PARAGON LOST: A Chronicle of the King's Blades
Canadian author Duncan offers plenty of swashbuckling fantasy adventure in this outstanding stand-alone novel, a follow-up to the three books in his loosely connected Tales of the King's Blades series (The Gilded Chain; Lord of the Fire Lands; Sky of Swords). Set during the reign of King Athelgar about a dozen years after the action of the previous volumes, the present story follows the binding of Sir Beaumont, one of the best of the King's Blades (swordsmen) in the land of Chivial, to the aged Lord Wassail, who must escort a royal princess from the court of the treacherous and insane Czar Igor and deliver a bride to the king. Along with fellow blades Arkell and Oak, Beaumont travels a narrow path in order to keep Wassail safe. Meanwhile, Igor desires his own blade and seeks the secrets of the rituals needed to gain one, aided by vicious ensorcelled dogs and the murderous strelsy. It's up to Beaumont, now disgraced and out of favor, to retrieve and stop a missing blade, Swithin, who's bound to the czar's brother-in-law, from reaching the czar's court. Rich, evocative language and superior narrative skills lift this mix of quest, swordplay, politics, love and honor high above the usual run of genre fiction. This book can only enhance Duncan's reputation as one of the leading masters of epic fantasy. (Oct. 8)
FYI:Duncan is also the author of Sir Stalwart and other titles in the King's Daggers series.