This is the third book in the Joust series. None of the books are as good as the first.
Once again human to human relationships ruin the deeper focus of the books.
Where as in book one she creates a complex Egypt like society complete with serfs, slaves and peasants, this book is about an isolated twenty-some people, including Kiron's mentor Ari.
The dragons are based on Lackey's own experience with pet parrot like birds and with the wild birds she works with as a rehabilitater. They have to this point been complex critters instrumental to the stories. In this one they begin to take a backseat to the relationships between human characters. Disappointing as she doesn't do people anywhere near as well as animals.
Lackey also begins to move away from the combat training and other intricacies of her cultures that she does quite well for more religious and other forms of interpersonal communications she, well, stinks at. Not that she hasn't in past books done an amazing job with some of these things.
I feel she did a pretty darned good job with romance in One Good Knight and The Fairy Godmother. Just as she did an amazing job with religious fanaticism in Exile's Honor. All of these we'll get to later.