Friday, November 28, 2008

Fiest Saga Continues

Ok, so I just discovered it’s been close to five months since I did a post on the series I was reviewing. Oops.

The next book in the series is Shadow of a Dark Queen. It jumps several years into the future. Prince Nicky is all grown up and an admiral in the Royal Navy – we don’t see much of him. We now go to characters not at all related to the Kingdom’s royal family.

Erik VonDarkmoor is the bastard son of the Duke of Darkmoor. He’s somewhere around 16 to 20 years old, and is unofficially a blacksmith’s apprentice. Unofficially because he mother will not allow the local blacksmith to send a notice to the guild and allow him to name Erik as his apprentice. In practice, Erik is a very good blacksmith, and very good with the animals a blacksmith comes in contact with – horses mostly.

Erik’s mother is a very bitter woman, which makes Erik’s childhood unhappy. In her youth she was a great beauty, and she tells a story that the Duke of Darkmoor was so taken with her beauty that he actually married her, but because a powerful noble can’t get married without the King’s permission the marriage was annulled. The Duke was married to a very powerfully connected noble, and the Duke never acknowledged Erik as his son. If he had, Erik’s mother continually tells him, Erik would be the Duke’s heir, because he was firstborn. Although the Duke has not acknowledged Erik, he has not denied him either. This little bit of legal limbo lets Erik claim the last name VonDarkmoor.

When it is announced that the Duke will be visiting Erik’s home village, the Duke arrives with his wife and legitimate sons. The oldest is intent on causing trouble for Erik, and the youngest is not able to stop him. When the older son sexually assaults a girl Erik loves as his sister, Erik ends up killing him with the help of his best friend, Roo Avery.

Erik and Roo run away, hoping to travel beyond the reach of the Duchess of Darkmoor’s agents. They are captured, taken before both Prince Nicky (who is acting as regent) and a strange woman who stares intently at them, and ultimately judged guilty of murder and sentenced to hang.

Though they are put on the scaffold, the local militia leader Sergeant Bobby arranges for Erik, Roo, and other captives to go through a mock hanging – dropping the trapdoors under them but not hanging them. They are informed they are all dead men, but the Crown has a better use for them in a specially formed military. As dead men, Bobby can kill them at any time, for whatever he wants, for any infraction.

Thus begins Erik and Roo’s adventures as they travel to the continent of Novindus, which we visited in the last book. They undergo a series of extremely dangerous adventures with some of our old friends including Calis, the son of Elf Queen and Tomas. They are fighting a serious battle against a Queen and a race of non-humans who use a dark, evil magic. Their ultimate goal may be more than just conquering and killing – and someone has to stop them before they can conquer Novindus and start for the Kingdom. Many characters die, but the quest is more important than anything that has come so far in Feist’s saga.

Erik is one of my very favorite characters. I greatly enjoyed reading his story and learning how he grows from a simple country boy who just wants to be a blacksmith, into a strong and driven man who puts loyalty to crown and home above all else. We get to learn more of him through not just this book, but also some of the next few novels.

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