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Allegiance    by Beth Bernobich order for
by Beth Bernobich
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Allegiance follows Passion Play and Queen's Hunt as the third in the River of Souls fantasy epic. It's a most unusual one, in that many characters (the leads in particular) remember their differing roles and interactions in past lives and some seek redemption for those deeds (since 'Debts are like wounds') in their current existence.

As Allegiance opens, the tyrant King Leos of Károví is dead, and Lir's jewels (which empowered his magical rule for centuries) have 'reunited into a single alien creature, who then disappeared into the magical void.' After witnessing this, series heroine Ilse Zhalina fled alongside Valara Baussay, Queen of Morennioů.

Ilse has promised to help Valara return home, but is even more anxious to learn the fate of her lover, Raul Kosenmark, back in Veraene. There, Raul seeks allies at court to convince King Armand (and his powerful advisor, King's Mage Lord Markus Khandarr) not to go to war.

Duke Miro Karasek soon finds Ilse and Valara and offers them shelter in his domain of Taboresk, where they pretend to be visiting cousins. Miro makes a promise to Valara, and in this life he keeps it.

In the meantime, Raul wends his way to the capital of Duenne, where he is arrested for treason, his execution imminent. Raul's father demands a trial. Ilse also makes her way back to Duenne, braving many perils en route. She carries a letter that argues for peace. Will she be in time and can she possibly save Raul?

It's an exciting story with a very satisfying ending (which has a most unusual twist to it) and has made me anxious to find the first two episodes and read them as well (I recommend though that you read them in order). I look forward to reading more by Beth Bernobich.

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