Sequel to The Still (1997) of the Rodrigo of Caledon saga. As medieval fantasy sagas go, The King is indeed smoothly written, far richer and deeper than Feintuch’s military SF Seafort series. In The Still, the queen of Caledon dies at Castle Stryx and Rodrigo is to be king. But, she tells him, the power of her magic in The Still—to find wisdom in still water—won’t be his unless he stays a virgin, never lies, and is crowned king. (Apparently, guy lovers don’t count.) But before he can be crowned, his wily uncle Margenthar, Duke of Stryx, proclaims himself regent until Rodrigo comes of age. Early readers had to put up with a hero no one could love: supreme egoist and loathsome, friendless snot, almost until novel’s end, when, after going into exile with his companion/lover Rustin, the fledgling at last sees that statesmanship will be required of him. And he now suffers from facial disfigurement: a long vertical scar not repeated in the thoughtful narcissist on The King’s book jacket. Still a prince and with Uncle Marganthar still regent, Roddy leads an army against Castle Stryx but worries that he will be trapped on the old city’s cobbled streets and slain by Norlanders. Retaking Stryx, he rejects Uncle Mar and rallies the kingdom. Meanwhile, King Hriskil’s invading Norlanders hound Roddy’s army through Caledon, and as ceaseless battles and skirmishes arise, Roddy becomes a crafty planner, skilled at squeaking out of tight spots. He can even calmly split a man’s head open with an oar. But he has shamefully squandered the envisioning power of The Still, and it deserts him. When The Still returns, its visions drive Roddy mad with grief.
Should appeal to young adults, now that Roddy’s overcome his flaws. With 1,200 pages about an adolescent virgin prince, and now king, this should be about it, although we leave Rodrigo nervously ready to marry Princess Tresa and have an heir.