Friday, June 24, 2011

Kings of the North by Elizabeth Moon

Kings of the North (The Deed of Paksenarrion)Kings of the North is the second of the books which return us to Moon's world of the Deed of Paksennarion. I certainly hope she decides to let us all hang out there for a while. In Lyonya, King Kieri has entered a rough patch in his relationship with his elven grandmother, The Lady, who won't cooperate with him in the way he'd expected she would to help the elves and men of the kingdom grow closer and work together to defend it against external threats. All of the people around Kieri are urging him to marry and beget an heir, but he's finding it difficult to marry for merely political reasons. The rulers of Pargun and Kostandan have also sent two headstrong princesses for Kieri to "inspect", hoping for an alliance to be formed.

In Tsaia, the new Duke Verrakai, Dorrin, enlists the aid of the Girdish Marshalls to help her cleanse her townhome of evil left behind by its former occupants. Then she must return to her estates with some of her old mercenary cohort and get things in order there. There are still some of the old Verrakien magelords at large, and Dorrin is also charged by King Mikeli to find and neutralize them.

Arcolin wraps up his contract in the South, patrolling for bandits which he suspects are actually a covert army in the pay of Alured the ex-pirate, who intends to rule the world some day. He brings his cohort back to the North, where he is confirmed as the new Count, replacing Kieri. Sergeant Stammel has been left blind by his encounter with one of the body-switching magelords, but Arcolin is loath to discharge his veteran, so he keeps him with the cohort, where he finds tasks that don't require sight to keep him busy. Stammel, however, turns out to be a bit more than anyone bargained for.

When a perceived offense to the Pargunese princess sends its king on a mission of vengeance towards Kieri and his kingdom, things start to get twisty. Kieri has a brief window of opportunity to convince the princess' father that there was no insult, and to stop the invading army. The Parguns have a supernatural ally that has given them weapons of fire which could set the whole of Lyonya on fire, and it will take some supernatural intervention to stop it.

As this is all swirling around, Kieri finds his true love in an unexpected place, and his grandmother's disapproval of his choice may deprive him of his alliance with the elves when things are at their darkest. Paksennarion has followed the paladin's call and is completely missing from this part of the story.

The only thing wrong with this book was that it was over far too soon. Paksennarion fans will flat out love it.

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