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Kings of the North: Paladin's Legacy #2    by Elizabeth Moon order for
Kings of the North
by Elizabeth Moon
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Kings of the North follows Oath of Fealty as the second episode in a splendid new series set in the rich fantasy world of Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter (Paks was introduced in the genre classic, Deed of Paksenarrion). Now a paladin, the sheepfarmer's daughter shows up intermittently (but is mentioned often) in these new books.

Just as in Robert Jordan's brilliant Wheel of Time, those closest to Paks in her early adventures are all brushed by the fates and destined for great things here. Kieri Phelan, once captain of a mercenary band, is now co-ruler (along with his fully elven grandmother) of Lyonya. He has his problems - he's trying to work out how to defend his new realm; his subjects all press him to marry and produce an heir; and his grandmother is inexplicably absent when he needs her most.

As Kings of the North progresses, Kieri must cope with two unwilling princesses (one dispatched to assassinate him) and an attack involving scathefire from the neighboring Pargunese kingdom which is itself attacked from within - both initiated by the evil Weaver. Kieri's half-elven Squire Arian (the only woman who attracts him, though he has done nothing about it because of her youth) plays a key role here, with help from a most unexpected source.

In Tsaia, King Mikeli is putting his kingdom back together after Dorrin's Verrakaien magelord relatives tried to kill him. Dorrin is working on getting her own house in order and adjusting to her new role as Duke. Arvid, the thief who aided Paksenarrion, foils an attempt to steal the magical ancient regalia (with a will of its own) that Dorrin discovered in Oath of Fealty, and he wins a gnome as an ally.

Arcolin, leader of the mercenaries since Kieri's departure, is dealing with surprisingly well organized and well supplied brigands in Aarenis. He believes they are supported by ruthless Duke Alured of Immer, a former pirate who has high ambitions. Arcolin is rejoined by Stammel who, though now blind, finds that his archery skills are not diminished.

Kings of the North develops this Paladin's Legacy saga on many fronts, tying off loose ends for some key characters and setting the stage for others (Arcolin and Arvid in particular) to move into the limelight. I loved Deed of Paksenarrion, am totally hooked on Paladin's Legacy and can't wait for more. Highly recommended!

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