Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Limits of Power by Elizabeth Moon

 It's definitely  been too long since I finished the last book written in this series. Had to go back to my review to get back into what had already happened, and I still missed a few things. Lots of character growth and development going on here.

The most obvious "victim" of change is Arvid, the former Master of the Thieves' Guild, who has been marked by Gird for something important. He meets up with Count Arcolin (who has taken over Kieri Phelan's Fox mercenaries) in the south, and works there as a sutler for a time, while studying in one of the granges of Gird nearby. I'm pretty certain Moon is using him to illustrate the nature of Christ's forgiveness and how God works in the lives of forgiven sinners to mold them into the people suited for the tasks he has prepared for them. Arvid remains mystified as to "Why Me?" and what possible use a former criminal can be to a lawful good god, but Arcolin and others have a bit more experience with the process. Eventually, he has to flee north with his son when the guild sends too many assassins after him. But that's probably just where Gird needs him, anyway.

Sergeant Stammel is one whose journey through physical blindness has put him in exactly the spot where the gods want him to be, to save a village from pirates.

King Kieri has a huge mess to clean up after the murder of his grandmother the Lady of the Elves, and the collapse of the Elvenhome with her passing. He can finally also begin to dig into some of the secrets the elves have been keeping for centuries, and start to develop his elf magic gifts, as well. On the more mundane side, he needs to forge some alliances in order to withstand the coming storm when the pirate formerly known as Alured decides to come calling with his armies out of the south. He and his queen, Arian, must also conceive another heir to the throne soon, to replace the one that was murdered by poison, discover the identity of the traitor, and protect his kingdom and family.

King Mikeli also needs to produce an heir, but to do that, he must first find a wife. Plenty of prospects available, but he needs to blend politics and his own desire for a true helpmeet to find just the right one. In the meantime, his younger brother and heir, Camwyn, finds that his unsuspected mage powers are awakening, and he keeps them concealed from his brother and the nobles of the kingdom, fearing the banishment that befell his friend, Beclan.

Beclan is developing well, however, as Dorrin Verrakai's squire, being groomed to become her heir someday, as she has no desire to wed. Dorrin is still weeding out the last of the Verrakai mages and repairing the damage they did to the land and the Duchy.

Arcolin takes the Foxes south for a contract, and in addition to hiring the former thief, he finds out that he is now Prince of the tribe of gnomes whom he rescued after the Dragon cast them out of their stony domain. He has to learn gnomish law and language before he can be effective wearing that hat, but he certainly gives it the old mercenary school try. He also gets a "promotion" to Duke, with the attendant increase in duties.

Paksennarion turns up a couple of times on minor errands, but continues to be a minor player in the drama.

The only downside to this novel is that it seemed Moon rushed the last chapters a bit. The first 90% of the book is full of detailed action, daily routines, long conversations, and covers most of summer and fall, while winter breezes by quickly, with only the briefest of details, in the last pages. I think she's rushing us along to the spring campaign, when Alured of Immer's forces are expected to attack.

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