Book Review: Kings of the North, by Elizabeth Moon

Del Rey
478 pp.

Kings of the North
Order on Amazon.

In this sequel to Oath of Fealty, the characters are still adjusting to the new situations instigated by Kieri Phelan having become the king of Lyonya and Dorrin having become Duke Verrakai. We also have indications that all is still not well in various quarters, and the activities of a pirate who would be king (or at least Duke) are beginning to cause trouble elsewhere. On top of that we learn a great deal about Pargun, the machinations of various evil gods and a little about dragons. (I think the dragon is probably one of the best parts of the book.)

Much of the story revolves around Dorrin, who is still “cleaning house” and stumbling onto more horrible traps and evidence of the evil magic that had been practiced by her family. While Dorrin is trying to root out the last of the evil, she is also creating Crises of Faith left and right among the Girdish religious hierarchies and granges. ( She’s definitely creating massive brain derailments to the tune of, “Okay, Mageborn are evil. Dorrin is mageborn and therefore evil, except Falk likes her and thinks she is shiny, Gird doesn’t seem to have any problems with her being mageborn and she is doing a very good job of vanquishing evil wherever she finds it–but mageborn are evil, argh!”)

It also revolves around the crown and ring that had been found previously. People are trying to find out what these artifacts are supposed to do, and are currently in the keeping of the king of Tsaia. Said artifacts are very bossy, and are very, very insistent that Dorrin should be wearing them. (Except they are obviously royal regalia and there is no way in heck Dorrin is going to commit treason, so the magical objects are basically doing the magical royal regalia version of whining and sulking and begging for attention.) Then it turns out that a necklace that Paksenarrion has found may be part of the mysterious regalia, and we have a brief adventure with Arvid the Thieves Guild member who is not a thief. (He’s a chaotic good fifteenth level rogue, okay?) Our favorite not-a-thief is going to be offering his testimony and witnessing of the events surrounding his contact with Paks, and he finds out that a dwarf wants to steal the necklace–this results in a Very Difficult situation for poor Arvid.

Next, we have Kieri in Lyonya who is still trying to get used to being king. While he is getting used to being king, his grandmother is being incredibly stand-offish and will not tell him what’s wrong. (And one suspects that this is more than elves being squirrelly and enigmatic.) The ones who are talking to him are all of his advisors and their near relations, who would Really Like for Him to Get Married and Have an Heir and as Many Spares as Feasible. Kieri however is not really ready to tie the knot again because he is still grieving over the deaths of his first family.

This was a very transitional book, where we know the things that are happening are important, but nothing has really taken shape yet. We learn a lot about the various non-human races, but more questions are being asked than are being answered. (I should mention that Oath of Fealty also had a definite “transitional” but it wasn’t as bad since that was the beginning of a new story, and it had been a long time since I’d read either The Deed of Paksenarrion or The Legacy of Gird. I’m hoping this will be a fairly long series, and that we get some more answers.

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Filed under book, fantasy, paladins, political intrigue, race/ethnicity issues, religion, Review: Book

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