Book Review: Oath of Fealty, by Elizabeth Moon

Del Rey
469pp.

Oath of FealtyThe Deed of Paksenarrion is one of my favorite high fantasy trilogies. If you play fantasy role-playing games with paladins in them, I’d like you to seriously consider reading this trilogy (and possibly also Oath of Swords by David Weber) if you want a handbook on how to run a paladin.

The original trilogy borrows a great deal from Tolkien but has its own unique world and setting. (It also has a very strong “feel” that these characters and the story were based in part on a campaign. You could almost see everyone’s alignments, levels and classes in lights above their heads. This is not a bad thing; it was just something I noticed.)

I was extremely excited when I heard about Oath of Fealty because I always felt that the story needed some sort of continuation. (I did like the prequels, but I feel that the earlier history is a different story and an entirely different country from the story-present.) I am glad that the writer apparently the felt the same, because Oath of Fealty met and in some cases exceeded my expectations.

(I also thought it was too short at 469 pages. It’s a sad thing when you try to read slower because the book might end. I want sequels now please!)

The story opens not long after the events of “The Deed,” where Paksenarrion ultimately defeated the followers of Liart to protect Kieri Phelan her former commander. We see the fall out of everything that had gone on before, and the gathering of forces as the new story begins. While Kieri tries to figure out how to be king and gets ready for his coronation, one of his senior officers has to figure out how to fulfill a contract for the mercenary company and run the duchy.

Things get even more interesting when members of the Verrakai family–who’ve been using blood magic to enhance their “magery” attempt to kill the crown prince of Tsaia. Which in turn leads to Dorrin, another of Kieri’s officers (and a Verrakai who was disowned by her family because she ran away) being declared a duke and ordered to turn in the rest of her family–something she is more or less willing to do, even though her family scares her to death.

There are some great moments here, though I tended to prefer the Kieri and Dorrin sections to the Arcolin sections. I also found some aspects of the wizardry versus magery versus god-given powers to be confusing and a little frustrating. (Which may be partially attributed to not having read the original trilogy in years.) We never really got a clear definition or why wizardry is acceptable while magery is considered evil. (In story it’s because the mage lords were generally abusive assholes, which is why the peasants eventually revolted, however the wizards allied with Liart are also assholes, but no one is really saying that wizards are evil.) I would have liked some variety of training montage as Dorrin learned how to use magery that she hadn’t used very often since she was a child, and was blocked from using for most of her life.

This was a great book, and I can’t wait to see a sequel!

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Filed under book, Elizabeth Moon, fantasy, non-earth, paladins, Review: Book

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