Sacrificial Flame by Alon Shalev
While I will try to keep this review spoiler free, there are three books prior to this so please be prepared to be spoiled on those. The original trilogy took us on the adventure of Seanchai growing into the Wycaan master to face down the evil emperor. We met exciting new races and loved and lost with the protagonists. (Did an author really kill a main character? Could he actually be so realistic about the harsh world of revolution?) Now we have jumped a decade forward as peace has settled across Odessiya and Seanchai has become a father.
There is a complacency forming as Prince Shayth builds a strong united peoples. Elves, dwarves, humans, and pictorians have had time to heal their diversity and develop a place of acceptance and shared knowledge. The Wycaans have increased in population and opened an academy for any wanting to learn. People focus on healing and growing. It's wonderful.
Then the Emperor pops out of some unknown wasteland with a great (new) race the Taragusii. (Seriously Shalev makes up some of the most fascinating species.) We also get to deal with what really makes a villain. Just because they are the antagonist, are they evil? The Taragusii capture children, but they do not harm them and even show some respect. So much thought provocation on the concept of good and evil in these stories.
While the writing is absolutely mind-bending, the editing can cause some serious hiccups and break the imagery a little. These books could be a serious contender in the epic fantasy category of history without those little snags. There are quests, epic journeys, life lessons, villains worthy of the greats, realistic protagonists, and outstandingly developed races. This and the previous three Wycaan master novels are a must read for YA and adults alike. Go visit Shalev's website for great details and where to buy your copy. (And seriously, these books are $2.99 a piece so no excuses to not get a copy.)