In "A Stone in Heaven," Dominic Flandry finds friendship, maybe even love, after many years of being totally alone.
After "A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows," Flandry's life stood in ruins. His Emperor, unbeknownst to him at the time, was dead; his sons were incompetent. His love was dead; his son was dead; he didn't believe in his job any longer, and he'd taken out his biggest adversary.
So, what was left? This book shows the answer: plenty.
The younger son of Hans Molitor now holds the throne in his incompetent grasp, and worse, does not like Flandry. So, although Flandry is now a Vice-Admiral and commands much respect, he isn't thrown too many assignments. OTOH, he is able to make his own schedule, so when Miriam Abrams, daughter of mentor Max Abrams (his superior in "Ensign Flandry"), manages to get to him to point out a major problem on Ramnau, he leaves.
Once again, he finds intrigue and lots of it, problems, and pain. But unlike "A Knight of Ghost and Shadows," Flandry this time finds more while he's solving the mystery. He and Abrams reach an understanding, and more or less pair off by the end of the book. He also helps solve her problem, take out a would-be Emperor candidate, and rehabilitate his image with Emperor Gerhardt (the younger son of Hans Molitor) in the process, so it's definitely not a wasted trip.
Along the way, we see an older, almost used-up Chives, still serving Flandry as best he can . . . it's heartbreaking, really, although also encouraging. And Flandry's still hanging in there, despite the loss of his love, his son, and most of his reason for living fifteen-plus years before, which is also a very good thing.
Btw, I was really astonished to find out this book is out of print, when "A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows" is not. Let's hope someone pays Anderson's widow for the rights to this excellent book, so people unfamiliar with Anderson will be able to read it for themselves.
Five stars plus, and highly recommended.