I guess it goes to show that sometimes I -shouldn't- listen to reviews on here (GR). This has remained my favorite lgbt fantasy series, and I soared through the first three books. However, I took a long break because all of the reviews on Amazon and then most on here were very discouraging about book 4, written a decade later.
I can understand some of the disappointments, but I didn't think it was quite all that bad at all. Maybe I was just in a very patient mood. The writing did seem more YA-ish compared to the first three (though the content isn't really YA), and I'm attributing that to the fact that her writing quality suffered from the ten year break. It's unfortunate, but it wasn't a stark difference and it didn't detract from my investment in the story. And I think it's still eons above the average MM writing (maybe not a good standard to hold to). These are still the same beloved and engaging characters, Alec and Seregril, after all.
This book was really their most grim adventure, as they are separated from each other and subject to levels of abuse (nothing too explicit or bad) for most of the book. The previous books showed off extensive world-building, with them traveling to interesting and far-off lands. This book had a claustrophobic setting, so I understand the frustrations some people had with the pacing.
For me, I didn't mind the fact that compared to the first three books, the action level was very low and their relationship took a bigger focus here. I saw this as a transitional book. Important things happened that finally made sense of the rest of Alec's strange prophecy. Plus I loved the introduction of Serahn-true, he was supposed to be creepy sometimes...but his child-like innocence made him at once pitiable and absolutely adorable. His powers were also really intriguing. At the end of the book, I was left eager to see how he would affect the dynamic between Alec and Seregril and what consequences they will have to face now. Book 5 is already loaded on my phone.(less)