I received an ARC copy of this book, but this in no way affects my review. This review is voluntary.
Elemental Conflict takes a different approach than Steel’s previous works. This book focuses almost entirely on Ilan and Anst as the events from the previous two books start coming to a head. The action switches between them and two other characters from Elemental Affinity. I enjoyed the increased focus on Anst and Ilan, and the switch between them and the Affinity characters was done well.
This book does a decent job of explaining what happened in the earlier novels and how it relates to Ilan’s current situation, but there are a few small holes. Reading the earlier books in the series does make things clearer. Plus, they’re good books and you should read them anyway.
Since much of the story revolves around Ilan and Anst learning to deal with and coming to terms with what’s happened to them, it’s important that the interplay between the two works. Elemental Conflict delivers on that front. Neither character overshadows the other, and they have good chemistry together. Anst does fade into the background a little from time to time, but he definitely gets his moments.
The pace does change a little abruptly near the end. Presumably, this sets up the next story, but the sudden shift back into cloak-and-dagger politics at the end felt a bit out of place after the climactic event of the story.
Overall, Steel’s newest release was a great read.