TW: Transphobia, transmisogyny, misogyny, war/detailed descriptions of battles and aftermath of torture.
This is a satisfying conclusion to the Tamir Triad, though it does suffer from You Know How It Ends. As well written as the battle sequences are and the final showdown between Tami and Corrin, it didn't have as much tension as it might have if it really was a toss up instead of a predestined certainty. What tension there is comes from not knowing who (other than Tamir and Corrin, and possibly Iya and Arconiel) survives the battle or not. Let me tell you, I was worried about Ki!(show spoiler)
I'm still not entirely sure what to make of the transgender issues brought up through Tobin/Tamir. Granted, this is a land where transgender people simply don't exist, so it's reassuring on one hand to see how easily Tamir's people accept the change. And I totally understand why it would take Ki longer to accept the change and see Tamir as Tamir and not Tobin anymore. I can even understand Tamir's frustration with the limitations and restrictions that come from being a woman, because don't those suck, and that it took her so long to feel comfortable in her new body. The only people who slander Tamir are Corrin and his people, and that's because it threatens Corrin's claim to the throne since Skala is only supposed to be ruled by queens.
On the other hand, Tamir was born as Tamir and was always supposed to be Tamir. Tobin was the "false" persona, the "wrong" gender, even though she was raised believing she was a boy for the first twelve or so years of her life. So was it Tobin who was the transgendered person, who then got replaced with the "real" gender when Tamir's body was "corrected"? It can get pretty dicey when you start thinking about it. I leave it up to trans* readers to decide if that was ultimately handled well or not.
It was pretty great seeing Tamir come into her own, both as a young woman and as a queen. It wasn't an easy transition, and as always I appreciated Ms. Flewelling's attention to detail. A queendom under threat by enemies far and near, after years of droughts and plague was not an easy thing to take over, but Tamir proves herself up to the task, even as she wonders herself if she can do it. And getting to see the beginnings of the Third Oreska and where Reminee will eventually be built was exciting.
As for the narration, this is another great performance by the narrator, and this recording didn't have the sound issues I experienced with The Hidden Warrior. There was some slight confusion on POV during the final battle sequences though. He didn't take as long to pause between POV switches as he did during the rest of the book, I think to keep the tension and the momentum up, but that resulted is sometimes not knowing who's POV I was hearing until a few lines into it.