Friday, March 16, 2012

Echoes of Betrayal by Elizabeth Moon

The worst thing about this book is that, like many pleasures, it's over far too quickly. Moon is just so readable, and her characters so loveable, that you can get into it for hundreds of pages, and lose hours of time without noticing it.

Echoes takes up where Kings of the North left off, with King Kieri cleaning up the mess after the Pargunese invasion of Lyonya. Kieri and Arian announce their betrothal at the Midwinter festival, and waste no time conceiving an heir to the throne. The bones of his ancestors, though, whisper dire warnings of treachery and betrayal, and the mood of his grandmother, The Lady, seems quite mercurial, easily changed by circumstances.

Arvid Semminson, the Thieve's Guild enforcer whose life was changed when he help Paksennarion to escape the tortures of the priests of Lyart, begins the novel as a captive of the Master of the guild in Valdaire, but with the intervention of Gird and the help of his gnome companion, Dattur, manages to get free. He returns to the city masquerading as a minor merchant, seeking a slow revenge, but somehow gets involved with Kieri's old cohorts, helping to protect the secret ways of the gnomes, gets a small bit of fame for helping to defend the inn where he's lodged against an attack by the guild, and eventually succumbs to Gird's hold on his life. The final bit of dialogue between Arvid and the Marshal almost sounds like a christian apologetic, which I found intriguing.

Dorrin, Duke Verrakai, rides to the border to help defend against the Pargunese, leaving her squires to gather more troops behind her, and to join her later. Unfortunately, two of the three encounter renegade Verrakai along the way, and one, Darian, ends up physically crippled, while the other, Beclan Mahierran, ends up confined by his own family and King Mikeli, under suspicion of being possessed by their evil. Darian is partially healed by the Kuakgan, but his kin distrust the "green" magic that saved him, while Beclan discovers the taint of magery in his own blood, and ends up exiled by the king and his family for it.

Things are mostly quiet with Arcolin, who has taken over Kieri's mercenaries. The blinded Sargent Stammel makes a bargain with the dragon, and gets a mission in life in return, and a group of exiled gnomes are given a home in the hills near Valdaire.

Nothing new on the southern front, but rumors are brewing that an invasion from that angle is coming soon. Alured may have gained possession of one of the powerful relics of the Verrakai house, and will certainly use its powers in his grab for more power. It's good to know that Moon has left lots of room to write in this new series.


Unknown said...

I've never given Elizabeth Moon a chance, despite having a few of her books on my shelf. I just haven't know enough people who've read her . . . thanks for putting her back in my TBR pile.

Jon said...

Hey Bob! Moon's fantasy stuff is wonderful, but I personally think her all time best novel is the stand alone Speed of Dark.