I had to step back from this one before I could write a review. It had ups and downs - places where I could not put it down and others where I felt, "get on with it already!"
I really, REALLY appreciate the fact that the story comes to a conclusion, and does not leave one hanging on anxiously wondering what will happen next to our intrepid hero and his merry band of misfit magic workers. It does keep me in love with the quintet, so I will happily devour the next tale of their adventures.
At this point in the story, the characters are well fleshed out, and the actions that each takes are not really surprising. That being said, I do believe you could pick this book up without reading the preceding ones, but you will miss out on said fleshing.
Again, this story isn't so much a fantasy as a spy novel that takes place in a magical kingdom. I really enjoy the combination - it is quite different from your typical high fantasy.