This book is one of my all-time favorites, and that's in spite of (view spoiler)[the devastating ending (which I wish Canavan would re-write!). There were definite possibilities for it to go in a different direction. Maybe the author didn't want it to be predictable, in which case she succeeded. Maybe it needed to end this way for some purpose to be revealed in the follow-up Traitor Spy series. Or maybe tragic endings are sometimes better for the quality and the emotional impact, whether we enjoy it or not. Whatever the reason, it was absolutely gut-wrenching. And although it haunts me, I will read this again.
I almost prefer the Age of the Five series because it has a happier ending (I highly recommend that one as well), but this trilogy taken as a whole is just fantastic. I'm really excited to read the Traitor Spy Trilogy (waiting for all 3 books to be out before I start). I'm just hoping it will help heal the gaping wounds left by this one! (hide spoiler)]