Roc, April 2004, 14.95, 448 pp.
In the Kingdom of Avornis, two monarchs sit on the diamond throne; King Lanius has royal blood running through his veins while King Grus is a commoner who seized power when the young ruler's mother tried to kill him through sorcery. King Grus forced Lanius to marry his daughter to further consolidate his base of power and to keep the young monarch on a very short leash. Both men want what is best for the realm so when the Banished One gains dominion over one of the city-states of Chernagor, King Grus gathers his armies to topple the ruler who worships the Banished One.
The army of Avornis breaks off its northern attack of Nishevetz to confront the threat of the nomadic Menteshe who worship the Banished One and who have the magical artifact the Scepter of Mercy that rightfully belongs to the Kings of Avornis. The Mentshe have invaded the southern portion of the realm. King Grus and King Lanius want them out before they turn the people into mindless thralls.
Book two of THE SCEPTER OF MERCY is an entertaining sword and sorcery novel that gives equal attention to the characters as it does to the action scenes. The relationships between the two kings evolve over the years.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner