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    Great finale but needed higher stakes

    War of Storms, as a series finale, checks all the big boxes. It ends it in a satisfactory way, there is a big battle, there are threads tied up, problems raised over the course of three books were resolved, characters grow, lose some, gain some, etc. It is an expansive book, taking the squad from Ryogo, to Jushoyen, then back to Itagami, and promises an epic showdown between Khya and Varan, as well as a resolution to the exile of Itagami residents. I liked that they addressed the issues of their society, made changes, forged peace between warring communities, and challenged the Ryogan way of heteronormativity. When the book began, things seemed dire for Ryogo – Varan had arrived with all the other Miriseh in Ryogo, burned down a city, and proceeded to march onto the capital. Khya and her squad had to devise ways to save Ryogo and implement their plan to kill the Miriseh to free their fellow kinsmen from their manipulative hold. Their work is cut out for them, as Ryogo is unprepared for war, their kinsmen have generations of being devoted under their belt, and they are a small squad of people, of whom only two are immortal. So, they work to keep themselves one step ahead of Varan and hope to catch him in a trap and end his life. This journey is long, and arduous and the characters go through so much, facing loss of their friends, trying to balance the risk of involving people in a plan they haven’t even formed fully. Khya, particularly, battles with the responsibility placed on her when everyone looks to her for guidance and protection; even though she had trained as a leader, she had never imagined her skills would be put to the test at such a young age. Also, being an immortal, trying to find new limits to her physical body, to her magical skills, all those are things she has to test during an oncoming war, and her heart, which wants to save as many as possible is the key element here. She fears for her friends and the risk they are taking following here, but she also is able to achieve all these feats because they are backing her. It did seem, though, at some points, that there weren’t high stakes – for the group; Ryogo was definitely at risk of being annihilated, but the squad was not really in danger for the most part. As for their allies, even they were not in danger as long as they were with them – except for that final battle. Speaking of that final battle, the real danger came way too late in the plot to be an effective threat; I felt that Varan employing that tactic earlier could have raised the stakes for the squad. Overall, it is a great finale to an amazing series!

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