I finished Michael Stackpole's The Grand Crusade the other night. I'd like to say that the end of the DragonCrown War Cycle is a slam dunk, but in some ways, it left me with the same disappointed aftertaste it did when I read it the first time.
Part of the reason why is because of Stackpole's lengthy descriptions of battles. I marvel at his attention to tactical detail and wonder how he plans them out so vividly (although I do wonder if maybe he gives us a hint as to how when he said that Alexia based her Dream Raid visions on historical battles, just set in a new location). The problem is that it's so much exposition that it gets a little wearing.
The other problem, and I remember this clearly from the first time I read it, was the introduction of the Oromise as the motivation for Chytrine's mad quest to conquer the world. There's little explanation of her motivation in the previous three books. There's only a hint of the Oromise in the previous. But now, suddenly, we're suddenly awash in backstory that was a little overwhelming. In short, it should have been mentioned or at least hinted at from the very beginning.
But let's be clear. That doesn't invalidate what's good about this book and there is a lot. The final defeat of the Empress of Aurolan comes at a price for our heroes and it all is constructed very well.