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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
The Great Hall was a scene of chaos: shards from a broken cage, a hole where the emblem had been, a crumpled rug, broken doors, and bloodstains. Mages gathered, frightened, and one lay covered in a cloak, his body charred. This is not how Eminent Mage, the third book in the Mage and the Bird Caller trilogy by Kaaren Sutcliffe begins, but it is a taste of the explosive twists the finale delivers along the way. Fugitive mage Everand and his partner Lamiya test Guild rules while protecting the half-mage Malach. The arrival of dragons alters Riverplain's fate and a rush of tension rolls through the Guild. Conflict is coming, and grave sacrifices will have to be made. Ever the negotiator, Lamiya works on multiple fronts when harsh penalties are levied, and as powers are drained, another comes from an ancient source, the Staropal. With it is a mission, one which the dragons warn will have consequences if the quest fails, and that can very well change the structure of the Guild indefinitely.
Kaaren Sutcliffe's the Mage and the Bird Caller trilogy was a long time coming for me, but having finally devoured Eminent Mage I am so glad I stayed the course. There is a scene where Everand is at a crucial moment in the water, and he recalls the beginning of his mission and his initial encounter with Lamiya. As a reader, this came as a full-circle moment, and it was somewhat emotional. It became more so as the outcome of the scene came to light, but knowing the author's skill to elicit this at the drop of a death bolt, the hurt was not a surprise. The writing is excellent and the worlds built are completely immersive, from the most cramped confines of a horrific cage to the sprawling landscape. The book ends with all the loose ends and overriding questions that have dangled through the series tied up nicely, although Sutcliffe makes her characters work for it, and for us, it is all the more satisfying. I do see many different directions the world can go from here, whether Sutcliffe chooses to or not, as there are so many characters who can stand on their own with backstory, namely Akachi. An excellent end to a brilliant trilogy. Very highly recommended.