The third and final adventure of Imriel de la Courcel manages to be both thought-provoking and compulsively readable, with underlying themes of redemption and love. Imriel faces each and every challenge thrown at him with aplomb and panache. The villains are a bit cartoonish, but Imriel and Sidonie's love for each other and their country shines through to the glorious end.
The only hope they have is for Imriel to locate his mother, the treacherous Melisande Shahrizai, and bring her to justice. As he prepares to do so, his carefully laid plans are thrown into turmoil with the ascent of a power from overseas -- one that doesn't shy from the use of magic when persuasion doesn't work. (Grand Central, Jun., 653 pp., $26.99)