by Mark Nelson (Hadley Rille Books)
In The Poets of Pevana, Mark Nelson introduced us to his world’s odd theology, where the gods speak through and bless poets and the principal goddess’ tears are both solace and weapons of fate. King’s Gambit is the second book in his Pevana series, and tells the further tale of the unlikely young warrior poets who bested evil in the previous book. Here, King Roderran comes to call on his relative Donari, the prince of Pevana, who has little choice but to follow him into a disastrous war where the king hopes that his new concubine will provide him with an heir while Donari, the widowed poet Eleni, and Donari’s Pevannan forces are destroyed in battle.
It’s a braided plot, where we go back and forth between the doings in Pevana and two of its wandering exiles: Devyn and Talyior. Like Eleni, they’ve been pierced by darts touched by the goddess Reina’s tears, and their lives are to be bound up in the huge changes coming. They take refuge in a southern port city only to learn that the corrupt “priests” that the avaricious kings have dispersed have also taken over its places of worship, but not the hearts of its citizens, or of its lord.
I’m not going to tell you more about the intrigue, love sacrifice, and battles that ensue, but this is a worthy addition to the library of anyone who likes traditional fantasy. I enjoyed it immensely.