The Sapphire Rose by David Eddings - WARNING! I cannot review this book without spoiling the others in the series. Read no further if you're planning on reading this series and don't want it spoilt for you.
Finally the knight Sparhawk had come to possess Bhelliom, the legendary jewel of magic. With it, he frees Queen Ehalana from the crystalline cocoon that preserves her life, but Bhellion carries dangers of its own. And now Sparkhawk is being stalked by a dark lurking menace that is only the beginning of his troubles.... From Goodreads
The final book, and an awesome conclusion to what is a pretty great trilogy.
With the Bhelliom in his possession, Sparhawk travels back to Elenia and to his Queen, equipped to cure her from the poison coursing through her veins. Back to perfect health, Queen Ehlana can now take control of her kingdom. But Primate Annias still has his sights set on becoming the Archprelate, and even with Ehlana back in charge, his schemes have already been set in motion. And so Sparhawk the Church Knights make their way to the Basillica at Chyrellos to do what they can to thwart his plans. But Annias' has had renegade Pandion Martel stirring up the peoples of Rendor and Lamorkand, and marches armies to lay siege to the Holy City. Now Bhelliom has resurfaced, the evil god Azash is doubling his efforts to have the sapphire rose fall into his hands with his alliances with Martel.
Oh, how I love Queen Ehlana! What a woman! At only 18-years-old and Queen of the kingdom, she's quick, sharp, and knows how to get her way. She has perfected the art of oration and is a fantastic actress. She can use other's sexism and ageism against them, by planning up to their expectations, and managing to get what she wants. She comes across as girlish and maybe even slightly foolish, but she has a strong and intelligent mind behind her winsome smile, and can talk anyone round. She's a political genius, and just such a strong woman! She also has a wonderful sense of humour, and doesn't pass up the opportunity to take the mick out of anyone.
Another wonder in Flute. Now her identity as the Child Goddess Aphrael, one of the Younger Gods of Styricum, has been revealed, her moments on the page are dazzling. She's small and looks to be around six, but she has a towering personality, and she takes charge of those men in steel like they're the children. Completely wonderful! Also with a wonderful sense of humour, a little more offensive than Ehlana, but absolutely devoted to those she loves - and love our varied group of heroes she does. She's a treasure, and it's no wonder she always manages to get her way. She doesn't make as much of an appearance in this book as she has done previously, but when she does, you can't help but smile. I absolutely love how Eddings puts such strong female characters into his novels! With him putting them in a sexist setting, it's really quite wonderful seeing them come out on top - and says really a lot about his own view of women. I would not be surprised to find out that Eddings was a feminist.
Surprisingly (it's been a really long time since I last read these books), the siege at Chyrellos takes up the majority of the book. Considering this is the last book, and everything must come to ahead - the confrontation with the evil god Azash, and what that will lead to - I kept thinking "How long is this going to take?" while reading. I knew they had to move on at some point, I just didn't know when, or how, or even why. And I was getting closer to the end.
It has been awesome re-reading this trilogy, but now I've come to the end of it, I have realised I remember a whole lot more happening in it's pages than actually does. There is a lot more political scheming, intrigue and plotting to combat enemies than there is actual fighting and confrontation. It's a bit like chess, maneuvering and strategising to stay one step ahead of the other. While interesting and fascinating, with each book hitting aroung the 500 page mark, and expecting a lot more action, I finish this series a little disappointed. My own fault though for misremembering.
Political intrigue is absolutely fascinating, though, and I still love this trilogy dearly! A wonder from David Edding's and his fantastic imagination!
David Edding's Website
My other reviews from the series:
The Diamond Throne (The Elenium Book 1)
The Ruby Knight (The Elenium Book 2)