NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY KIRKUS REVIEWS
Acclaimed author Elizabeth Moon spins gripping, richly imagined epic fantasy novels that have earned comparisons to the work of such authors as Robin Hobb and Lois McMaster Bujold. In this volume, Moon’s brilliant masterwork reaches its triumphant conclusion.
The mysterious reappearance of magery throughout the land has been met with suspicion, fear, and violence. In the kingdom of Lyonya, Kieri, the half-elven, half-human king, struggles to balance the competing demands of his heritage while fighting a deadly threat to his rule: evil elves linked in some way to the rebirth of magic.
Meanwhile, in the neighboring kingdom of Tsaia, a set of ancient artifacts recovered by the former mercenary Dorrin Verrakai may hold the answer to the riddle of magery’s return. Thus Dorrin embarks on a dangerous quest to return these relics of a bygone age to their all-but-mythical place of origin. What she encounters there will change her in unimaginable ways—and spell doom or salvation for the entire world.
Praise for Crown of Renewal
“Mesmerizing . . . [Elizabeth] Moon offers convincingly realized characters persuasively shaped by the extraordinary richness, depth and texture of the world they inhabit. . . . Such is the allure of an extremely talented writer at the the height of her powers.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Elves, demons, warped magicians, ancient artifacts, time travel, and an agrarian-based society make for an evocative story. . . . The depth of each character’s emotions . . . show the author’s writing power.”—Booklist
Praise for Elizabeth Moon
Limits of Power
“Thoughtful and deeply character driven, full of personal crises as heartbreaking and hopeful as any dramatic invasion . . . Fantasy fans will be delighted by this impressive foray.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Echoes of Betrayal
“This is an excellent series, and Echoes of Betrayal is particularly well done. [Moon is a] consistently entertaining writer, and this book lives up to her standards.”—San Jose Mercury News
“Rousing action and intriguing plot twists.”—Kirkus Reviews
Kings of the North
“Moon’s characters navigate an intricate maze of alliances and rivalries. . . . Close attention to military detail gives the action convincing intensity.”—The Star-Ledger
“Her storytelling is as electrifying as ever, and her readers should be delighted with this new vista of a well-known world.”—Booklist
About the Author
Elizabeth Moon grew up on the Texas border, served three years of active duty in the USMC (1968–71), and now lives with her husband, also a veteran, near Austin, Texas. She has published more than twenty-five novels, including Nebula Award winner The Speed of Dark, Hugo finalist Remnant Population, and the enduring epic fantasy series The Chronicles of Paksenarrion. She has published more than fifty short-fiction pieces in anthologies and magazines and in four of her own short-fiction collections, most recently Moon Flights and Deeds of Honor. When not writing, Moon enjoys photographing native plants and wildlife, knitting socks, and cooking.
Read an Excerpt
Andressat, winter of the previous year
inter storms, one after another, cut off the high plateau of Andressat from the lowlands around it as Midwinter Feast neared. On the morning before the nightlong vigil, Meddthal Andressat, the Count of Andressat’s second son and present commander in the north, woke to hear the thud of the inner door closing, then voices in the tower’s main hall: exclamations, then quieter tones.
Someone, he gathered, had sent something to someone as a gift. Found it by the door. Sighing, he pushed back the covers, dressed quickly, and went out to see what was going on. Families did not normally come to the towers to leave gifts for their kin on duty, especially not during winter storms. Especially not without pounding on the door and coming inside. He thought immediately of treachery, poisoned food, perhaps, sent by an enemy.
“Whatever it is, don’t eat it,” he said, coming into the mess, then stopped short as he saw the wide eyes and horrified expressions turned toward him and the quick movement of men hiding something from their commander. “What?” he demanded. “Show me.”
The sergeant who had served with him since Meddthal first gained command shook his head. “Sir, you don’t want to see this.”
“Of course I do. Stand aside.”
“Sir, please. It’s . . . it’s horrible . . .”
Meddthal could feel the hairs on his arms rising; cold foreboding struck like a blow. His younger brother Filis had been missing since the previous summer, disappearing on a routine trip from Andressat to Cortes Cilwan. Almost certainly Filis had been captured by the one man in Aarenis who would want an Andressat son in his hands: Alured the Black, self--styled Duke of Immer.
“It’s Filis,” he said. “Isn’t it?”
“There’s a letter, sir. To Count Andressat.”
Meddthal moved forward. “It’s more than that by the way you’re all acting. Stand aside. I must see to report to my father.” He braced himself for horrors: Filis’s head, Filis’s body. Then he saw it, and his breath came short, his vision darkened.
The box had been made with great skill, leather laid over a framework of wood. Filis’s face formed the top—-skillfully padded enough to show the contours, like a mask, though much flattened, the ears—-those distinctive ears—-forming a hideously decorative border to left and right. Meddthal struggled to think about that, not that it was Filis’s face, the familiar face of a brother he had loved and quarreled with. Not—-absolutely not—-about how it had been taken from Filis, whether Filis had been skinned before or after death.
He struggled to stay upright, to breathe, to hold back the nausea that threatened to shame him in front of all. He became aware gradually that the sergeant’s arm was around him, steadying him—-a strong, warm arm, and most of all a live arm. That his men were looking away from him, giving him time to recover, stirring about as if it were a normal morning and they were getting ready for another day. He dragged in one lungful after another of the chill air—-air that would never be warm after this. And looked again.
He could not unsee what he had seen. He could not unthink the thoughts that raced through his mind, deadly as a flight of arrows. He had known—-they had all known—-that Filis was likely dead, killed by Alured or at his command. They had told themselves that; they had even—-as his father had said aloud first—-hoped he was dead and past suffering. Had it been Filis’s severed head . . . even a body bearing marks of torture . . . it would not have been so bad.
Filis’s hair fell over the back of the box, carefully braided with ribbons in Immer’s colors and formed into a decorative knot. On one corner was a scar Meddthal recognized from Filis’s shoulder . . . then he saw the fine stitching that had attached that piece of Filis’s skin to the others. A tube—-it must be the message tube with the letter to Count Andressat—-protruded obscenely from Filis’s mouth.
Rage shook him as suddenly as horror had. That scum had planned all this to the last detail . . . to foul one of the year’s holiest days, Sunreturn, with such horror . . . to make of it not the day of hope and joy Midwinter Feast had always been but to stain it with the memory of Filis’s death.
“It was in a sack, tied with a green ribbon,” one of the men said. “There was a message: Send it to Count Andressat as a Midwinter gift from his liege, it said.” He pointed to the sack, crumpled on the floor, coarsely woven, and the ribbon with a wooden tag still attached.
Meddthal shook his head. “He has no liege, and it would kill him.” To his surprise, his voice sounded almost normal.
“You’re never going to hide it from him—-”
“No. I’m not going to hide it. But he will have word from me, to blunt the blade, before I send it. Now, however, I will open Immer’s letter. Simthal, is the food ready?”
“For Midwinter, sir? I thought—-”
“We have much to do, and days are short. We will eat, and we will prepare for the attack that is surely coming.” Already his mind was working again, offering alternatives and the problems with each. In Midwinter, no one could ride from this tower to Cortes Andres in one day’s light . . . but had Alured’s men sent a message directly to the Count? No . . . they wanted to unnerve the border guards first. “Tell the cooks: breakfast now. And we will observe most parts of the Midwinter ceremony, though we will not be fools and exhaust ourselves in games this day. We will honor Filis’s memory best by saving Andressat from the same fate.”
They nodded. Someone handed him a mug of sib, and he sipped cautiously . . . his stomach kept it down. The tears burning his eyes did not overflow. He took the tube from between the lips, leaving a gaping hole in the face, and untied the green and black ribbons.
It was written in blood; the rusty color could be nothing else. “Brother,” he murmured, and kissed it. Filis had died, no doubt a terrible death, but this was proof he was no traitor, as some had thought. The words made it clear what had been done and when and how. A terrible death indeed. The box had not required all of Filis’s skin . . . the rest had been made into a rug for Alured’s bedside—-“and as I stand on it each day, so will I stand on Andressat: master of all.” “The best parts” of Filis’s broken body had been cooked and force--fed to the Count of Cilwan and his wife before they were killed and their bodies fed to dogs, their skins added to the rug.
So Alured had killed not only Filis but their sister, and his father had lost two children. Thank the gods their child, the count’s grandson, was safe in Cortes Andres. A few tears slipped from Meddthal’s eyes. Nerinth had been married to Cilwan young, unwillingly and had endured years with that—-Meddthal cut off the thought. It would do no good now to despise Cilwan’s timidity and avarice. He blinked back more tears and read on.
The rest was yet more boasts and threats. Meddthal thought of burning it, saving his father that knowledge, but the old man would not thank him. He rolled the letter once more and put it back in the tube, then put the tube into his belt pouch.
Cooks had brought in bread, porridge, pastries, roasts; for a moment his stomach turned again. But vengeance required nourishment. Starving himself, heaving his food out: neither one would help him defeat Alured. He forced down a bowl of porridge and a slab of bacon. Others ate after seeing him eat. He went to the door and opened it, shut it behind him, then opened the outer door. A gray day, just enough light to see, barely past dawn. Low clouds like a lid shut them away from the sun. Wind cut through his clothes like a knife. He went back into the vestibule when the wind had frozen the tears on his face, and brushed the tiny ice chips away.
Kolfin was his best rider, and his own horse the fastest. Meddthal wanted to go himself, but if Alured did plan to attack—-and he himself would have—-in the next few days, he needed to be here to command the defense. He went back inside. “Kolfin.”
Kolfin stood up from the table. “Sir?”
“Finish quickly. Take two days’ ration, and you’ll ride my horse to Cortes Andres with my letter. Be ready to ride when I’ve written it.”
He sat down with pen and ink, and his mind blanked again. Filis. This . . . this abomination . . . but his father must know something, and as soon as possible. He wrote quickly, plainly.
Father. Bad news. Filis’s death proved; Alured has sent—-
He paused. He could not say it all, not like this . . .
—-proof of what he did to Filis. It is beyond my words to say. Laid on our doorstep here last night; no doubt it is Filis. I expect attack when he thinks we are unmanned by grief; I remain here to command defense but will come at your command, bringing what was sent. I send also the letter he wrote you, written in what I am sure is Filis’s blood, admitting he killed the Count of Cilwan and your daughter as well.
He sealed that, put it and the letter from Alured in a message bag, and gave it to Kolfin, who had already saddled Meddthal’s horse. “Take a spare horse,” Meddthal said. “Ride fast but warily. Those who did this may be looking to intercept any messenger.”
“Yes, sir.” Kolfin took the message bag; another soldier brought out another of the horses, saddled it, and transferred Kolfin’s saddlebags to the second horse.
When Kolfin had ridden away, Meddthal set about readying for attack. By midday, he had completed that chore as well as sending couriers to the two nearest towers to warn them. “Half of you must rest this afternoon,” he said. “If they attack, it will be when they think we have all spent a sleepless night in the dark after a day of grief and worry or perhaps drunken rage. Tomorrow—-or even the day after—-is when they will come.”
“What about tonight, sir?”
“Tonight we will do as we always do. Today and tomorrow, however, we will rest as much as we can, to be fresh when they attack.”
“And . . . that? Him?”
Meddthal looked at the table, at Filis’s face staring upward from the top of the box. It felt—-it was—-indecent to leave it there like any other box. But he could not close it into the storeroom . . . or put it outside . . .
One of the youngest men, Dannrith, spoke up. “Sir, someone dyin’ or dead should have a candle and someone by. They wouldn’t of give him a candle . . . We should.”
A scrape of boots on the floor as others considered that, and a low murmur, then they all looked at Meddthal. The silence lengthened as Meddthal tried to think, in a mind suddenly fuzzy, whether to say yes or no, where to put the thing, in here or in his quarters or . . .
“I’ll stay with ’im,” said another. And then a chorus of offers.
That settled it. “In here, then,” Meddthal said. “Bring a trestle and a blanket. We’ll do this right.”
Very shortly the grisly box had been placed at one end of a plank, with a blanket laid flat below it and Meddthal’s best cloak spread over it, hiding the face and making, with the blanket, a pretense of a body laid straight for burial. Though it was not yet sundown, they lit a candle, and one at a time, as if for a new death, each spoke a word about Filis, for all had at least seen him, if they had not known him.
Then Meddthal sent half of them to bed, to be wakened at full dark, and the rest took up their duties except for the watcher. At each turn of the glass another took his place. At full dark, when all assembled, the hearth had been swept clean and a new fire laid but not lit. Only the feeble glow of one candle outlined the shape on the board and the face of the one who sat beside him. The others turned their faces from the light and began the long night’s watch for Sun-return.
When it was Meddthal’s turn to sit beside his brother’s remains, he wondered if his father would send for him or for the box alone.
eddrin, Count of Andressat, looked at the face of his dead son and wept. Rage burned in his heart, but grief drowned it for the moment, and he made no attempt to hold back the tears. Let them fall; let them flow; let them be emptied like a bronze bowl so the flame of vengeance could burn higher.
When the tears ended, he looked more closely. Honoring the dead, especially those who died in war, required the mourners to see and respect every mark life had made on them. “We’ll give him his rightful colors,” he said, and began unwinding the complex knot that the braided hair had been coiled into. “He’ll not go under earth wearing that scum’s.” After the knot came the braids themselves. Three braids; his sons Narits and Tamir, Narits recalled from Cha earlier in the year and Tamir recalled from the south ward, each took one, and he took the last. Deft fingers unbraided the hair, pulled out the black and green ribbons.
Narits finished first. “You’ll want just one braid, won’t you, Father?” he asked.
“Yes—-we’ll have to comb it all.”
Narits took up the comb. “There’s blood,” he said.
“Of course there is,” Tamir said. Next to Filis, he had been the hothead of the sons. “What did you expect—-”
“The hair’s clean,” Narits said. “They must have washed it, or this didn’t bleed much—-” He had parted the hair and was peering closely at the scalp. “It looks . . . almost like . . . fingernails dug in. Not scratches.”
The others had finished now and leaned over to look.
“Let me finish,” Narits said. “I think there are more marks . . .”
“Of pain,” Tamir said, turning away. “What does it matter?”
Narits ignored him and ran the comb through the hair, parting it every half fingerwidth to look for marks. “It’s code,” he said finally. “Like the old scrolls. Father, can you read it?”
Andressat looked. “Not like this. Can you copy it, Narits, one mark at a time, onto paper?”
When he had done that, it was clear that the marks—-each a slightly curved line—-formed a definite design. “Alured’s work,” Tamir said. “Maybe an evil spell?”
“No,” Andressat said. “No, it’s Filis’s.” His voice wavered. “He . . . managed to give us warning. He must have known—-” He cleared his throat and went on. “Filis knew what was coming. With only his fingernails to use—-knowing Alured was going to send me his skin—-he used them where Alured would not see. Under his hair. Perhaps Alured told him he would leave the hair to make sure we recognized him. This—-in the old language of Aare, the old writing—-tells us that Alured is controlled by a demon inside him, a demon who looks out his eyes at times and has a different voice. That is like the stories from the north of the Verrakaien who stole bodies.”
He looked around at his family and his most trusted servants. “Think on this, any of you who thought Filis might be a traitor. Captive, alone, tormented, yet he thought of us—-of saving us—-and tore his own skin to warn us. Think what courage that took.” He bent down and kissed the hair, then the forehead, and finally the lips. “My son, you deserve every honor that we can bestow on you. You will be remembered as long as our lives endure. And you will not go under the earth but be borne aloft in Camwyn’s Fire, as if with a dragon for your mount. From Esea came all life; back to Esea you shall go.”
“By Camwyn’s Claw,” everyone responded. “It shall be done.”
“Though first I must write to the north,” Andressat said. “Lord Arcolin must know of this, and his king. Perhaps his captains in Valdaire can get word to the north even in winter.”
wo days later, the funeral pyre stood ready on the cliff just outside the walls of Cortes Andres. On it lay the box, now drenched in oil, and in the box was Filis’s badge. “If it is Camwyn’s will that this fire may send every bit of Filis left below, wherever it may be, on the same smoke rising to the sky, then I invoke Camwyn’s Curse,” Andressat said. “By the Claw and the dragon who bore it, and by the power of Camwyn and the dragon together, I invoke it.”
When they lit the fire, the flames roared up to the sky as if drawn by the air itself and burned the pyre completely; white ash lifted and swirled like snowflakes. Then far, far above, a white line of fire raced across the sky, from above Cortes Andres to the east, and vanished.
“Camwyn consented,” Andressat said. He felt hollow of a sudden, and then a pain as if a horse had kicked him in the chest took all his breath, and he knew he was falling.
Excerpted from "Crown of Renewal"
Copyright © 2015 Elizabeth Moon.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Wow. Like many others of Elizabeth Moon's fans, I had been waiting for this book. It did what was expected, and a little more. Almost all of the loose thread were tied off, and it left you with a nice feeling. I have only one complaint and that is of my own making. I hadn't read Liar's oath so wasn't able to enjoy this as much as I might have. This book more than the others harks back to conditions when Gird first started his rebellion. It will be interesting to see what comes next. The story does leave things open to be further explored such as what the kingdoms are going to do with all those with mage talents
Love Elizabeth Moon's books and this series did not disappoint.
I true loved this series. Can't wait 20 years for the follow-ups to these. 2 paladins oh the what a great series that will make. Semper Fi Ms Moon retired GySgt Micheal Walkner
Started off great but the 100 or so pages seemed a bit rushed in order to tie up the lose ends. I was glad that Kieri was able to see the end of his torturer, Sekkady. And I was thrilled that Dorrin appears to be a paladin of Falk.
have enjoyed all her books......this book and the series does not disappoint.....more please
I was disappointed in this book. I've loved the Paks series since Sheepfarmer's daughter but this book left a bad taste in my mouth. The Dues Ex Machina was quite literal in this book as at every turn everything was done but the god, saints or dragon leaving the characters quite flat. Even when that wasn't the case, the characters were too powerful; the great powerful enemy too easily defeated. I felt like I was reading a fairly bad fanfiction... The futures of some of the characters were beaten until the horse was dead (and then continued beaten until it was horsemeat) while others, including the whole reason for the series, Paks, was....nothing. I would have loved to have seen the ending including Paks returning home, the exact place 'Sheepfarmer's Daughter' started. I am still an Elizabeth Moon fan...Vatta's War, Serrano Legacy and the entire Paksworld up to this one were outstanding...but I can't help but feel very disappointed in this one.
I am sorry to miss other books in this series, I fell in love with Elizabeth Moons as a writer, when she began working with Anne Mccaffrey. This book lends its strength and scope to this inspirational working partnership. Crown of Renewal is the accumulating adventure about a dynamic and open mystical world. The main characters of this book, have worked together to save and lead the world. And now they have gain control of the political structure of a number of countries. Their wise and supportive union may bring peace to their world. But they have many dark and dangerous enemies, those who would kill children for their political gain, destroy countries, and control dark magic. With the Crown and jewels of unknown power they may find the peace they seek. This is a dynamic story with various characters that raise the simplicity of the story to an epic, with characters you need to know what happens next. I will go back and read the rest of this series.
This series was wonderful and this book tied up all the loose ends. I was left wanting more (especially about Dorrin and Camwyn) and hope that Elizabeth Moon provides it in the future.
An excellent conclusion to a wonderful series. There are a couple more loose ends I'd like to see wound up, but we can always hope for another series :)
This concluding book made me very pleased that I own the entire series. Went back and read them in sequence...such fun. I own copies of everything she has published...her development of characters is a joy and a delight.
Just started reading , and i am so happy to be back in the world of Paks. This is a great series. while i do prefer he first books, i am enjoying these continuations also
Solid Ending to an Exciting Epic Fantasy Series I would like to thank NetGalley and Del Ray for the opportunity to read this e-book. Although I received the e-book for free, that in no way impacts my review. <blockquote>Eight kingdoms in danger, an enemy that cannot die... Count Jeddrin has received a grisly message. His son, Filis, is dead, brutally killed by Alured the Black - the first move in his plan to take the eight kingdoms. But Filis managed to send his own message, telling of the dark forces that control Alured, warning of something more than human behind the man's eyes... Meanwhile, Dorrin Verrakai, last of a long line of magelords, must forever leave the home she loves in order to protect powerful magic relics created by her ancestors. For their power is desired both by Alured, and by the dark elves infesting the kingdoms. Searching for answers, her friend and King, Kieri, considers waking the magelords from their ancient slumber...<blockquote> The final book in this epic fantasy that was twenty-plus-years in creation untangles most, but not all, of the remaining snarled skeins that woven together formed the story as a whole. Although Ms. Moon has stated that this will be the final book in the series, and possibly in the Paksworld universe, she didn't tie-off any single thread belonging to the protagonists; leaving vast doorways through which one could come back to this world, refreshed, renewed, and ready to continue the story. While each of the main protagonists had their time in the limelight, overall it felt that more time was spent with Arcolin, Kieri, and Dorrin. That's not to say that other characters were ignored, for example we were treated to some more fascinating stories and pieces to help complete the gnomish puzzle. We also saw Mikeli, king of Tsaia, mature beyond his years, becoming a solid ruler and force for good. Nor was young Camwyn left out in the cold. . . his sense of right and wrong, combined with his love of Dragon, sent him on an unbelievable journey. Arvid, the Marshal-General, and many others are also featured, but with somewhat smaller roles to play. Duke Arcolin faces increased challenges, both at home and while on campaign. He has dealings with the horse nomads, several varying tribes of gnomes, facing off against evil iynisin, and increased responsibility from his liege lord, king Mikeli. He takes to marriage well, having selected an excellent partner, and loves his adopted son, so not everything he faces is a challenge, but much of it in loves new things for him to learn and adapt to. Being the only human gnome prince is just one of the things that requires continual adaptation and willingness to never stop learning, showing that he has grown past his fears of not meeting the standard set by the former Duke Kieri (now king Kieri). King Kieri has been tasked by the western Elves with waking the sleeping magelords in Kolobia, and transporting them out of Kolobia; allowing Dragon to seal the rock imprisoning the iynisin before even more escape into the world to inflict further damage. Yet the Elves can only tell Kieri that the magelords in Kolobia were enchanted with a combination of magery: magelord, Elven magery, and Old Human magery. Paks has also stopped to visit he and Arian and meet their twins. While she is there Kieri tells her of finding the glade where he and his mother were attacked, which somehow leads to a discussion of Sekkady, the evil magelord that had held the young Kieri captive, torturing and terrorizing the boy. Paks suggests to Kieri something he should have realized much sooner, and that conversation may be instrumental in saving his life later on. Dorrin is sent away by king Mikeli after an attack on the palace by some iynisin. She is told to take the enchanted regalia as far from Tsaia as possible - back to old Aare. They both realize that odds of her survival, let alone her return, are virtually nil. To do this she must give up her title, the cozy home she made, and means she won't get to see her people continue to prosper, nor will she see all her planned improvements. Yet she goes, and takes a route she hopes few will suspect, one which leads her through Lyonya, allowing her to say goodbye to Kieri and Arian. Her timing couldn't be better, as she is able to help Kieri detect bad magelords from good, getting rid of all the evil ones before she leaves. Dorrin's journey is not as she expected, nor is the ending expected. Though this book wraps up the series it felt both a bit rushed in places, and too tidy in others. There were characters that I felt were left hanging; it seemed as if they were being set up for something larger, but their situations were never completed. However, as I read the series straight through, but slightly out of order (<em>The Deed of Paksenarrion (Omnibus), Oath of Fealty, Kings of the North, Echoes of Betrayal, Limits of Power</em>, and then <em>The Legacy of Gird (Omnibus)</em>), that may have some impact on how I view the arrangement of the material. Even feeling that things were tied up too neatly in the end, my overall impression of the series as a whole is that it is clearly a 5 star series. This series is what many other epic fantasies strive to be, but few achieve.</blockquote></blockquote>
I too received the book icon without a book attached to it. I hope this will be fixed soon.