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The War God's Own    by David Weber order for
War God's Own
by David Weber
Order:  USA  Can
Pocket, 1999 (1998)
Hardcover, Paperback
* * *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

This second installment in the epic adventures of Bahzell Bahnakson and his friend Brandark does not disappoint. After a series of rousing adventures that bring them to the southern lands ruled by the half-elven Purple Lords, the duo head north on a ship crewed by halflings. Their destination is Belhadan, second largest city of the Empire of the Axe.

As Champion of the war god (and god of justice) Tomanak, Bahzell is duty-bound to deal with whatever he deems needs his attention. (As Tomanak pointed out to his reluctant Champion, Bahzell would do it anyway; he may as well serve the war god and benefit from his aid.) Much to his dismay, this somehow involves him assuming the mentorship of Sir Vaijon, a young human warrior of the Order of Tomanak in Belhadan.

Even in the cosmopolitan Empire of the Axe, the hradani are met with suspicion, fear, and even hatred. Brandark's rather battered appearance (he lost two fingers and the tip of one of his mobile, fox-like ears in their last battle with dark evil) and Bahzell's near eight feet of muscled might are hardly reassuring, but it is the hradani's role as mindless berserker assault troops in the Wizard Wars twelve centuries earlier that earns them the hatred of the other Races of Man. And the concept of a hradani Champion of Tomanak is just unbelievable.

Despite his interest in the bustling society around him, Bahzell feels an urge to return home. He is still accused of breaking hostage bond, but he has witnesses to prove his innocence. Besides, few believe that false accusation. Brandark has written a rollicking song that tells the truth, much to Bahzell's exasperation. He has heard more repetitions of 'The Lay of Bahzell Bloody-Hand' than he wants, but it has become quite popular. Much more important, there is wickedness stirring in the land of his people's enemy, an old evil that threatens not only the Bloody Sword hradani but his Horse Stealer clan as well. Similar dark sorcery resulted in the horrors of the Wizard Wars, burdened his people with the Rage, and made them outcasts. No decent hradani, no matter what clan, will tolerate the return of such evil.

Weber deftly juggles a large cast of colourful characters and resolves several plot lines in a satisfying manner. Bahzell and Brandark are intelligent, formidable protagonists; and they are joined by several supporting characters who are a delight to meet. Although this tale is dominated by male characters, Weber adds tough female roles as well, like Kaeritha, also a Champion, and Lady Marglyth, Bahzell's sister and first minister of his father's government. (Weber never fails to present strong female characters.) He also fills in the history of Bahzell's world, explaining how the Races of Man came to be. (Initially, there was only one race, the humans.)

This is several hundred pages of engrossing entertainment - rich and varied cultures that provide the setting for rousing adventures lived by a cast of engaging characters. I hated turning the last page; and I regret that Bahzell, his friends, and his world exist only in imagination. On the plus side, one can hope that Weber will choose to resume Bahzell's story and permit another visit to his world.

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