Flanagan, John. The Emperor of Nihon-Ja. (Book 10)
While learning battle strategies and trying to broker a treaty between the people of Toscana and the people of Arrida, Halt and Will and Alyss become concerned about the whereabouts of Horace and George, who have traveled to Nihon-Ja to studying Senshi fighting techniques. The two, who have befriended the emperor Shingeru, decide to stay and help him when other Senshei groups, headed by Arisaka, lead an uprising against the emperor because he is trying to make life better for the common folk. Evanlynn arrives with ships, and the Rangers take off to find Horace and help him. With the additional help of common citizens along the way, the group is able to settle themselves at a mountain fort and train in order to defeat Shingeru's enemies.
Strengths: My children, who are Risk players, love all of the military strategy in this. Toscana is a thinly veiled version of ancient Rome, and even I noticed some Roman fighting techniques. The conclusion of some of the romances is appreciated, as is the fact that Evanlyn and Alyss are the ones who kill the vicious snow tiger. What Ranger wouldn't want a girl like that to marry?
Weaknesses: While I liked this series very much, and have four books of most of the series, I am just as glad it's over. Any series beyond five books becomes a bit formulaic.
Delaney, Joseph. Rage of the Fallen. (Book 8)
John Gregory(the spook), Tom,and Alice make their weary way to Ireland in this latest adventure. While they are able to defeat magical creatures new to them (jibbers), they also run afoul of the local goat mages, are followed by Morrigan, and lose Alice to the Fiend's clutches. With the help of Grimalkin, John and Tom are able to bind the Fiend, but when they hear that the war in the County is over and head home, we get the feeling that there are still many more issues resolved.
Strengths: I always enjoy these. They are fast-paced, and the interworkings of good and evil are fascinating. Tom is still in danger, Alice slides a little more to the side of evil, and the spook backs off more and more to let Tom come into his own. Actually bought this one because I couldn't wait until August.
Weaknesses: The final battle with the Fiend was rather anti-climatic. This, of course, sets up a huge expectation for the next book.