Del Ray, May 2003, 26.95, 496 pp.
Elven trained Aydrian kills his stepfather, exiles his mother Jilseponie, and declares himself king of Honce-the-Bear. With his large army King Aydrian leads an attack on the elves, who manage, through a huge sacrifice, to defeat him.
In the south, Behren is dissolving into a series of petty city-states. Brynn, elven trained, liberates her country of To-gai from invaders with the help of the dragon Agradeleous. However, she also shows the Behrenese people that their religion is based upon a lie, opening the way for Aydrian's ally Abbot Olin to fill the void.
The broken Jilseponie is stunned with what the elves have done and caused, but though she wants to nurture her long lost son, she also needs to insure the true heir, Prince Medalis, sits on the throne of Honce-the-Bear. While the elves struggle to survive from the taint they caused, Brynn and Jilseponie join forces to take down a teen they both love.
With the final act of this incredible saga, R.A. Salvatore makes a case that he ranks with the best fantasy writers of the past few decades. The key to this novel and the previous tales is the world building skills of the author that makes Corona a complex orb with varying cultures, magics, and religions. The characters, mythological or mundane, all seem authentic with the key ones sharing a tragic stage that sends the audience empathizing with their dilemmas. This novel and series is simply great epic fantasy.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner