Echoes of Betrayal: Paladin’s Legacy, by Elizabeth Moon
Elizabeth Moon is an award-winning, bestselling author of fantasy and science fiction, but I find that many readers are unfamiliar with her work. I’ve read all of her books, and really enjoy her memorable fantasy novels. Echoes of Betrayal is her third in a new series of books set in Tsaia and Lyonya. They follow an older book, The Deed of Paksenarrion, originally published as a trilogy beginning with Sheepfarmer’s Daughter. Magic, politics, betrayal, adventure, romance, and military strategy are all major themes in her work. Since she writes in the Tolkien epic fantasy tradition, her world may seem familiar, with elves, gnomes, thieves, heroes, and rarely, dragons. Her current series begins with Oath of Fealty, followed by Kings of the North. Paladin Paksenarrion’s main quest was to find the rightful king of half-elven Lyonya. When it turned out to be her former commander, Duke Kieri Phelan, everyone was astonished. Two of his former captains became Count Arcolin and Duke Verrakai.
King Kieri co-rules Lyonya with his elf grandmother, the Lady of the forest. She keeps disappearing at inconvenient times, and is holding back vital information. As Kieri asks his squire Arian to marry him and they prepare for their engagement and wedding ceremonies, his human ancestors begin speaking to both of them, predicting trouble. Estil and Aliam Halveric, old friends of Kieri, play welcome larger roles in this book and in Kings of the North, especially when a poisoner is suspected.
Dorrin, Duke Verrakai, is Constable of the neighboring kingdom of Tsaia, which is unusual because she is a female duke, a mage lord, and one of the otherwise disgraced Verrakaien. When two of her squires run into danger, her reputation suffers. Squire Beclan, cousin of the young king of Tsaia, unwisely leads his squad into a trap and falls under grave suspicion when he is the only survivor.
Two of Arcolin’s captains, Selfer and Burek, wintering in the south, have trouble with a new captain, and are unexpectedly aided by Arvid Semminson, a member of the Thieves’ Guild. Arvid’s life is being slowly changed after contact with Paksenarrion and with a gnome who owes him a debt. Blind Sergeant Stammel has a choice to make, and a dragon comes into play.
Clearly another book or two will follow, which will be welcomed by her many readers. I think readers of Tamora Pierce, Tanya Huff, and David Weber will enjoy her books; I certainly do. They’re also very good as audiobooks.