I'm almost tempted to put this one up to four stars... but not quite. Definitely the best in the series with some excellent character development showing the very human aspects of the main characters. There were also some genuinely interesting characters side characters that I enjoyed reading about.
It did, however, still have an air of predictability and not quite enough action and adventure. While Tamora Pierce has certainly built up the characters of this series it can in no way match any of her others which are in my opinion, epic.