"It's not what comes easiest that makes us valuable, Katelyn. The wealth of our character is determined by what we push ourselves to become."
As a note, an e-galley of this novel was sent to me via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.
Based on the previous three releases in the series, The War of Princes, we know what is set to come about in this fourth book. Action, war, loss, love, adventure, heartbreak and twists at every corner. If there’s one thing that longtime readers will have learned by now, it is that A.R. Ivanovich has many tricks up her sleeve to delight and shock her loyal fanbase.
Lastland is perhaps the best of the series and showcases Ivanovich’s knack for world building. Following her familiar formula of excellence, A.R. is at her finest when weaving together plots, toying with your heart and allowing her characters to grow even further.
After the startling revelation that Prince Varion had died and placed himself elsewhere to recover, Carmine’s betrayal and Rune having been possessed/taken by one of Prince Raserion’s shadow creations, the war is brewing at an all time high. And Lastland is set to shock us once more as Katelyn and Dylan search for Rune and Varion’s memories begin to come back to him fully.
SAVE RUNE THAYER:
Breaking Rune free isn’t an easy task for the two but they are both more than up for the challenge. It doesn’t come without complications but it is by far one of their more simplistic challenges in this installment. I’ll leave it at that. But when they return to Varion, Katelyn begins to wonder if she and her friends had been used as a pawn in his game.
Although they gained Rune back during their daring escape, the mission came at a cost. There is a shadow creature attached to Rune, refusing to loosen its grip, and their boat is damaged for the time being.
In this time, they are planning ways to end this war and Kat finds herself struggling to resonate with the fact that her childhood friend, Kyle Kiteman, is somehow an immortal prince. Kyle–Varion–insists that he is still the boy she knew, despite his title and changing exterior, but there are many things about this that make Katelyn skeptical when trusting the prince.
I think that this dynamic is my favorite one. Because in so many ways, Kyle and Varion are equal parts same and different. It isn’t an easy change for either person–Varion now has an array of memories from two lives; Katelyn feels almost as if she had watched Kyle die in all the changes. I think that the two have an incredibly lovely and unique friendship and it has its ups and downs in this installment as they try and figure it all out and make an effort to end the war, but it’s a nice read.
Dylan and Rune have a difficult time with many things. Kyle being Varion is only one of them. I think that because they didn’t know Kyle for as long or half as well as Katelyn does, they had an easier time establishing within themselves that Varion is Kyle, Kyle is Varion. Their struggles with that revelation are more dealt within the history that they learned of Varion–which ultimately isn’t who he is.
The two learned a very different and biased view in their homes when it comes down to the history. Varion isn’t good or perfect or bad by any means, he is simply a prince who has live far too long and made many mistakes along the way. It’s all very interesting.
In time, the group works together and extends their protection to Dylan’s brother, who has somehow been crowned king. I won’t spoil that all for you but he basically has his own kingdom at this point and is reluctant in doing so, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned–it’s that he would do anything to protect his people.
As the war approaches, Katelyn and the gang turn to Haven in an effort to protect it. But things have backfired. A lot can change in such a short amount of time and as it happens, Prince Raserion has taken Haven in as his own–nearly destroying the place Katelyn calls home.
A battle ensues. Katelyn is lucky to find Ruby–alive and the leader of a rebellion in Haven. Ruby is still Ruby, but the loss of Sterling and the determination to not lose anyone else is stronger than ever in her. It was said that she wasn’t much of a fighter and all that physically, but her strength must be noted from her reintroduction onward.
I loved seeing Katelyn have her best friend back. Ruby and Kat are the only ones truly left. Kyle is Varion and still alive but it’s not the same. With Sterling gone, it just feels nice to see the two reunited. I missed them a lot. I also liked Ruby and her reaction to all that has happened–including the fact that their best friend is a prince.
The fight fires on and soon, they are in more danger than ever. Rune is dying, first of all, due to the shadow creature who won’t let go. Let’s just settle in on that for a moment and cry.
What else? I’m going to skip ahead and note a few things without completely spoiling the novel.
- When Ruby and Katelyn are capture by prince douchelord. I am sorry that’s what I am going to call Raserion from now on. Prince. Douche. Lord. I loved seeing the two girls work together and when they realize that Dylan hadn’t abandoned them after all.
- Death. There is a lot of death in this series. So much. I don’t need to tell you that, but here we are. Prepare for heartbreak in this one.
- We lose two huge characters and there’s a chance where we may lose two or three more. I won’t spoil who dies, who almost died; not even who survives beyond Katelyn. I don’t want you to lose the experience but I will say I cried more than a few times in the last quarter of the book. But that some of the deaths weren't what they seemed. I'd say survival vs. death is split very evenly.
- Reunions. Lots of reunions.
- Consequences to our actions. Just remember that everything catches up to us sometimes. Varion catches up with himself. Katelyn could be in trouble for having left the outside world to begin with. Dylan's still haunted by his past, as is Rune. They may only come about subtly but it is still there by novels end.
- Unexpected Kings and Queens. King and Queen of two different locations. I was really thrown for a loop on these two but also quite pleased. I'm happy for our heir of Prince Varion and Lord Brendon (that spoils it a bit I'm sorry!) There’s no such thing as happily ever after in a world that war was so prominent but we do end on a happy note. As happy as can be, really, in such circumstances. Beyond the new royalty, we do see our villain bite the dust and loose ends are tied up.
- Dylan is awesome and certainly redeemed himself.
- Rune/Katelyn. 'Nuff said.
- Varion/Kyle's moments with Katelyn; his letter to her and their goodbyes. I'll leave it at that.
- Prologue. Oh, I love it so much! It was so unexpected. I was wondering what would happen with Carmine--it was awfully quiet on her end after the revelation she was a spy.
The War of Princes series is a must read in the steampunk genre and deserves far more attention than it has. While it didn’t tie up every single loose end, it did a great job at wrapping up different plots: the war, the princes, the loss and the gains. History and present. A.R. really thought through everything she wanted to accomplish up to this point and that’s what makes her story so rich and vivid and memorable.
I feel incredibly privileged in seeing characters like Katelyn, Rune, Dylan and Ruby grow and I hope you do too.
Her easy manner relaxed me. “Are you always so calm before heading to a fight?”
“There is no other way to be, Katelyn. It’s our responsibility to celebrate every moment that we have. There is no time for brooding; our lives belong to us, an we must seize every moment.”