I’m long on record as getting a lot of enjoyment out of ‘s work, and Hands of Flame is no exception. It’s a fine conclusion to the Negotiator Trilogy, bringing some resolution not only to heroine Margrit’s relationship with the gargoyle Alban, but also to the humans close to her. Played off against the more personal relationship is the development of her station among the Old Races, with whom she has gained enough status that they’ve given her a new name: The Negotiator.
There’s some good solid intrigue here as Margrit is hauled in to mediate a deal between the selkies and the djinn–and at the same time, she’s pushed by the dragonlord Janx into trying to destroy her own brand new employer, Eliseo Daisani. Margrit is forced to delve into the history of these two longstanding rivals, and with Alban’s help, uncovers a secret neither the dragon nor the vampire knew.
The pace is fast; a lot of the time on the way through this book I found myself going “wait, what? Wait, what? Wait, what?” and having to process things I read twice. But this is not a bad thing. Just be ready to handle a lot of plot details thrown at you very, very quickly if you take this one on! And for gods’ sake, make sure you’ve read Books 1 and 2 first, else you will be very, very lost. Four stars.