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Lord of the Fire Lands:: A Tale of the King's Blades
by Dave Duncan
ISBN 0380974614 / 9780380974610 / 0-380-97461-4
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The Blades are back! Dave Duncan's deftly done swords-and-sorcery series adds its second chapter with The Lord of the Fire Lands, the worthy standalone followup to The Gilded Chain. Duncan's triumph with the first tale of the King's Blades--a trend that thankfully continues with the second--is his unabashed confidence in the genre. Swashbuckling high fantasy may get its share of derisive snickers, but done well it can be as engaging and smart as anything more weighty--not to mention that it's often a lot more fun.
Lord of the Fire Lands opens with fat King Ambrose back at hallowed Ironhall mustering more Blades, the Kingdom of Chivial's magically bound, magically enhanced super-swordsmen. But when His Majesty prepares to bestow this honor on the hall's senior pupil, Candidate Raider does the unthinkable, the unprecedented: he refuses. Why would a Blade-to-be insult--and enrage--his king? That, of course, is a long story, and just the start of this time-hopping, tortuous tale.
Cover to cover, Duncan has packed blood-thirsty pirates, betrayed princes, kidnapped brides, slippery assassins, stark-mad shamans, volcanic firedrakes, Blades (naturally) by the bushel, and even a satisfying cameo from none other than Gilded Chain's legendary Durendal. --Paul Hughes [via]