people going on for hundred of pages having minor squabbles, easily resolved, as they all get to know each other better. Romance novels that I’ve read are more about deepening relationships than overcoming external conflicts. This isn’t my favorite, but I don’t mind it now and again. Fantasy stakes tend to be higher, with action and death or at least threat of death. Not that either of these are better than the other, but if people go into a sushi restaurant, they don’t want to be served pizza, even if it’s good pizza.
The pacing of this novel kind of plodded along like a cozy seaside romance novel for most of the book. The characters have minor difficulties, but they seem to get over them without too much fuss. I kept wondering when we’d get to the main conflict, or if this was going to be the sort of novel where characters go from point A to point B and gather charming companions but don’t encounter difficulty. I had just gotten my brain wrapped around the idea that this novel had romance-pacing and romance-stakes when suddenly the climax came out of nowhere.
I have mixed feelings about the pacing. On one hand, the rather stolid and plodding plot lulled me into a complacency that made the sudden tense action that much more explosive. On the other hand, I can see how this novel might lose readers who were expecting something a little more conventional. It almost lost me, and might have done so if I hadn’t liked the characters so much.
I enjoyed this series very much, much more than I’ve enjoyed any fantasy series in recent memory. I liked the characters’ interactions, and found the cultural conflict between the farmers and the Lakewalkers to be plausibly subtle and nuanced.