You can see my incoherent comments on the first book here
and the second book here.
So we open Book Three with Fitz pretty much practically DEAD.
That's just how fucking bad things have got for Fitz.
The thing that's kind of telling about this first trilogy is how short it is. I mean short in fantasy in terms. Short compared to the enormity of the next trilogy. Not actually short.
But I think this is where the first hints of bloat are discernible.
When your themes are failure and loss and compromise and sacrifice ... you kind of can't really afford to take THIS LONG to wreck your characters' hopes and dreams and sense of self.
However however however: the pay off, I think, is definitively worth it. The fantasy-resonances of what exactly Verity is doing while Regal fucks the Kingdom six ways to Sunday are fantastic, as is the human element to it. The grandeur of it.
But the book basically ends with Fitz, alone again, practically exiled, except for his wolf. Honestly, it's kind of perfect. Not ecstatically triumphant, maybe, but right and fitting considering the trajectory of the serious. Melancholy but not wrist-slashingly awful.
I would honestly have been completely happy if this was where the series ended.
In fact, in my head it sort of is.