Few Authors out there dare to kill their main protagonist, even in the GrimDark sub-genre of Fantasy. To do so in the first book of a trilogy, and keep him dead in the second (Spoiler: For half of the book) requires huge cojones. Now, to do all of these and succeed in doing so... that requires a talented author. And Thomas R. Gaskin is exactly that.
It is only natural for a writer to improve his work with the passage of time. A future work may lack some (or all) of the elements that hooked you up in the first place, but you can't deny that the author has matured and stepped up his game. What is not natural is to experience such an improvement in the length of a single book. Search of the Lost began as a three star, old-school and classic fantasy story, and finished as a perfect five, tragic and darkly-hued tale with well-laid plans gone chaotic and hopes grounded to dust.