Stonking listen, and a howling shame this novel isn't available in hardback. Criminal!
My signed paperback is a new 'precious'.
Perfect narration and writing to bring Thomas Piety to life again, you pick him up and keep going. Then feel miffed, you have to wait and that's a good thing. Damn hard to press pause...
This Piety (obviously) feels more mature, he is also at a loss between completing his interim governorship and no longer running the Pious Men. You also 'get' Ellinburg is about to be left behind, with Joakim seeming sane and a clearing the air with his aunt, that was a seriously emotive scene. You get several glimpses at the man and a few more nuances to what drives him.
Dannsburg also feels like a sewer, and Piety seems to be establishing himself well thanks to Vogel, and you spend the bulk of the book wondering when it will explode. It doesn't quite go that far, events and governance quickly ramp in in tension and while there are some loud bangs it is a slow burn of simmering tension.
Part of me wonders if it is a case of splitting a story in two. There is plenty of tension and buckets of fear, with Vogel and co having very large webs and a vindictively poisonous bite. The climax is nasty and terrifying but doesn't have the end of book satisfaction of a hard fought victory as the previous books do. Instead it sets up book four with a nation to play for, opposition gutted and best laid plans either going like clockwork, or adapted on the fly. How Thomas Piety, Bloody Anne and the others might extricate themselves, or survive what is yet to come. Piety is fearful and that should say everything. It is easy to see the yawning revelation of just what a predicament being a Queen's Man is, and the depths the organisation will sink to, but there is a glimmer of hope in the intrigue.
Arguably the most solidly written series around at the moment.
Book four cannot come soon enough...