Eos, Nov 2003, 24.95, 384 pp.
In Chivial, Grand Duke Rubin of Krupina asks King Athelgar to help him regain his lost dukedom. Rubin's warrior-cousin Lord Volpe tossed him off his minor throne and has attacked him with evil magic as he crossed Eurania to come her for assistance. Rubin pleads with the monarch to assign the King's Blades to help him regain his power.
King Athelgar has no fully trained Blade available so he selects the inexperienced Ranter and the rookie Ringwood led by the injured Bellman to assist the Grand Duke. However Trudy of the Sisterhood, states that Rubin is using a magical device to alter his appearance. He turns out to be a she as the visitor is the Grand Duchess Johanna, who does not know the fate of her spouse or their son. Johanna accepts what she can and leads her motley crew back to Krupina to confront Volpe and his magic practitioner knights.
The fifth Chronicle of the King's Blades is an exciting sword and sorcery tale that reads somewhat as if an amateur sleuth story was set in a fantasy realm. The quintet heads to Krupina for a final confrontation with very distinct, realistic and realistic characters. The story line is fast-paced so that fantasy fans will enjoy the enchanted battles while mystery readers who appreciate a radically different slant will relish Trudy. Fans of the series will want to read the latest Blades adventure as once again those magically bound to defend the King (and anyone he chooses even to the death) risk their lives.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner