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Sunrunner's Fire (Dragon Prince #3) by Melanie Rawn
"Sunrunner's Fire" begins a year after "The Star Scroll" ended, on the night of Andry's accession to the position of Lord of Goddess Keep. During the ceremony (which they change because he really isn't ready to take the position, but he's the best that they have available at the moment and they have high hopes that he will be ready someday), he has a vision of war coming to the continent. In his vision, Radzyn has been destroyed and thousands of people are killed. The men he sees doing this are all bearded, but Andry can see that beneath the beards, they have the chin scar of the Merida. Since the Merida and the diarmadh'im have an alliance, this leads him to the conclusion that the war will be conducted by the diarmadh'im, and he sets out to prevent the war from happening by killing as many of the diarmadh'im as possible. This may not be the wisest move that Andry has ever made.
One of my favorite scenes in this series is in "Sunrunner's Fire." The time comes for Ostvel to give Alasen her wedding ring. One of the things that didn't seem really explicit to me until then is that the Choosing ritual is more of a handfasting than a wedding. The partners are given a year to decide if they want to stay together, at which point they exchange rings. Among the Kierstian nobility, however, the higher-ranked partner gets a second year to think about it. Though Alasen was born a princess, after her marriage, she is outranked by Ostvel. As a result, Alasen had given Ostvel her ring at the one-year mark, but he hasn't given her his yet; and he can't find the ring. This whole scene is sweet and adorable, and one of the reasons why, years and years after the first time I read these books, Ostvel and Alasen have emerged as my favorite couple in the series.
One of the scenes that makes me want to throw the book at the wall takes place when Pol is around 20. He is having a great deal of uncommitted sex (not to judge people who do, but that has never been a particular interest or even a fantasy of mine) and he walks out on a conversation with a friend, almost in mid-sentence, when one of the girls he's banging turns up. The friend in question is Sionell, but the fact that she has carried a torch for him since they were small children doesn't really factor into it for me. I just think that, unless the friend says, "Go for it, you old dog, you!" or something to that effect, you shouldn't go off to get laid in the middle of a conversation with someone you purport to have any kind of positive feelings for. I stay angry at Pol for this for quite some time. In fact, I'm actually not quite sure I ever completely get over it.
Meanwhile, we see more of Ianthe's two eldest sons, one of whom has taken to killing dragons for fun. Sorin and Riyan are sent out to catch the killer and they find a critically wounded dragon. It doesn't take long for them to realize that this is not the dragon they were sent out to find, because the one they were sent out to find would have been dead for days by then. So they realize that the killer is going to keep killing dragons until Rohan and/or Pol comes out to investigate. They make the dying dragon as comfortable as possible and Riyan weaves it to sleep, knowing that it will die in its sleep.
The plot of Sunrunner's Fire is Pol's coming-of-age story. Pol is targeted by Miyon of Cunaxa the same way that his father had been by Roelstra during his first Rialla as a reigning prince. However, the daughter that Miyon wants to have bear Pol's son and then become Pol's widow is an apparently gentle, shy young woman named Meiglan. For some reason, no one can believe that a daughter of Miyon could be that sweet and gentle, but watching her father torment her in public, slowly they come to realize that she is. Or is even the abuse an act?
Pol also comes into the knowledge that he is Ianthe's son, and thus diarmadhi on his biological mother's side. He then ends up having to bring down his two remaining half-brothers.
Overall, there's a lot to love about this book. Ostvel and Alasen, Rohan and Sioned, watching Sionell fall in love with her husband, Tallain. There's also things that make me want to throw something, like Pol being an ass (but at least it keeps it interesting). Andry's story arc makes me (and will, through the next trilogy continue to make me) want to read the book while peeking from between my fingers -- I don't want to watch, but I can't look away.