I reviewed the fifth book in this series, Heroes Return, last year. I enjoyed it, and I enjoyed this one too. I like this series, which is solid and always interesting.
In this one, Lee and Taro are dealing pretty well with their posting at Flown Raven. Their relationship has finally settled down (and thank goodness). While Lee doesn't love the area, she's made some friends and passes her spare time teaching herself casting.
Then her mother and two younger brothers show up unexpectedly. It seems that when Lee was a toddler, her parents arranged a marriage for her with another merchant family's son. Lee was never told, since when she was discovered to be a Shield and sent to the Academy, all prior contracts were annulled--but the merchant's family is in financial trouble and is grasping at straws. They want the marriage contract fulfilled, whether or not Lee likes it. Lee is horrified enough at the news, but she's also distracted by some senseless attacks on the local people: fires set, fish poisoned, etc.
For years I've been trying to decide if Lee's portrayal as particularly dense when it comes to figuring other people out is something Moore does on purpose or if it's just clumsy writing. I've decided Moore does it on purpose, mostly because in this book Lee acknowledges that she's not good at reading people. That's an understatement.
I like that Lee and Taro have resolved some of the issues plaguing them over the last several books, although I'd have liked to see more warmth between them in this book. I also (as always) want more channeling of natural disasters--it's what attracted me to the series in the first place, what fascinates me most about this world, but it hasn't had a central role in the books for a while now.
One thing that frustrates me in this series is that Lee doesn't take the initiative often, even when she is aware that something needs to be done. That's part of her character, of course, but I still wish she'd be a little more active--or at least voice her worries to Taro, who can do something about them.
Still, I enjoyed this book a lot. I would have liked a little more forward momentum in the overarching plot, but there are a number of small but important steps towards Lee and Taro's conflict with the emperor. Hopefully they'll get out of Flown Raven soon, because frankly I find it almost as boring there as Lee does.
The Book Smugglers reviewed this book recently and had something to say about the cover--notably, that all the Heroes books have terrible, terrible covers. Terrible. I've been saying this for years myself. Please look beyond the covers, because these are fun and interesting books.