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Another of Duncan’s fantasies about the King’s Blades (Impossible Odds, 2003, etc.), superhumanly skillful swordsmen/bodyguards magically bound to defend their ward to the death.

Sir Wolf, he of the fearsomely scarred and twisted visage, is known as the King’s Killer, but Wolf and King Athelgar of Chivial are united only in their mutual loathing. Once Athelgar grew tired of his mistress Celeste, he banished her to a remote and supposedly impregnable fortress—yet, somehow, warriors breach the fortress and abduct Celeste. Sir Lynx, Wolf's brother, barely survives the assault. The king orders Wolf, along with young, beautiful Dolores Hogwood, a Dark Council Inquisitor (this sounds exciting, but few details emerge) with advanced magical expertise, to investigate. Dolores has her own agenda: to recruit Wolf. The warriors who abducted Celeste were huge, armed with glass swords, bedizened with gold, feathers, and jewels—and their catlike claws, fangs, and fur appear to be real! Moreover, they were transported magically across the ocean in an instant—a feat far beyond the capabilities of the Dark Council. The assailants, Wolf determines, originated in remote Tlixilia, a tropical empire that King Diego of Distlain is currently attempting to subdue. A determined expedition might form an alliance with Tlixilia against Distlain, rescue Celeste—and, Dolores speculates, make her fortune if she can learn the secrets of Tlixilian magic. Wolf knows it won’t be that easy. Lynx has already vanished, heading for Tlixilia: he’s Celeste’s bound Blade, impelled by his binding to return to her side no matter what.

Lackluster: Duncan simply grafts on some magic to an obvious real-world historical backdrop. A series that's run out of steam.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-06-055511-4
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Eos/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2004


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