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All Is Fair: The Split Worlds - Book 3 by Emma Newman
Review by Drew Bittner
Angry Robot Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780857663269
Date: 24 September 2013 List Price $14.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Misguided into an act of treachery, William Iris is now Duke of Londinium. His wife Catherine, dragged back into the world of the fae courts by Lord Poppy, seeks a more permanent escape, despite some terrible setbacks. Meanwhile, a grim Arbiter and his gargoyle partner close in on answers to their own mystery, while a widower makes his own inquiries into his wife's demise.

Such is the setting in which <>All is Fair<> begins.

When we left our heroes, Catherine was under a nearly insurmountable obstacle--a curse from her new patron to make it impossible to touch any man but her husband. She also was subjected to the tyranny of her brutal mother-in-law, whose goal was to break Catherine's spirit and make her a suitable wife for her son.

In Bath, Sam moves to uncover secrets behind his wife's untimely death, which leads him to make an alliance of sorts with Lord Iron. This alliance pays unexpected dividends, but ends up pulling Sam far deeper into the affairs of the Split Worlds than he could have imagined.

Elsewhere, the Arbiter Max and his better half, the gargoyle who holds all of his emotions and humanity, struggle with the erratic and increasingly dangerous nature of their Sorcerer, Mr. Ekstrand. He claims to be making moves against their many enemies, as well as finding out why the London Arbiters are hopelessly compromised, but Max suspects that the Sorcerer's agenda may hide potential treachery.

William Iris, Duke of Londinium, has enemies on all sides. Everyone knows that he betrayed a close friend (and rival) to gain his position; now those birds are coming home to roost, as the man's family and friends seek to depose William by any means necessary. His life in danger, he must determine which (if any) of his circle he can still trust, after discovering the treachery that led him astray.

The only hope for all of them lies in a revolution--one that will overturn the status quo of the Split Worlds forever, breaking the rules and perhaps leading to a civil war. But if any of them are to be truly free, great chances must be taken and a throw of the dice made at the last.

Emma Newman has brought her story to a rousing crescendo in this installment, which is clearly not the end of her story. Catherine's plans to achieve her own freedom run into a wall, yet the way through is clever indeed and her discoveries--especially about herself--feel entirely organic and well-established in the narrative. Likewise, William evolves from being an amiable sort to a political player with everything on the line. He's nobody's puppet as the story races forward, but where and how he cuts the strings will please the reader greatly.

Sam gains not only an understanding but also a bit of justice here also, with the ability to thwart faerie lords such as Poppy with impunity. The Sorcerer Ekstrand also plays his cards at last, revealing a stark choice for Max and his gargoyle.

In all, this book is full to brimming with the things that endear Newman to her many readers: a Jane Austen-style romance of contradictions, bound together with magic and a society that is stifling with its rules, wherein young people yearn only to be free. It's a great concoction and readers will surely demand more.

Recommended.

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