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Oath of Fealty (Paladin's Legacy Series #1)

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Overview

For the first time in nearly twenty years, Elizabeth Moon returns to the thrilling realm of her superb Deed of Paksenarrion trilogy.
 
Thanks to Paks’s courage, the long-vanished heir to the half-elven kingdom of Lyonya has been revealed as Kieri Phelan, a formidable mercenary who earned a title—and enemies—in the neighboring kingdom of Tsaia, where Prince Mikeli suddenly faces the threat of a coup. Acting swiftly, Mikeli strikes at the ...

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Oath of Fealty (Paladin's Legacy Series #1)

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Overview

For the first time in nearly twenty years, Elizabeth Moon returns to the thrilling realm of her superb Deed of Paksenarrion trilogy.
 
Thanks to Paks’s courage, the long-vanished heir to the half-elven kingdom of Lyonya has been revealed as Kieri Phelan, a formidable mercenary who earned a title—and enemies—in the neighboring kingdom of Tsaia, where Prince Mikeli suddenly faces the threat of a coup. Acting swiftly, Mikeli strikes at the powerful family behind the attack: the Verrakaien, magelords steeped in death and evil. Mikeli’s survival—and that of Tsaia—depend on the only Verrakai whose magery is not tainted with innocent blood. Two kings stand at a pivotal point in the history of their worlds. For dark forces are gathering against them, knit in a secret conspiracy more sinister and far more ancient than they can imagine.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“No one writes fantasy quite like Moon.”—The Miami Herald

“Sheer delight . . . an engrossing new adventure.”—Anne McCaffrey

Oath of Fealty is the best kind of fantasy: familiar but complex, with substance behind the accomplished style.”—Contra Costa Times
 
“Well-crafted storytelling . . . hard to put down.”—SF Site

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345524164
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/1/2011
  • Series: Paladin's Legacy Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 324,617
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Former Marine Elizabeth Moon is the author of many novels, including Victory Conditions, Command Decision, Engaging the Enemy, Marque and Reprisal, Trading in Danger, the Nebula Award winner The Speed of Dark, and Remnant Population, a Hugo Award finalist. After earning a degree in history from Rice University, Moon went on to obtain a degree in biology from the University of Texas, Austin. She lives in Florence, Texas.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Verella    

A small boy clambered from a cellar wall into an alley. He picked his way through the trash along the wall to a nearby street, walked quickly to the next turning, went left, then right. The street widened a little; the people he passed wore warmer clothes. He ducked into an alcove and pulled off the ragged jacket that had concealed his own unpatched shirt and tunic, folded the ragged one into a tidy bundle, and tucked it under his arm. Now he moved at a steady jog into the wealthier part of the city, nearer the palace. Finally he turned in to a gap between buildings, found the trapdoor he sought, and went belowground again.  

In the cellar of a tall house within a few minutes of the palace gates, he gave a coded knock. A hard-faced man with a spiked billet opened the door. "What d'you want, rat?" the man asked.  

"For Duke Verrakai's hand only," the boy said. "From the Horned Chain."  

"I'll take him," another man said, stepping out of looming shadows. He wore the red and black of Liart, and the horned chain was about his neck. "Come, boy."  

Shaking with fear, the boy followed, up stairs and along a corridor, to a room where another man, in Verrakai blue and silver, sat writing at a table by a fire.   "I am Duke Verrakai. You have a message for me: give it."  

The boy seemed to choke, and then, in a deep voice not his own, spoke the words Liart's priest had bade him say. "The man is free, and his companions; the paladin is ours. Without her aid, he can be taken. He must not reach Lyonya alive."  

"He will not," Duke Verrakai said. "Is there more?"  

The boy dug into his tunic and pulled out a folded paper; Verrakai took it and read it. "Well," he said, with a glance at the man in red and black. "It seems we must return this boy with our answer." He wrote on the reverse of the message, folded it, and handed it to the boy. "Go the way you came, swiftly."  

Less than a half-glass later, a man in Verrakai blue rode out the south gates of Verella and turned east on the river road. Later, after the turn of night, Kieri Phelan, newly revealed king of Lyonya, also rode through the gates, with an escort of the Royal Guard.      

Duke's Stronghold, North Marches, seven days later 

Jandelir Arcolin, senior captain of Duke Phelan's Company, rested his forearms on the top of the stronghold walls, where he had the best view to the south. On one side of the road to Duke's East, Stammel was putting his own cohort through an intricate marching drill. On the other, the junior sergeant of the recruit cohort supervised a sword drill with wooden blades. Beyond, the trees along the stream showed the first soft golds and oranges of ripening buds, though it would be hands of days yet before the fruit trees bloomed. Old snow still lay knee-deep against the north wall.  

He heard steps behind him, and turned. Cracolnya, captain of the mixed cohort, came up onto the walkway with him.  

"Are you putting down roots up here?" he asked.  

Arcolin shook his head. "Hoping for a courier. We should have heard something by now. At least the weather's lifted. Though not for long." He tipped his head to the northwest, where a line of dark clouds just showed over the hills.  

"Your worry won't bring the Duke faster," Cracolnya said. He turned his back on the view south and leaned against the parapet. "I wonder what we'll do this year."   "I don't know." Arcolin glanced down at the courtyard below, to be sure their inquisitive visitors, merchant-agents from Vonja, weren't in earshot. "He said not to take any contracts until he got back; I suggested they go to Verella and talk to him, but they were afraid of missing him on the way."  

"What are they offering?"  

"A one-cohort contract to protect farmlands and roads from brigands. I told them we'd need two for that—"  

"At least. Better the whole Company, or you're without reliable archery. Or were they planning to assign their militia to help?"  

"No. From what they said, they disbanded half the militia. Trade's down. But what do you think the Council will say? With the trouble this past winter, the Duke can't say it's entirely safe here. Yet—we have to do something. This land won't support so many soldiers year-round."  

Cracolnya leaned over the parapet, watching the recruit cohort. "We've got to do something with those recruits, too. They signed up to fight, and all we've done with them is train . . . and he's taken their final oaths: they'll be due regular pay soon."  

"He'll think of something." Arcolin looked again at the line of clouds along the western horizon. Buds or no buds, another winter storm was coming. "He always does. But if he doesn't come soon, we won't get the good quarters in Valdaire." He looked south again, sighing, then stiffened. "Someone's coming!"  

A single horseman, carrying the Company pennant, moving fast on the road from Duke's East. Not the Duke, who would have an escort.  

"Should I announce it, sir?" the sentry asked.   "No. It's just a messenger." Unfortunately. They needed the Duke. Arcolin turned and made his way down to the courtyard with Cracolnya at his heels.  

"I'll tell the stable," Cracolnya said, turning away. Arcolin moved to the gate, where he could watch the messenger approach.  

Whatever the message might be, it was urgent enough for the rider to keep his mount at a steady canter, trotting only the last few yards to the gate and then halting his mount to salute the sentry before riding in. Arcolin recognized Sef, a private in Dorrin's cohort.  

"Captain," Sef said, after he dismounted and handed the reins to one of the recruits on stable duty. "I have urgent news."  

"Into the barracks," Arcolin said. Through the opening to the Duke's courtyard, he could see the two merchants hurrying toward them, but merchants were not allowed in the barracks. He led the way, and turned in to the little room where the sergeants kept the cohort records and brewed sib on their own hearth. "What is it? Is the Duke coming? How far behind you is he?"  

"No sir, he's not coming, and you won't believe—but I should give you this first." Sef took a message tube from his tunic and handed it over.  

Arcolin glanced at the hearth. "See if there's any sib left, or brew yourself some; you've had a long ride. And if I know Stammel, he's got a roll hidden away somewhere."  

"Thank you, sir." Sef turned to the hearth, stirred the fire, and dipped a can of water from the barrel, setting it to heat.  

Arcolin unrolled the message. A smaller wrapped packet fell out; he put it aside. There, in the Duke's hand—with a postscript by Dorrin, he saw at a glance—he found what he had never imagined. Kieri Phelan revealed as the rightful king of Lyonya—Paksenarrion had discovered it, come to Tsaia to find him—Tammarion's sword had been his sword all along, elf-made for him, and it had declared him. Arcolin glanced at Sef, who was stirring roots and herbs into the can. "Did you see this yourself? Were you in Verella with the Duke?"  

"No, Captain. I was with the reserve troop. Captain Selfer come up from Verella, him and the horse both near knackered, and said the best rider must go fast as could be to the stronghold." Sef swallowed. "He thought it would be only two days, maybe, but that fog came in. I couldn't go more than a foot pace, mostly leading the horse. It's taken me twice as long as it should have, three days and this morning."  

"I'm not surprised," Arcolin said. "We had thick fog for days, up here; you did well, Sef." He read on, while Sef stirred the can of sib, struggling to make sense of what had happened. His mind snagged on Paksenarrion—once in his cohort. I must go, and leave her in torment, Kieri had written. Otherwise her torment is meaningless. Yet it is a stain on my honor. You will rule in my stead until the Regency Council confirms a new lord. I recommended you, but do not know what they will do. This letter and my signet ring will prove your identity and authority.   Arcolin unwrapped the smaller packet and found the Duke's ring. Not one of the copies he lent to his captains on occasion to do business for him, but the original, the one he himself wore. 

  Dorrin's postscript was brief. She was going with Kieri, on his orders; her cohort would follow. She feared more attacks on the Duke—scratched out to read King—on the road east. She did not know when she might return; it would depend upon his need. 

  Arcolin rolled the pages and slid them back into the tube. "Well. You will have traveled ahead of any word of his passage to the east—" He tried to estimate where Kieri might be, where Dorrin might be, seven days on a road he himself had never traveled. Impossible.  

"Right, Captain." Sef stirred the can again, sniffed it. "Want some sib, sir?"   "No thanks. Go ahead."  

Sef took a mug down from the rack and poured one for himself as he talked. "Captain Selfer said Captain Dorrin expected his cohort to catch up with the Duke before the Lyonya border. Wish I was with them—" He took a swallow of hot sib. 

  "I'm—I must admit I'm shocked . . . amazed . . . I don't know what to think," Arcolin said. "Our Duke a king—all the rest—" Remembering Paks as a recruit, a novice . . . the steady, reliable soldier she'd become . . . why she left, and when . . . the rumors . . . and then her return. He squeezed his eyes hard against tears, at the thought of her in Liart's hands, shook his head, and looked again at Sef. "You've done very well, Sef. Go tell the cooks to give you a hot meal, and I'll get Stammel to find you a place to sleep undisturbed."  

Sef saluted, then carefully rinsed the can and set it to dry before going out. Arcolin followed him, wondering if he'd have to explain to the Vonja agents before he found Stammel. Instead, Stammel met him at the gate. Arcolin smiled.  

"Your good instincts again, Sergeant."  

"My insatiable curiosity, Captain. News from the Duke could always be marching orders."

  "It's strange news indeed, and I'm not sure what will happen now," Arcolin said. "The courier was Sef of Dorrin's cohort—he needs a quiet bed to sleep; he was three days in thick fog between here and the south border. I sent him to the mess hall."  

"I'll see to it, Captain."  

"I need to talk to the other captains before I spread the news," Arcolin said. "I can tell you this—nothing will be the same." 

  "It never is," Stammel said. "That's why we like it. Your leave, Captain."   "Go ahead," Arcolin said, thinking again how lucky he was to have Stammel as senior sergeant. 

  He found Cracolnya in the stables, talking fodder with the quartermaster. 

  "And I don't know where more hay's coming from, this time of year," the quartermaster said. "Nobody's got enough stored; it's not to be bought, not at any price, and I know the Duke wouldn't want us to take from the farmers' stock."   Arcolin made a motion with his head, and Cracolnya nodded. To the quartermaster he said, "A messenger's come from the Duke; maybe an order to move out—that would help." 

  "I hope so," the quartermaster said gloomily. He spat into a corner. "I can't be sure . . ."  

Arcolin led the way down the aisle between rows of tie stalls to the box stalls at the end, empty now but for his and Cracolnya's mounts.  

"What is it? You look—strange."  

"I should. You must read it yourself." He handed over the message tube; Cracolnya opened it, unrolled the message, and started to read. Arcolin's roan ambler moved up to the front of the stall and nudged him; he rubbed the velvety muzzle absently while watching Cracolnya's face.  

"I—I don't know what to think," Cracolnya said, when he'd finished. "He's a king? In Lyonya? How did that happen?"  

"I don't know more than this."  

"They have a king already," Cracolnya said. "What's he think about it?" 

  "You missed a bit," Arcolin said. "He stuck it in between lines. Their king died without an heir. Paks was there—that's where she went when she left here. She felt called to find the heir." He ran a hand over his head. "But—what do we do now? He wants troops out guarding the Pargunese border; he thinks they might use this as an excuse to attack."  

"Scouts haven't said anything."  

"No. And this about a contract. You know what he said before he went south; he expected to take the Company south. But only one cohort?" He shook his head. "You know the Vonjans. They'll want twice the work for half the pay."  

"One cohort out, with pack mules, would ease the fodder situation," Cracolnya said. "Two would be better, if you can talk them into it."  

"What about protection here, though?" Arcolin said. "He's worried about the Pargunese, and the south border. A cohort each way, plus mine in the south, will nearly empty the stronghold. And we'll have to use the recruits, until Dorrin comes back." However long that might be.  

Cracolnya shrugged. "This recruit cohort's the best-trained we've ever had. They can garrison this; I can split mine between east and south. Or, the recruits can do their first real route march and take the southern end—we haven't had trouble with either of the neighboring domains, barring the odd thief, since Count Halar's father died."  

"That's a good idea, about using the recruits to garrison down there if needed," Arcolin said. "But first, I need to tell the Company about the Duke."  

"Maybe we should wait until we hear from Chaya," Cracolnya said. "Just in case."   "In case—"  

"He was attacked once. Suppose Verrakai raised a large force against him?"   "He's got Dorrin's cohort."  

"He's got Dorrin's cohort on the way, but what if they don't get there in time? He could be killed. Something could go wrong in Lyonya."  

"I don't—" Arcolin took two steps forward, turned, then took two steps back, avoiding the thought of Kieri Phelan dead. Instead, he said, "We have to tell the troops something—they have to know he's not coming back."  

"He left it to you," Cracolnya said. "But if you want my advice—" Arcolin nodded. "Then," Cracolnya went on, "make us a contract, and tell the Company that, and then tell them what you've heard, that it's all we know."  

"Ask the quartermaster how many beasts he can feed until spring grass," Arcolin said.  

Cracolnya looked smug. "I already know. Twelve." 

  Arcolin looked down the rows of tie stalls, mostly full. "Better get moving, then." He left Cracolnya in the stable and headed back to the officers' quarters and offices.  

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 81 )
Rating Distribution

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(44)

4 Star

(23)

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(6)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 81 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Paks Makes a Cameo Appearance after Two Decades

    Highly anticipated return to Paks' world which mostly fizzled for me. Paks had a couple of cameos, but the lion's share of the storylines fell to Dorrin, by far the most interesting of the points of view presented. Arcolin's story felt and looked like filler. Except for the scene in the ossuary, Kieri's tale barely bumped through a two-dimensional plane. The most tragic loose end hinges on the fate of Stammel.

    The abrupt and anti-climactic ending left me feeling ambivalent. My emotional line graph would resemble a near dead person's EKG - a few squiggles, but no mountainous peaks or terrifying plummets.

    For the rest of my review, please visit GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/97533360

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 30, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Elizabeth Moon wows again!!!

    Having read & re-read Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings' every year since 8th grade, it was wonderful to find Elizabeth Moon's Paks series and then re-read THEM regularly (especially while working in Africa with not much access to English books!). I had never read Sci-Fi, but started in with her Serrano & Change of Command books...and have now expanded to David Weber's Honor Harrington et all. Thank you, Elizabeth Moon, for opening up whole universes to folks who wouldn't have gone there!! The new Paks book takes us deeper into the lives of Duke-now-King-of-Lyona Kieri Phelan, Dorrin, Acrolin et all -- with great character development and plot twists right from where the last series ended. Mages get more coverage here (although some of the same bad guys are still around) & Paks makes brief appearances. The only problem with this book is that when I reached the end, I wanted to read the next one (and now we have to wait, how long???) so re-read the whole Paks trilogy yet AGAIN. Highly recommend this book (especially to any Tolkien fans out there), but it's helpful to read the first three books - totally amazing!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 21, 2010

    Great book for Paks fans!

    The story is everything you should expect from the world created by Ellizabeth Moon. I highly recommend anyone that enjoyed The Deed of Paksennarion read this book! That being said, I can't stress enough how much a $14 ebook is ripping you off. There's no printing fees, no shipping fees, vertually no overhead at all for an ebooks production so anything over $8 is just plain greed in my humble opinion.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 17, 2010

    An amazing continuation

    "Oath of Fealty" is a sequel to Ms. Moon's Paksenarion series. The Paksenarion character makes only a brief appearance in this story. But she continues to be a powerful presence among the other characters. The actors in this novel are among the most compelling I have read.

    KIeri, the captain of Paksenarion's company has been revealed to be the half-elf king of Lyonya. He must pull his kingdom together and get it ready for the invasion from neighbors that he expects. This is a difficult task. Elves refuse to get involved in human violence. His human subjects are content and used to many years of peace. The distrust the idea of a standing army and they distrust their elven neighbors.

    With the ascendency of Kieri to the throne, someone must fill the positions he left, both of captain of the company and of Duke of Phelan, Kieri's former holding. People from within the company must be promoted to lead the cohorts in contracted duties. One cohort leader, Arcolin is chosen as next captain.

    Another cohort leader, Dorrin Verrakai is chosen to rule over the Dukedom her family lost when they treasonably attempted to kill the king and rule. Dorrin has other problems. Because of her Verrakai blood, she is distrusted and feared. Her family were blood mages. She discovers that she too has magical ability. She discovers that her family has been using blood magic to prolong their lives by transferring their consciousness to other people, usually children.

    The Verrakai family has used magic in another attempt to kill the royal family and their loyal followers.

    This story stands alone. The reader need not have read the three novels in the original series to understand and appreciate this one. The action is fast paced. The characters well built and three dimensional. While Ms. Moon's work is always excellent, I believe this is her best to date and look forward to the sequels.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2010

    Moon Rides Again

    A terrific book, after 20 years we can return to the world of Paksenarrion. You don't even need to read the earlier books since this is a new adventure using existing characters. I could not put it down. Moon has been successful with space adventure lately but is obviously just as at home with fantasy. The fans of Paks the paladin will not be disappointed at all. A book that will be enjoyed by any fantasy fan.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 8, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A welcome return to Paks' world!

    A wonderful return to the world Elizabeth Moon made real in the Deed of Paksenarrion series. Old friends return with new lives, responsibilities, and challenges due to the actions taken by Paks at the end of the previous stories. Oathe of Fealty begins when Paks was in the hands of the tormentors for 5 days and nights; told from other characters' perspectives. It is not necessary to read the Deed of Paksenarrion series to enjoy this story...but why would you want to deprive yourself of one of the best reads of many decades? This story has many subplots going and it will fascinate and intrigue you from start to finish. The only problem? I can't wait until the next installment!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Can not wait for the next book

    I really enjoyed the return of characters I already knew some what.
    She left a number of plots hanging so makes me really want the next book. To me this shows a great series to come.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2010

    A return to a story and world last visited with the Paks series

    Elizabeth Moon has a way with her stories. Her characters are so real that you feel with them. It is set in a world of hardships, there are kingdoms, great families, and even some elves. Her female character are some of best.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2010

    Good Story in the "Paks" tradition!

    Great filling out of the characters from the prior "Paks" series. Good story line all on it's own. Two days to read it with interuptions. Do'n plan and going to bed the first night!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2010

    Intricate and Intriguing

    This is a great new beginning, I am anxious for the rest of this trilogy. This author has really grown in her writing style and her characters really stand out. Love It A Lot!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 22, 2010

    More great reading from Elizabeth Moon

    If you enjoyed The Deed of Paksenarrion, you don't need to be told to buy this one. Paks is back, though as a secondary character. The focus is on what happens to Kieri Phelan, unexpectedly named king of Lyonya, and two of the captains in his former mercenary company, Dorrin and Arcolin. The plot is strong and well-crafted, and the characters are wonderful. There are lots of interesting characters, each alive and distinct, and all of the ones we spend extended time with are honorable and intelligent (though they certainly don't always agree).

    If you haven't already read Deed - perhaps you've read the science fiction Ms. Moon has been writing more recently - you don't have to read it before you read Oath of Fealty. I think you could jump in and enjoy this one without it. But I would recommend you read the other first.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2014

    Great Story!! Nice to see some of the other character's backgrou

    Great Story!! Nice to see some of the other character's backgrounds and tales. And yes, while Paks makes a few cameos, people, this is NOT about Paks!! That's already been done, ok? This is a great companion/continuation tale about the other people in Paks' life. It's a great start tp a new series, set in the same world, at the same time. You'd be foolish to miss it!!

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  • Posted April 11, 2014

    Excellent - a great introduction to a new fantasy world

    Good storyline, well developed characters. Enough magic/powers to keep it interesting, but not dominate the entire book. Having never read anything by Moon prior, I was wary of just jumping in, but these characters made sense on their own and I didn't feel I was missing anything by not having read the earlier books (I may go back now, because I like her work)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2013

    Outstanding

    Excellent in every way.

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  • Posted April 29, 2012

    Well-written with Believable Characters

    This book is a continuation of the "Paksenarrion" series. Even so, the author does a very good job of providing a sufficient backstory that this book can be read as a stand-alone story without missing anything substantial. Well-written with loose ends very well tied up at the end, even though it is clear that the story will continue in future books.

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  • Posted March 23, 2012

    Check it out

    This is my first read from Elizabeth Moon. Great read. Purchaced all ebooks in the series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2011

    Awsome return to great series

    I have loved this series ever since I came across it in the last few years. It is a shame B&N doesn't carry the rest of Moon's books but if anyone is interested in purchasing them you can buy them cheap on WebScription . net in any format for any device including epub for nook.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2010

    A Colossal Waste of Money!

    Save your money or wait for the paperback. This novel features cookie-cutter characters with little or nothing to differentiate them, dull writing and a plot that is incomprehensible.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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