VOYA - Rayna Pa
Treachery has destroyed the Clan Leonne and its Tyr'agar, hereditary ruler of the Dominion. Only one seemingly insignificant male member is briefly overlooked: Valedan, son of a concubine hostage in the neighboring Empire. Unfortunately for the usurpers, in the Dominion there is a magic Sword with a stubborn and persistent loyalty to the legitimate Tyr'agar. The newly-installed ruler of the Dominion strives to kill Valedan in order to strengthen his own position. Meanwhile, the God-Born kings of the Empire, realizing that they hold a potentially valuable ally, pledge to protect and support Valedan; the Demon Lords of the Shining Court, for their own purposes, support the Dominion. As the annual King's Challenge is about to begin, Valedan enters the contest to prove he is no longer an unseasoned boy, but worthy to rule the Clans and the Dominion. The threats against Valedan and those charged to protect him escalate, and it seems unlikely that he will live long enough to finish the tests of martial arts. Ultimately he excels, but voluntarily forfeits his chance at the winner's title in order to help a fallen enemy.
This book is a sequel to The Broken Crown (DAW, 1997/VOYA August 1997), which first introduced the feudal world of the Western Kingdoms. Readers who have not read the first volume, as well as some who have, are going to find it fairly baffling. It includes an enormous cast of characters and far more words than seem necessary. Neither of the Kingdoms seems particularly admirable, and with few exceptions, neither do the characters. Perhaps a synopsis of the first book might have helped sort things out? In short, consider this only where there is a cadre of readers dedicated to very long fantasy stories.
VOYA Codes: 2Q 2P S A/YA (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q, For the YA reader with a special interest in the subject, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12 and adults). t