The final entry in the Healing Wars series, honestly at the rate I've been reading the books I didn't think I would be able to find a copy of this until next year, and then the first week back at school I saw a copy in the school library and oh-so-causally snatched it up to check out. Not much else I can say to introduce the book so let's see if this series ends well or if it falls and burns.
Darkfall by Janice Hardy
Summary: It's time and past for Nya and her friends to return to Geveg where a rebellion is once again underway and to try to find her sister. Armed with more knowledge of past and too much experience with fighting Nya is willing to help make a final, desperate push against the Duke to help free all three of the kingdoms from his maniacal schemes.
The Good: Well I won't keep people in suspense, yes I think this was a pretty good end to the series. It takes the concept of "healers as fighters/generally dangerous people" a bit farther still and managed to keep a large part of it's cast from the first two books still involved. One thing I did like, and I think it's not too spoilery to mention, is how even by the end Nya is not the overall leader of this growing revolution, recognizes that she wouldn't be a great leader, and doesn't really want to be one either. The epilogue hints that she will become a leader later in life but considering how young she is (no more than 16 by the end of all of this) I'm really glad Hardy chose not to go that route and it felt much more true to Nya's character this way.
The Bad: The book unsurprisingly is not perfect however; there are some character deaths which felt completely out of left field to me and one character ended up feeling a lot like a expy of River from Firefly by the end*. The epilogue felt a little too neat to me but that's more personal preference than an actual failing of the story (especially since you could cut it out and it wouldn't affect the story at all). Nothing too unexpected happened, aside from all of those deaths everything had been well-foreshadowed I thought although some people might disagree with me about the climax (which kind of involved a deus ex machina but honestly it didn't really feel like one to me, more like the characters just got ridiculously lucky which is a bit different).
Overall I was quite happy with how this story ended and rather happy with the series as a whole. As a whole I would give the series four out of five stars and plan to buy copies for myself someday. Darkfall came out in 2011 and I'm not certain if it would have made my top books for the year list (simply since I can't remember what else I read that year off the top of my head) but i thin it would have been a strong contender for my favorite five books of the year.
*and after typing that I now wonder if the author is a Joss Whedon fan....