How thoroughly depressing. Not just the low note this book ends on - it isn't really a cliff-hanger in any conventional sense, but certainly there seem to be a whole whack of unresolved issues, ambiguities, and general unsettledness. Not just the deaths and departures - some of characters whom I was quite fond, others not so much - and the violence and bloodshed. There's also the depressing matter of how long to wait until #10 puts in its appearance. At least I can be reasonably comforted by the regularity with which Ms Harris has been popping out these books in the past! Not even close to being my favourite in the series, but I suspect it will prove to be a critical episode in the progression of the series. wish I could give it 3.5 stars, but I guess that rounds up to 4.