Book Review: Fortress of Eagles and Fortress of Owls, by C.J. Cherryh

Harper/Prism
Fortress of Eagles
335 pp.
Fortress of Owls
394 pp.

Fortress of EaglesFortress of Eagles is so transitional, it might as well be cut into halves and stuck to the end of Fortress in the Eye of Time, and to thefront of Fortress of Owls. Eagles mostly addresses the veryaftermath of the events of Eye, where Cefwyn has returned to the capitol of Ylesuin with his fiancé Ninévrisë,Tristen and Emuin and plans for war. Owls continues the story, and adds existential angst for Tristen, who technicallyspeaking, is less than a year old..  

Fortress of OwlsTristensoon gets himself in trouble with the kingdom’s official religion. There isalso a great deal of animosity directed toward him by the nobles of thenorthern provinces. Cefwyn is determined to win over the northern provinces andwith the Quinaltine church, so he brokers various deals and sends Tristen offto take care of the south and Amefel. Cefwyn is determined to win over hisnorthern provinces to the idea putting Ninévrisë back on the throne of her country, and cannot afford to have a Tristen around, so he puts Tristen incharge of Amefel.

Tristenis accompanied by Emuin, who is to act as an advisor (though he is extremelyreluctant to do so).

WhenTristen reaches the Zeide, he discovers that the Viceroy Cefwyn appointed hasdone a variety of things that are wrong and less than smart. In retaliation,most of the Amefel nobility had decided to have an insurrection. The dissidentsare willing to work with Tristen, but the Viceroy decides to hold a massacrebefore taking off on a horse that Tristen had bought for Uwen. (Tristen is ableto recover the horse.)

Tristenhas various adventures with trying to get food for the villages, figuring outexactly how much money the previous Duke had in the treasury (and how much waswasted on solid gold plates). Emuin is dragging his feet on giving any adviceto Tristen he can actually use, and a certain ghost is making pronouncementsthat Tristen is the prophesied King Who Returns. In addition to a Destiny thatTristen couldn’t care less about, Tristen is experiencing some existentialangst. He had been Summoned in the spring, and now it’s winter, so now he’sworried that since wizardry follows patterns, that he’ll die when it’s springagain.

Itturns out that the various nobles that were trying to gain control of Elwynorhave all settled behind a man named Tasmorden, who is possibly allied withHasufin, or at least, is a wizard or sorcerer of some ability. He is attemptingto infiltrate Amefel, and possibly has allies among the Amefel populace,including Orien and Tarien Aswydd, the sisters of the previous Duke.

Back inGuelessar, Ninévrisë is navigating the Mean Girls Club (various noblewomenmaking up her court), while getting ready for her wedding to Cefwyn. Meanwhile,the various northern lords are jockeying for position. One of them decides toaccuse Ninévrisë of sleeping around with Tristen–which is kind of ridiculousconsidering Tristen is…Tristen. Despite the obstacles, Cefwyn and Ninévrisëare able to get married.

Variouspeople are worried about some of the changes that Tristen is bringing toAmefel, such as building fortifications and working on bridges to cross theriver into Elwynor…and accepting refugees. Cefwyn is more or less confidentthat Tristen is doing what has to be done, and Tristen is able to send word onwhat he is up to. Of course, more trouble occurs when a Quinalt priest inAmefel and a number of the Dragon Guard that Tristen sent home (as well as afew deserters) all show up in Ylesuin’s capital and start causing trouble overTristen and the things he’s doing to secure Amefel from possible infiltrationfrom Tasmorden, who is currently claiming to be the prophesied King WhoReturns.

Politicalintrigue and the change of Efanor from suspicious and angry to more sympathetictoward both his brother and toward Tristen is a big part of these books, aswell as the interactions between Cefwyn and his advisors, and Cefwyn and Ninévrisë.There’s also the interactions between Tristen, who feels that Emuin isn’thelping very much, and Emuin whose reticence to offer advice is a combinationof fearing to get involved with whatever Mauryl and intended, and a desire toforce Tristen to think for himself.

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1 Comment

Filed under book, C.J. Cherryh, fantasy, non-earth, political intrigue, Review: Book

One response to “Book Review: Fortress of Eagles and Fortress of Owls, by C.J. Cherryh

  1. WCG

    It's a very minor detail in the story, but I loved the part where Tristan suggested selling the gold plates to buy food. For some reason, that still sticks in my mind.

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