As former military hero Duke Kieri Phelan ascends the throne in half-elven Lyonya, the neighboring realm of Tsaia faces a threat from the long-forgotten blood magery of the Verrakai family.
Oath of Fealty follows directly after the events that concluded Elizabeth Moon‘s Deed of Paksennarion trilogy, and as such is a bit tricky to synopsize, particularly in only one sentence. And it’s clearly the first book of a series, so it’s mostly set up.
That’s not to say that the book lacks action–hardly! The bulk of the plot concerns the newly discovered plan of the evil Verrakai family of nobility, who alone of the ruling class continue to practice magery. They keep their powers through blood sacrifice to the evil god Liart, such as the rituals practiced upon the paladin Paksenarrion in Oath of Gold. Dorrin Verrakai, who ran away from her family at a young age and pledged herself as a Knight of Falk, a holy saint, has now been elevated to Duke and charged to scour the land of her toxic and murderous kin. She discovers that their blood magery runs so deep that hidden Verrakai now wander freely throughout Tsaia, and that she alone has the power to resist them.
Meanwhile, two new kings have emerged in Tsaia and Lyonya. Plot-wise, the book mainly concerns itself with the politics of ascension, as Moon lays the groundwork for much intrigue to come. And then, in a subplot, we follow Arcolin, who has taken over now-King Kieri Phelan’s cohort, in a nice little military tale within the larger story.
Moon has a knowledge of military strategy that is par excellence, but she’s also a masterful storyteller who doesn’t let herself get bogged down in minutiae. Her prose moves things along and she’s got a good ear for dialogue. And she stages one helluva fight scene! Much here to recommend and endorse, and I hope the next one comes out sooner rather than later!