Friday, April 15, 2011

Kings of the North - Elizabeth Moon

Kings of the North
Elizabeth Moon
Del Rey
Copyright: March 22, 2011

The product description:
Elizabeth Moon returns to the fantasy world of the paladin Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter—Paks for short—in this second volume of a new series filled with all the bold imaginative flights, meticulous world-building, realistic military action, and deft characterization that readers have come to expect from this award-winning author. In Kings of the North, Moon is working at the very height of her storytelling powers.

Peace and order have been restored to the kingdoms of Tsaia and Lyonya, thanks to the crowning of two kings: Mikeli of Tsaia and, in Lyonya, Kieri Phelan, a mercenary captain whose royal blood and half-elven heritage are resented by elves and humans alike.

On the surface, all is hope and promise. But underneath, trouble is brewing. Mikeli cannot sit safely on his throne as long as remnants of the evil Verrakaien magelords are at large. Kieri is being hounded to marry and provide the kingdom with an heir—but that is the least of his concerns. A strange rift has developed between him and his grandmother and co-ruler, the immortal elven queen known as the Lady. More problematic is the ex-pirate Alured, who schemes to seize Kieri’s throne for himself—and Mikeli’s, too, while he’s at it. Meanwhile, to the north, the aggressive kingdom of Pargun seems poised to invade. 

Now, as war threatens to erupt from without and within, the two kings are dangerously divided. Old alliances and the bonds of friendship are about to be tested as never before. And a shocking discovery will change everything. 
Kings of the North is the sequel to Oath of Fealty, which came out last March. I honestly have to admit, I was already looking forward to the release of this book the very same day the last book came out. Before I say anything else about the new book, I have to say the same thing holds true for the next book, title unknown for now.

Elizabeth Moon's latest series is set in the same world as The Deed of Paksenarrion, and takes up where that book leaves off. Where that book followed Paksenarrion almost exclusively, the new series has a larger number of viewpoints, including Arcolin, Dorrin and Kieri, although there are a number of others and we learn some very intriguing things about some of the other characters backgrounds.

I've been reading Elizabeth Moon's Paksworld blog for the last year or so, and that was full of tantalizing hints about Kings of the North and future books. I'll gladly say that the various tidbits she's posted there just whetted my appetite for this book. But, when I was reading the book, all those bits just came together wonderfully. Full of "now I know what she was hinting at" bits. And the book itself is incredible. I couldn't put it down at all. Ended up staying up past two or three a.m. several days running so I could finish it.

There's trouble between Kieri and his grandmother, the Lady of the Forest, trouble which has the potential to affect the whole kingdom. Pargun is causing trouble, but is it all intended? or, is there something else going on? Kings of the North has lots of threads running through it from Oath of Fealty, such as the royal regalia, but also a number of new threads too - or not new exactly, but originating from the original book, the Deed of Paksenarrion.

For all there's more than twenty years between the first book and this one, there are some moments where no time seems to have passed at all, such as the "This is a mule" speech from Paksenarrion's training in The Deed of Paksenarrion, and the "This is a crossbow" speech on page 125 of Kings of the North. That just had me cracking up as it was classic Stammel at his best in my opinion.

Definitely a book I'm going to love reading again at some point in the near future, but I'm feeling as though I need to re-read the other books in this world first. Highly recommended! There's a reason Elizabeth Moon is one of my favourite authors. It's because all her books are so well written and captivating, both her science fiction and her fantasy novels. Kings of the North is right up there with all of her others.

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