Marking my 190th entry on this blog, as well as meeting my 40 books read goal for 2016. (While I do intend to fulfill my original goal of finishing both trilogies I've been alternating between, there's a great murcky question mark over what comes after. I do have several unread books on the shelf, and I'm pretty sure Kim Harrison has a new series starting. We shall see.)
So what book has acquired these landmarks? Why, Deceptions by Sharon Green, sis, m'Lords and M'Ladies! (Why yes, I was at Ren Fest yesterday. Why do you ask?)
As the middle entry in the trilogy, it has the unenviable task of setting up the finale as well as wrapping up loose ends from its predecessor.
Again, our sextet of heroes is abroad in Gracely, only now, the attacks from within the different factions of Gracely's governemnt are matched by an invading force that the blendings in the provinces can't defend again. As such, our heroic group ride out with the Gracelian Assembly's Blendings to try to take on the invading force. Which essentially turns into the Gandestrian Blending explaining the art of war to the Gracelian Assembly, none of whom have any real strategy beyond "Be the hero, and take over the assembly".
In the meantime, some of the former Nobility sent to rebuild Astinda are learning new lessons. Such as, cooperating and learning are paths to citizenship. This also sees the blossoming of love between Kail and Asri. Asri does have a son, but no husband to speak of. Problem being, as we find out later on, both mother and son are likely nulls, people born without any inherent powers, nor guild powered. (Given neither Astinda or Gracely appears to be aware of Sight magic....)
We also have Driff and his lady love Idresia. Driff is a Middle in Earth who also is a damn good healer. Idresia runs his spy network, which is admittedly more above ground with the new government than it was under the Nobility. Idresia manages to reel in Edmin and Issini almost by accident. Edmin, a member of the former nobility, and son of Embisson, who was stabbed towards the end of the first book, is on the run from the Nolls, who's Spirit magic keeps them manipulating people. Issini, a courtesan, happens to be the one sheltering Edmin. As such, the 4 have now joined forces to try to stop in Nolls.
And one last side project, Honrita, who gets magical psychotherapy, winds up getting her switched flipped even further in the process, joining forces with one of the villains in this series.
All in all, it does a good job at expanding on themes and moving the plot along at a good clip.
The problem is, on this umpteenth re-reading, I can't help but notice a few things that never really caught my attention before. First and foremost is that nowhere in here is there any discussion of the provinces of Gandestria. Have the changes in Gan Garee spread outwards, so that those in other cities benefit? Another question that pops up is how justified is the Gandestrian Blending in more or less rearranging Gracely's government to suit their needs? While they don't exactly overthrow the Assembly, they do violate quite a few of Gracely's laws to better position themselves in the war against the invading force. Our author, not quite as bad about it as say, Frank Herbert, seems to go with the idea that the ends justify the means. And it's not like any of the two governments affected by their interference are exactly strewing the main Blending's path with roses and praises. However, their resistance is at best portrayed by minor villains, and at worst, quickly accepted without much question. Which is, sadly, something that happens quite frequently in science fiction and fantasy stories that involve revolution or government upheaval. I'm not saying this distracts or spoils the story, but it does add another layer onto it.