Review copy provided by the publisher.
This is the third in its series, and you absolutely should not read it without having read the first two. There’s enough to keep track of here if you have a fighting chance of knowing what’s going on from having actually read it; having to guess and fill in why people care about Tain Hu and who Aminata is anyway and…look, there is an entire thread of magic/social connection that’s based on how people relate to each other, you’re going to want to know what the heck is going on before you dive in here.
If you have read the other two books, here’s what you need to know here: this book does not ease up on disgust or treachery. If anything it doubles down. And…there’s a plague that is made much worse by people behaving foolishly. Actually there are several plagues. The plague element is not lessened here. At all. For some of you, that will feel comforting, like the thing you’re living through is being validated by the book; but if you’re otherwise interested in this series and think, oh God, not that, not now, then I advise you to get your copy and hold off a bit on reading it, because there is no dodging a certain contagion-related theme here.
Does it stick the landing, though. I would say yes, yes it does. People behave like themselves, actions continue to accrue consequences at an alarming rate until the very end. Could there be more told in this universe? absolutely. Is this particular story left unfulfilled with pieces hanging? not at all. The empire and its denizens and outliers are all going somewhere in this book, not just wandering indefinitely. The title character has several quite large revelations about herself and her world, she is proven right about some things but not everything, so if you’re a person who hates it when series just ramble on indefinitely, fear not, this is not one of those.