Eos, Oct 2002, 24.95, 368 pp.
Every King needs guards that are loyal to and willing to give up their lives in service to his majesty. In the kingdom of Chivial, the king's Blades are bound to their liege through a secret magical spell and to whomever the king binds them to as well. Sir Beaumont is the Blade with the best skills and is an excellent planner. His schemes are always successful, a trait that irritates his king.
Beau is bound by King Athlegar to Wasseil for the trip to Skyrria whose ruler Czar Igor is a madman willing to do anything to learn the binding spell for the king's blades. Beau uses chicanery and sleight of hand to successfully complete his mission and the king, instead of being grateful, dismisses Beau from his services.
This is an excellent swords and sorcery fantasy starring a protagonist who is right so much of the time, it is easy to see why he grates on the King's nerves. Skyrria feels like czarist Russia as a place where everyone has a hidden agenda, spellbound dogs are killing Igor's enemies and the people are afraid to say a word for fear of being killed. Chivial is too tame for the likes of Beau and it is hoped that he will appear in another king's Blade adventure living in a place like Skyrria.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner