Relentlessly advancing towards Collegium, the Empire is again seeking to break down its walls. The mighty imperial armies have learnt from their failures, and Empress Seda will brook no weakness in her soldiers. However, Stenwold Maker has earned his title, and the War Master has strategies to save his city. His aviators rule the skies – but the Wasp Kinden Empire has developed a terrifying new aerial weapon.
Yet the campaign may be decided far from marching armies and the noise of battle. In an ancient forest, where Mantis clans pursue their own civil war, the Empress Seda is seeking lost magic. Some dangerous shadow of old night is locked up among these trees and she is wants its power. Cheerwell Maker must stop her, at any cost, but will their rivalry awaken something far deadlier? Something that could make even their clash of nations pale into insignificance.
As my need to rely on the official blurb might signal, I'm not able to review this one. It isn't because it was bad (it wasn't!) or because I don't think it is a legitimate contender (it is!), it is simply because this is the penultimate volume in a long-running series. It doesn't stand alone, but nor is it meant to. Since I've not read the previous books, I'm in no position to say what's going on or what this means.
Voting is over, but if you're looking for a few good thoughts on War Master's Gate for comparative purposes - a very glowing review at Fantasy Book Critic (which, gratifyingly, also reinforces that this should be read as part of the series) and a generally positive and slightly-spoilery one from Superior Realities - the latter seems more handy for those already familiar with the series.
But I've got airtime to fill, so let's talk about this predicament for a second, shall we? Why is not being able to judge this book interesting? And what does this situation mean for awards in general?