This starts off slightly before the tail end of _Scout's Progress_ and follows the development of Aelliana and Daav's stunted lifemating. With Ran Eld "dead" and no on else to really be Nadelm and so forth, Birin would like to make Aelliana at least do all that work if not actually have the title. WHICH IS RIDICULOUS. Birin is another Petrella: she doesn't actually make any sense. If she were even remotely better behaved, she'd get way more of what she wants (Kareen is the same, altho not nearly as over the top). But, you know, villains. Gotta be villainous.
Mizel is very backgrounded for the first chunk of the book, but then shows up to put pressure on Aelliana and Daav: sues to kinstealing. Where being lifemates pretty much checkmated (er) Petrella (Anne Davis didn't have a clan to get in on the political action), here being lifemates doesn't actually resolve the Clan-specific issues. And, of course, Kareen has to try to disrupt things by PROVING how EVERYONE is going to have CONTEMPT for Aelliana. Yeah, Kareen. Sure. Queen Bee stereotype much? Mary Sue action ensues, right down to Daav thinking repeatedly, Aelliana conquers all. (No, really.)
Once the lifemating issues are resolved and shopping has happened and Samiv is maid of honor (not precisely) at the impromptu ceremony (AT KAREEN'S PARTY TO MAKE AELLIANA LOOK BAD. Because.), you would sort of expect the end of the book to happen fairly shortly, but no, it does not. We still have to (had pregnant woman visiting gangster) (cute kids playing in ways that foreshadow their adult selves in chronologically later but publication order earlier books) kill Aelliana off to make one final point about lifemating, which is Aelliana will live on in Daav's head, even after he "dies" and goes off to live Kiladi's life.
I was not real impressed with that ending. YMMV. I'm on pause for the moment while I try to figure out how to deal with this. I still kinda want to know what happens to Val Con and Miri, tho, so I will probably be back. I'm just gonna go read about distributed energy generation and pricing reform for the grid for a while.
Oh, and Daav is just about the worst King (I know, not really) ever, in terms of his obliviousness to major political movements both on and off Liad. He spends way too much of his time hanging out at the spaceport reliving his glory days as a pilot, or getting more degrees as his alter ego Kiladi. (Apparently Kiladi shows up in chronologically later but publication order earlier books. Hmmm.)