Final entry (Limits of Power, 2013, etc.) in the Paladin’s Legacy series.
Once again, rather than a monolithic existential threat, multitudinous intrigues and designs move the story forward. Arian, wife of Lyonya’s King Kieri, poisoned by an iynisin (evil elf-mage) blade, languishes, while Kieri, warned by Dragon to release mages trapped in the past, needs to discover his innate Old Human magic. In neighboring Tsaia, iynisin attack and grievously wound King Mikeli’s brother, Camwyn; Dragon is willing to heal Camwyn, but the price is that Mikeli may never see his brother again. Mage powers continue to appear in both nobles and commoners—a development opposed so vehemently by traditionalists that they are prepared to murder children to stamp it out. Jandelir Arcolin finds himself preoccupied with the gnomes who have declared him their prince, their all-encompassing Law and their concern for the Law’s correct application. Mikeli wonders what the iynisin intruders were after and concludes they sought the mysterious sentient regalia that reposes in a box that none save former mercenary Dorrin, Duke Verrakai, may open or even move. The regalia itself orders Dorrin to take the box on a perilous quest to a distant land, a journey that Dorrin herself does not expect to survive. Moon offers convincingly realized characters persuasively shaped by the extraordinary richness, depth and texture of the world they inhabit and the low-key yet knotty problems they must confront. So mesmerizing is the narrative that it’s a sad surprise having to emerge into the mundane world at story’s end. While fully satisfying, this conclusion leaves ample scope for further embellishment or spinoffs: excellent news for all concerned.
Such is the allure of an extremely talented writer at the height of her powers.