Butcher delivers once again. I bit many a nail waiting for this book, and then many more while reading it. Extensive action and battle sequences in this one, executed fantastically. What I love most about the Codex Alera, however, are the characters. Starting this book was like a family reunion, and sure enough, everyone's there. Tavi, Kitai, Max, Crassus, Magnus and Fidelias are travelling with the Canim to their home world. Amara, Bernard and everyone else is soon locked in deadly battle with the Vord, who have some new tricks and some surprising allies! Isana and Lady Pacida shine in their attempt of brokering a peace with the ice giants that seems impossible.
Once again, the plot is very well executed and never, ever boring - and the pacing is neck-breaking. I had the feeling the author was keen to get this done quickly and to not make it too long. Unfortunately for the enamoured reader, this means that some scenes seem to be rushed, not fully explored, and the whole book ends much, much too soon. (For example, after that hard-won ceasefire at the Shieldwall, Antillus Raucous' armies don't seem to feature enough in the war with the Vord. Or did I miss something? I was so looking forward to Raucous kicking some Vord butt!)
Tavi is awesome again, of course. He has become such a master strategist, and yet he's never blase or obnoxious about it. In all the five books in the series so far, my eyes have not once performed the Gary-Sue-Roll, and that's saying something, considering Tavi is a Hero with an insanely capital H. Butcher does a truly wonderful job with this characters. (Look out for Lord Aquitaine! Huge surprise, and a welcome one.) I was a little disappointed with Ehren's role in this one. Not enough ass-kicking. I didn't think he was made to be standing still. :)
I was genuinely sad to put this book down, and the idea of having to wait another 12 months for the next one is a painful one. Read this! You can't not enjoy it.