Daw, 2009 (2009)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
is the fourth (following
) in Sherwood Smith's remarkable fantasy series.
led readers through prince Indevan-Dal's childhood in Iasca Leror and his exile to a life at sea for the good of the kingdom. Inda, a very young military genius, broke the pirate Brotherhood of Blood. As
ended, his friend Evred ascended the throne of Iasca Leror and married Inda's sister Hadand. In
, Inda returned from exile (accompaned by his sorceress lover, Dag Signi) to warn his homeland of an imminent Venn invasion, and helped Evred fight them as his Harskialdna.
opens, Inda and his childhood friend Tdor have just married and settle in to their respective duties in the royal city. Inda has '
regained honor and place
' and Tdor is joyful, though she struggles against jealousy of Signi. Evred continues to struggle with his feelings for Inda, which he knows are not returned, and with the corruption of power. They have a respite from their struggle against the Venn, though not peace. Tau has received word from Jeje that she's found his mother. When he tracks his mother down to a castle in Anaeran-Adrani, she informs him of an aristocratic family heritage.
he Venn war fleet sails home, where its commander Durasnir and his strong wife Brun do what little they can to resist the plans of Dag Erkric, who controls young king Rajnir's every word and action through magic. They're both devastated when Erkric takes their sole surviving son, ten-year-old Halvir, as a hostage - but little do they know that Halvir will have a key role to play. A formal
is called against Signi for a distortion of her role during the invasion. They trap her as she journeys in Iasca Leror, renewing bridge and water spells.
t sea, Elgar the Fox pulls together a maritime alliance against the expected Venn attack, but its leaders want Inda in command. Barend seeks to recover the treasure Inda found for Iasca Leror - but will Fox (torn between resentment of Evred and friendship with Inda) permit it? The mysterious Norsunder mage, Ramis, continues to pull magical strings, Fox's this time, and offers him a very special ship, the
. All these events build to another desperate confrontation with the Venn, this time a sea battle.
hen it's over, Inda has a terrible choice to make, between his duty to Evred and all that he owes to his maritime allies - hence the episode's title.
takes a hard look at different kinds of love, different kinds of loyalties and different sorts of power (what's enforced versus given freely by the people). By its ending (the conclusion to the story cycle), both Inda and Evred have been given what they deserve for the lives they have lived. Sherwood Smith has created an incredible world (also the setting for many of her YA fantasies) in this series, one rich in history, cultures and magics. I very much hope that she continues to share its stories with fans young and old.
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