Top critical review
Nobles and vampires and werewolves, oh my!
on September 4, 2015
Aside from Erevis Cale, Tal was the character whose stand-alone novel I was the most excited to read after I finished "Halls of Stormweather." He had the most interesting challenge (trying to find a cure for his lycanthropy), and I wanted to see how he resolved it (if it was even possible). I wasn't totally disappointed, but I didn't feel fully satisfied either.
On the plus side, I felt that Gross did a great job of getting into Tal's head. He made it clear that Tal was struggling to retain his independence, as he had long done with his father. But, he now had to face a number of other people trying to get him to do what they wanted, and the stakes were a lot higher than they were when he was trying to convince his father to accept his acting career. I also thought that his relationship with Chaney was a great addition to the "Sembia" series. I won't spoil his story, but Chaney's struggles bring a different perspective on Sembia's elites to the table.
On the negative side, I would agree with other reviewers that the vampire story was an unnecessary complication that detracted from the larger story. I really would've been happy to see Tal just face Rusk, and the connection between the two stories -- between Rusk and the vampire -- was so weak that it made the vampire parts all the more awkward. (In fact, I'm writing this review a little while after finishing the book, and I can't even remember exactly what that connection was.) Finally, the romance sub-plot felt like a forced addition to a story that aleady had too many sub-plots.
Overall, we do get a resolution (of sorts) to Tal's challenge, but I felt that the story getting us there could've been stronger.