Taro and Lee arrive in Flown Raven, Taro's family's ancestral home and holding, after being robbed on their in of their valuables, including the harmony bobs. (Significant? Hmmm?) Things only go downhill from there, with mysterious accidents plaguing Fiona and her husband, dealing with Taro's awful mother, Taro's odd behavior and emotional distance, the strain of channeling in Taro's home, and the threat of the emperor's soldiers in the town to arrest anyone caught "pretending" to cast magic, an ability that Lee seems to possess.
Decent pacing and some development for Taro with coming to terms with his past and his mother, Lee in regards to magic, and introducing Fiona and the setting of Flown Raven, where I assume some of the following book(s) will take place, at least in part. But I felt like so much of it was filler, the in between stuff that has to happen for what follows to be sensible and logical, but not terribly exciting or intense, particularly for Taro/Lee. I am still left with a slew of questions, as per the usual, but this time, I have some working theories.
The Emperor wants Flown Raven (with or without Taro, though currently preferably with taro as titleholder possibly because of a deal with the Dowager) and he wants it b/c of its strong connection to magic, the same magic that Gifford is well aware of, but fanatically trying to prevent other people from using. Why? Apart from the obvious,"I'll have all the power?" He cannot possibly hope to contain it from everyone.
Why does Gifford want Lee gone? How? Is it b/c she can cast? Is he threatened by that? Is there something specifically unique about Lee and Taro together
that makes them a threat to Gifford - a rival or obstacle to whatever magical takeover he seems to be plotting? WHY is it so important to get rid of Lee? Why not Taro? Simply b/c of the Dowager? And what is their
The Triple S seems aware of the connection, at least partially, between magic, First Landed, pairs and the fact that pairs may have the ability to cast. Why hide that fact from the pairs? Depending on where they were raised and where they become stationed, some are going to find out sooner or later.
The Dowager is also aware, it would appear, of Flown Raven's importance, either from living there so long and realizing it and telling Gifford or she may have realized it from Gifford. Either way, I say she knows and that is part of why she is so obsessive about getting Taro in control of it b/c she knows it will be important. However, is there something important about Taro and Flown Raven? Some blood connection, etc.? Again, why is she really trying to get rid of Lee? (And will she go to further lengths?)
Magic and channeling both connected to....?
Apart from bad, bad memories and being near the Dowager, all understandable causes of Taro being very upset and moody, he seemed unusually and distressingly different. We see a new aspect of Taro's personality here. (Or a very magnified one.) He is very unhappy, moody, depressed, restless, suspicious and jealous of Lee, unkind towards her and far from as affectionate as he had been in any of the prior books. No mention of any calm or comfort given through a touch, at all, which is in sharp contrast to the other novels. Is his distant and strange behavior merely b/c of the Dowager and the house where he was basically imprisoned as a child? Or was/is there more to it? (As in, at risk for insanity?)
And Lila? She probably had zero chance of actually making it out from under that rock before it crushed her, but did Taro intentionally keep her buried? If so, was it b/c he was afraid Lila might reveal Lee as a caster to the guards?
Lee and Taro are basically out of sorts with one another for the whole book. Lee is not sure, in the end, how she feels about Taro any longer due to his behavior over the past weeks, as well as what happened with Lila. He was not at all trusting of her (though, she probably deserved that for all the grief she gives him), jumping all over her for talking to Reid, acting like Lee does not value him. He sees himself as unintelligent. Is that why taro was so mad on the island and now here, when his necessity to Lee is less, where her attention is elsewhere? Is he truly worried by that? He surely does not act like it, but something someone said, maybe Lee's mother, about why Taro acts the way he does around other people is nagging at me - I'll have to look it up. His behavior here is far more calculated to drive her way, which is in wild contrast to his behavior from book 4.
But right now it is all so contradictory and confusing. We do not know if the Dowager will really leave them alone, if Taro will go back to normal, if Lee and Taro will remain together, if the spells allowing their channeling to work will continue to be efficacious, how the whole magic returning/world healing is going to play out, what Gifford's real goals are, esp. with that spell at his coronation, the illegality of casting, what Lee and Taro may be capable of, what about Aryne, Taro's hatred of Flatwell, the significance of Lee and Taro's unusual talents, particularly Lee's ability to cast and influence weather, Lee's connection to Taro (not mentioned here), etc.
In book six I would love more action and more emotional character development between Lee and Taro, both as a couple and as individuals.
Check out this recent interview with Moira: http://us.penguingroup.com/static/pages/specialinterests/scifi/2010/moore-qa.html