This book started out painfully slow. It took me a while to really get into it, but then it starts to explain what hadn't been explained in the previous books. I'd have to say that it's probably the best in the series so far, but it's still lacking something that I just can't put my finger on.
There were a couple of things that I found annoying about this book. I don't really remember if there were any grammatical errors in the first two, but I kept getting thrown off by them in this one. Also, I think that these books would be improved a lot if the author would "show rather than tell." Towards the end of the book, it seemed like the author was just trying to get it over with and completely stopped describing what was going on and just stated it.
Just some random thoughts: I thought this book started to get a little predictable. I knew Dimitri was going to die as soon as he got his fortune told, so that "surprise" was taken away. What did shock me though was Lissa's reaction to Rose leaving. I kind of wanted to be like "Well, it's about freaking time, Rose!"
Rose is having a dream about making out with Dimitri. Soon, she realizes that the lips on hers are not Dimitri, but Christian's. She shakes herself out of Lissa's head and decides to go get some air. Dimitri finds her out after curfew and decides to sneak her back into the dorm after some small talk. Before he can get her into the building, Alberta, the school's lead guardian, insists on talking to Dimitri. Rose is hidden in the bushes and overhears their conversation about Victor Dashkov's trial. She is upset that her and Lissa aren't going considering they were there for the whole ordeal. Just before she goes back into the dorm, she sees Mason's ghost.
The novices are excited about their field training experience where their instructors act like strigoi and attack their assigned moroi. Rose is confused when Eddy is paired with Lissa. She becomes outraged when she learns that her moroi is Christian. She approaches the instructors, insisting that they made a mistake. They explain to her that they think this exercise will make her a better guardian. On her way out, she runs into Adrian, who is staying on campus to study spirit with Lissa.
The first day of the assignment starts out good for Rose. Eddy goes to help a couple of novices while Rose stays behind to guard Lissa and Christian. She even starts to get along with Christian throughout the day. However, later that evening Rose is attacked and has to protect two moroi, Christian and Brandon, on her own. She sees the attack coming, but completely freezes up when she sees Mason's ghost again. The teacher is furious that Rose did nothing to protect the moroi. Because of this incident along with Rose's earlier outburst of frustration of having to guard Christian, Rose is forced to be evaluated. She doesn't know what to tell them because either way, she'll seem either crazy or incompetent. Rose decides to tell them that she just froze. They find it hard to believe but decide to give her the benefit of the doubt after Dimitri speaks for her. She is on probation and has to do community service.
Rose decides that the best way to find Christian is to seek out Lissa. She uses the bond to find her in the Library. When she arrives, Lissa is mad at Rose for supposedly throwing Christian to the wolves. Christian seems to be the only one that believes her right away.
After church on Sunday, Rose stays behind to help the priest for her community service. Dimitri volunteers his time as well. As they are sorting through things, the priest offers Rose more books about St. Vladmir and his shadow kissed guardian, Anna. She turns them down for now and asks about ghosts. The priest explains that some think that people that died young or violently can stick around the Earth for up to 40 days. Rose and Dimitri go to drop off a few boxes at the middle school and Rose meets Jill. Jill seems to almost worship Rose and asks Rose to teach her how to fight because a couple of royal boys have been getting beaten up. Rose is saved from getting herself into trouble when Dimitri reappears and scares Jill off (she thinks he's hot). On the way back, Rose gets angry at Dimitri because he can't get her and Lissa to Victor's trial.
Rose is back on guardian duty for Christian. She follows him to the feeder room and soon after, Lissa shows up telling them to pack their bags for court. The get on the plane and Adrian turns to talk to Rose. Eventually, Rose gets so frustrated with him that she ends up screaming at him. Alberta comes over and she ends up swearing in her explanation of her outburst.
At court, Rose watches in on Lissa when Queen Tatiana wants to talk to her. The Queen is impressed with how forward Lissa is with her ideas. Adrian takes her to the 24 hour bar and she promises him two drinks. Rose thanks Dimitri for getting them there, but he tells her it wasn't him. She meets up with Eddy and Christian, who are talking with Mia. They decide to go for coffee where Lissa and Adrian later join them. Lissa and Christian have an argument that Rose ends up yelling at them both for. She goes outside and thanks Adrian for getting them to court.
Rose receives a note from Victor saying that he is going to spill the beans about Rose and Dimitri's lust session. They go to see him, but that proves fruitless. At the trial, Dimitri lies and says that the charm was for anger rather than lust. Rose repeats this when she's on the stand. Victor does say something about the two of them together, but no one believes him.
Before they are supposed to head back to school, Queen Tatiana invites Lissa to live at court when she graduates. She also offers to send her to a prestigious college. Lissa really wants to go to a larger school with a really good reputation, but accepts the offer anyway. The Queen then asks her to send Rose in. When Rose arrives, the Queen tells her to stop her affair with Adrian. Rose tries to insist that there isn't anything going on, but will not be heard. Tatiana eventually reveals that her ultimate plan is to get Lissa with Adrian. Rose decides that it is in everyone's best interest if she just keeps this information to herself.
Lissa takes Rose for manicures and massages. Lissa makes sure that her masseur is the Queen's secret lover, Ambrose. Rose isn't sure how she feels about the whole situation, especially when she realizes that he is also a dhampir. He offers to take them to a fortune teller and Lissa gets excited, hoping that it is another spirit user. The lady tells Lissa that she will be a great and powerful ruler. Rose, feeling like she gets ripped off, is told that she will kill the dead. Dimitri comes in to collect them for the plane trip home and also has his fortune read. She tells him that he will lose that which he treasures most, so to cherish it while he still can.
Aboard the plane, Rose starts getting cranky again. The pilot is not able to land at the school due to icy conditions and decides to stop at a nearby airport. When the plane touches ground, Rose starts seeing ghosts again. This time, she sees all of the recent deaths she has experienced. Then she sees Lissa's family who is pointing at a dark space, insinuating that she should be there with them. She yells for Mason to make them stop, but still can't seem to communicate with him. She passes out.
Rose wakes up in the school infirmary. The doctor, Alberta, and Dimitri are all there and worried about her. The doctor explains to the other two that she thinks Rose is going through post traumatic stress. She thinks that she needs to be pulled from the field experience project and start counseling. Rose, overhearing the entire conversation, speaks out against this. Eventually, they are able to come up with a compromise where she will guard Christian part time and start counseling. Dimitri walks her back to her dorm and on the way, she tells him about the ghosts.
Once back at her dorm, Rose realizes that she left her things in the infirmary and heads back. She notices Abby Bodica is there with bruises and starts talking to her like she knows what's going on. Abby, surprised that Rose seems to already know about it, mentions the word Manos. Rose is shoed out by the doctor and goes home to sleep.
The next day Rose decides to tell her friends about the ghosts, but asks them to not talk about it in depth just then. Rose, Eddy, and Christian watch Lissa and Adrian practice spirit. Lissa starts to show Adrian how to heal a plant for the second time and she starts getting a dark spot of emotion. Rose wishes it away, but now Adrian is looking at her funny. On the way back to the dorms, Adrian hangs back with Rose while she is far guard. He tells her that the darkness in Lissa's aura was moved to Rose. Something in Rose's head clicks and she drags Christian along with her to talk to the priest. She asks Father Andrew about what happened to St. Vladmir's guardian, Anna. He tells her that she was also going crazy and committed suicide after he died. She returns Christian to the dorms and starts heading back to her dorm to make curfew when she sees Mason again. This time Rose is able to communicate with him, but he is only able to answer yes or no questions. She finds out that he's not there for revenge but not much else before he fades away.
Rose starts her counseling. She gets really annoyed with the Moroi asking her so many questions. She is sent home and told to think about a few things. Does she resent Lissa for always having to put her first? Does she only love Dimitri because he's unattainable, making sure that she doesn't have a relationship that will distract her from Lissa? On her way back to the dorm, Adrian catches up with her. She asks about Mana and he tells her that it is a secret society for Moroi. It is mostly a group to help them feel better about themselves, but they usually have a common goal.
On Sunday, which is supposed to be the novices’ day off of their field work, there is an attack. Rose finds that the drunk novice she was talking to is completely useless. She ends up talking down three of the teachers, including Dimitri, by herself. Rose goes to get cleaned up while Lissa goes ahead to dinner. When rose joins her friends in the cafeteria, she sees that Christian and Adrian are fighting about Queen Tatiana’s plan to hook up Lissa and Adrian. They are eventually able to come to an agreement. They all notice that Lissa isn’t with them and Rose uses the bond to find her. Sensing that her best friend is in trouble, she starts running toward her. As she’s running, she sees that Lissa is being tortured so that she’ll use compulsion, a sort of initiation into Mana. Rose gets there and Lissa is using compulsion on Jesse (the leader) to make him think there are spiders all over him. Rose takes the anger from her and goes completely crazy. Dimitri pulls her off of Jesse and has to drag her to a cabin in the back of the woods to stop her. They realize that life is too short to put everything on hold and they sleep together.
As Rose and Dimitri are walking back towards the school, Mason appears to Rose and warns her that the school is about to be attacked by strigoi. Dimitri holds them off so that Rose can warn the others. When she reaches the dhampir dorm, she is given a silver stake and told to watch the second floor. She slips into Lissa’s head and realizes that Christian is either in the chapel or somewhere between there and the dorms. Rose decides to go make sure he’s safe. They end up taking down some strigoi and decide that they can be a help in this battle. The guardians end up holding back the strigoi, but they get away with some people, including Eddie. Rose talks to Mason to find out where the strigoi are. She and Dimitri tell Janine (Rose’s mother) where they are and she speaks up at the guardian meeting. She also brings up the points that Rose tried to argue: some senior novices should go and some moroi should go. After some deliberation, they all agree.
When they get to the cave that the strigoi are hiding in, Rose is supposed to wait outside in case any get out. However, when Emile decides that he’s going to send in a guardian. He hesitates before he sends Rose with him. They fight their way out with the other guardians, but Dimitri is attacked. He is dragged into the cave by several strigoi and Rose tries to go after him. Janine holds he back, telling her that he’s dead.
Rose approaches Lissa about healing Dimitri, even if he’s dead. Lissa says she can’t do it, but finally realizes Rose’s feeling for him. Rose and Lissa watch the line of bodies that the guardians retrieved from the cave. When Dimitri isn’t present, she runs to ask Mason about him. Mason confirms that Dimitri is strigoi.
After having a week to think everything over, Rose decides to leave the academy. She hands in her paperwork to withdraw. Lissa confronts her about her decision and isn't happy about it. Rose explains that she needs to do something for herself for once, not just for Lissa like she always has. Saying her final goodbyes to Mason, she heads off to find and Kill Dimitri.