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The Gilded Chain by Dave DuncanEos, November 1998.
Hardcover, 338 pages.
In the enchantment-ridden land of Chivial, the Ironhall school takes rebellious, skilled boys and turns them into brilliant swordsmen with a keen sense of honor and loyalty. In a somewhat shocking magical ritual, each graduate is bonded spiritually to the King or someone the King designates, for life. The bond is unbreakable, and the King's Blade (as the graduate is now known) must defend his new master from all foes with his life. Durendal is eagerly anticipating his bonding, when his hopes are dashed. The King has ordered him bonded to an effete fop who seems unlikely in the extreme to need a King's Blade to defend him from anything more dangerous than a hangover. Nevertheless, Durendal determines to be the best King's Blade the land has ever seen, regardless of his ridiculous master. Of course, Durendal is fated for much better things -- this is only the beginning of an incredible tale of adventure, fate, love, magic, betrayal and intrigue which will span Durendal's life.
Dave Duncan has outdone himself with this incredible tale which begins a new series starring the King's Blades. The world he creates is exotic and familiar, yet totally unique, especially in the magical elements. The characters are complex and well-developed and the storyline is heart-poundingly exciting. There is an offbeat element of humor to the book that adds to the fascination of the story, and some of the adventures conjure up a faint image of the late Edgar Rice Burroughs. An outstanding book. Highly Recommended.
A Knight of the Word by Terry BrooksDel Rey, August 1998.
Hardcover, 432 pages.
John Ross, former professor of English literature and now a Knight of the Word who wields great magic and power and whose fate is to preserve the future of the world has reached a personal crisis after failing to save some children from a terrible tragedy that his dreams warned him about. Determined to cease being a Knight of the Word, he is drifting and trying to make a new life for himself. But it's not that easy to walk away from the sworn duties of a Knight of the Word and evil stalks him hoping to turn him to the other side. His young friend Nest Freemark, who also yields a type of magic, sets off for Seattle to find John and save him from the tragic fate the Void has planned for him. Battling unseen demons and John's own ambivalence toward his role in the world, Nest has her work cut out for her. But she must succeed or the fate of John and the world are grim indeed.
This is the sequel to the exciting and unique novel Running with the Demon which introduced the characters of John and Nest. The sequel moves at a much slower pace, but continues the interesting tale of the English lit professor turned savior of the world. The character of Nest and her unusual friends are especially interesting and this reviewer, for one, believes that Nest's future adventures would make an excellent next book.
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