Monday, August 27, 2012

The War God's Own by David Weber

Saving us the details of a potentially tedious voyage, this book takes up the saga of Bahzell and Brandark again as they arrive at the port of Belhadan. They are greeted at the port by a knight probationer of the Order of Tomanak, Vaijon Amerhas of Amerhas, a remarkably conceited young nobleman, though he is a well-trained and formidable fighter. Vaijon has a difficult time believing that any hradani has been made a Champion of Tomanak, and expresses his displeasure through most of the pair's stay at the chapterhouse in Belhadan. Sir Charrow, head of the order, does not have a problem with Bahzell's elevation to Champion, though some others within the house to, but Bahzell squelches that problem at just the right time, and those who disagree with the War God's change of policy are roundly chastised. Tomanak also bears somewhat more personal tidings for Bahzell, telling him that at long last the Rage that has plagued his people has undergone a genetic change, and that those hradani who chose to control it, rather than to be controlled by it, will be able to do so.Bahzell also benefits from his visit by getting a thorough grounding on the background of the Order (as do we) from Sir Charrow.

When his task there is done, Bahzell and Brandark journey to the dwarven city of Axe Hallo, taking Vaijon along with them as the logical next step in his training as a knight. Upon arriving in Axe Hallow, they are greeting by their old acquaintance, Wencit of Rum, who escorts them to the Temple of Tomanak in the city, where they are introduced to the Knight-General of the Order, Sir Terrian, and also to Bahzell's fellow Champion, Lady Kaeritha, a human whose induction into the ranks of champions probably caused as much consternation as the hradani's own.

While in underground metropolis of the dwarves, Bahzell once again meets up with the merchant, Kilthandarknarthas, who escorts him one day to an impressive weapons and armor manufacturing plant. There he explains that the Empire of the Axe has determined to support his father's bid to unite the clans of hradani under one rule, and that he will supply Bahnak's men with the best equipment, at a reasonable cost, with the expectation that the peace he will impose will be good for trade and prosperity. Bahzell agrees to take the message back to Hurgrum to deliver to his father.

After arriving in Hurgrum, it becomes obvious to Bahzell and his companions that something must be done to root out and destroy the worship of Sharna in Navahk. They mount a dangerous expedition in the dead of winter to attack the temple in that land and kill or capture the Scorpion God's followers. They run into more of a battle than planned when a centipede demon is raised against them, but together the two Champions and the young knight, Vaijon, are able to prevail. A huge diplomatic furor arises upon their return, and in the resolution of that affair, Tomanak creates the first chapter of his order that has ever existed on the Wind Plains.

The Order's troops remain behind to guard the women and children when Bahnak finally departs to force a reckoning with Churnazh. A foolish young warden of the Sothoii, horse lords from the upper plains who have a traditional emnity with the hradani (Bahzell's clan is called the Horse Stealers, after all), decides this is the perfect time to invade, and the handful of Order troops are called on to stop the incursion. The cavalry arrives in the nick of time, and it appears that Bahzell will be off to visit Balthar, home city of Baron Tellian of the Sothoii, probably to build even more alliances for his father. Looking forward to Wind Rider's Oath to find out what happens next.

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