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LIMITS OF POWER by Elizabeth Moon


From the Paladin's Legacy series, volume 4

by Elizabeth Moon

Pub Date: June 11th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-345-53306-7
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

The fourth entry in Moon’s solid-going-on-stolid Paladin’s Legacy fantasy series (Echoes of Betrayal, 2012, etc.) is far from easily intelligible for unacquainted readers.

Once again the plot, or rather the multitudinous intrigues and designs, creeps forward. Kieri Phelan, the half-elf king of Lyonya married to Arian, another half-elf, must beget an heir, since he faces external threats and, at home, disaffected elves, attacks from evil elflike iynisin and an as-yet unmasked traitor. Powerful and mysterious dragons, or perhaps the same dragon, make their presence known. Mikeli, the young king of neighboring Tsaia, discovers, to his dismay, that his brother Camwyn has developed forbidden magic powers, as have an astonishing number of others, nobles and commoners alike. A tribe of gnomes nominate Jandelir Arcolin, Count of the North Marches, as their prince. In a box that cannot be opened lurks a mysterious sentient regalia. Former thief-enforcer Arvid Semminson starts hearing the voice of the god Gird. And the Duke of Immer, willingly possessed by a malevolent entity, nurtures schemes of conquest. Among all this are characters with confusingly similar names, or the same character with different names. The dialogue tends towards starchy-stiff. And Moon thoughtfully provides a map that, less helpfully, omits many of the places mentioned in the text. Still, it’s easy to become fully immersed in, and absorbed by, the narrative: Her great strength lies in the patient accumulation of telling detail, yielding an extraordinarily rich picture of the world’s politics, philosophy, military structure, history, magic and alien cultures, where men and women stand as equals even in force of arms.

A concluding volume is promised—and it’ll have to be some finale to knit up all the strands. Moon proves here, as in the past, that she’s more than equal to the task.