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Paragon Lost: A Chronicle of the King's Blades    by Dave Duncan order for
Paragon Lost
by Dave Duncan
Order:  USA  Can
Eos, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

We first meet Beau working as a stablehand (and occasionally as a fencing master), while his wife Isabelle is a kitchen drudge. Though it seems the King bears a grudge against Beau, the Grand Master of the King's Blades solicits his help - it seems that someone has bound and stolen a Blade named Swithin.

Flashbacks begin to make the puzzle clear. Young Blades Beau, Cedric and Arkell are bound to an honorable, ill, elderly man trusted by the King, and assigned to escort his betrothed (Princess Tasha) to her wedding in Chivial. Unfortunately, the King and his advisors are geographically challenged, and also ignorant of the state of the kingdom of Skyrria, which is ruled by a mad Czar.

It's a challenge to get to Skyrria, and an even bigger one to survive once they arrive. There are betrayals around every corner and a perilous romance. The paranoid Czar engages in vile sorcery and his heir, brutish Czarevich Igor, is violently out of control. Beau, a paragon amongst Blades, negotiates all this with subtlety and finesse, but even he cannot prevent disaster.

When the survivors limp home, escorting a spoiled Princess with a crush on Beau, the King is not a happy camper and takes out his frustration on the expedition's leader. But Sir Beaumont, a master strategist, finds his way to turn the tables, help all to whom he owes loyalty, and bring back the jewels that he has promised to Isabelle.

Though the King's Blades books are not my favorites of Dave Duncan's prolific adventures, anything he writes, and in particular Paragon Lost, is great fantasy and great fun.

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