Windsinger by A F E Smith (Book 3 of the Darkhaven series)
Ayla Nightshade prepares to meet with the Kardise ambassador to sign a treaty between Mirrorvale and Sol Kardis. However, negotiations are halted as the ambassador is discovered dead in his chambers, poisoned by the same bottle of taransey he and Ayla had shared the night before.
Ayla has been framed for murder and the peace between two kingdoms is at stake. Tomas Caraway and his Helmsmen must rush to prove her innocence before war destroys all they have fought for.
Along the way they discover the plans for a Parovian airship, the Windsinger, which reveal a chamber designed for a special cargo: a living one.
Together Ayla and Tomas set out to uncover their real enemies – a search that will lead them closer to home than they ever anticipated.
If you haven’t read the first in this series, Darkhaven, please do. Then read the second (Goldenfire). Then read this. It’s suspense, mystery, war…Smith broadens the world beyond the confines of Darkhaven’s city walls, plunging the city into the middle of international politics and showing what having a Changer as ruler of Mirrorvale really means. It’s got some unexpected twists, and the end is definitely tense – I wasn’t in any doubt over the outcome, but there’s always a knife-edge moment of “will they…will they?” that makes the story brilliant. There’s some moments of brilliant humour as well – how do you keep a baby quiet when you’re in the middle of a fight? – and some proper pangs of “ohhhhh”. It’s an excellent read.
I absolutely love the way this world and series has developed – the world is unique, unusual, yet familiar enough that we settled in without questions. The characters are fabulous; I love seeing them develop and change over the course of the books, and now – well, no spoilers, but we get to see more of the background and history of some of the inhabitants of the castle, and more of the new recruits that joined the Helm. I’m loving Ree’s development and seeing her progress through the Helm, and her difficulties in this book are in a bit of a different area to the ones she’s used to dealing with!
I’m hoping that we see more of Lewis Tarran amongst other characters – I want to see more of the children, too, as Wren in particular looks like she’s going to be quite a challenge. There’s also a fun development at the end involving Naeve Sorrow which looks like it could provide some entertainment…
If you enjoyed the rest of the series then this is an excellent next book to carry on with, and I’m looking forward to the continuation!