Exile's ThroneDisclaimer: I consider the author a friend; however, I purchased a hardcopy of this book for full price.

Mason concludes her stunning space opera trilogy with absolutely nothing you expect, which makes this book all the more perfect.

Since I’ve started reviewing every book I complete, I’ve gotten into the habit of taking down random thoughts as I read. I read this book in one sitting on a flight between Baltimore and Salt Lake City. But some books suck you in and don’t let go. Afterward, you look up with a massive book hangover and the only reasonable action is finding the nearest human and shoving the book (or series) at them and demanding that they read it too. So, consider this the online version of that.

One of my favorite aspects of this book is that the main relationship development is no longer between heroine Kayla and her paramour Malkor. They have settled into a strong partnership between equals that becomes a pillar of the book rather than a focus. Instead, Kayla must resolve the issues between her and her twin brother Vayne, who is also one of the book’s point of view characters. At times, his character arc was even more interesting than Kayla’s.

Despite all the fascinating tech, this book always revolves around the characters, their interactions, and their politics. As I wrote in my opening, the narrative makes interesting and unexpected turns that kept me on the edge of my (airplane) seat. The tech undoubtedly plays a role, but it never verges into deus ex machina or MacGuffin territory. It is always in how the characters use the tech that drives the story forward.

After all, good space opera uses science fiction to show us things about our own society and lives. I adore the universe that Mason has created for her Empress Game trilogy and would love to see more of these characters or this setting. But she’s such a good writer and storyteller that I’m excited to keep up with anything she comes out with next.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

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