This is a new book in the Paks series, and the first of a trilogy. I can see why she suggests people read The Legacy of Gird
before this, because it adds a lot of background to things that happen in this one and people who are in this one. (For example, for those who read this, the blue cloth, crown, and jewels at the end are discussed much more in Liar's Oath
and we know where they came from.)
There's 471 pages and I was surprised that the last 100 pages or so had a lot of continuity errors. She uses the wrong name for a character in one place; another she has five posts and five guards but when she assigns them one to a post, one post gets two guards and one doesn't get anybody. Lots of errors like that. This is from Ballentine instead of Baen and I expected better.
Dorrin, a captain in Phelan's army, is the protagonist in this book. Paks and Kieri show up, but only in small bits. Kieri is crowned king of Lyonya and Paks and Dorrin are both there. The other Phelani are appointed to different jobs, Arcolin becomes Lord of the Northern Marches. These lines intermix, but I'll tell them separately:
Arcolin takes one cohort south to fill a contract and finds a lot of brigrands and bad merchants. It's a good thing he knows how to write a contract!
The crown prince of Tsaia, Mikeli, gets a letter from Kieri that tells about the battle with the Verrekians on the way to Lyonya and how he wouldn't have lived if not for Dorrin's cohort, Paks, and his relatives, the elves. Mikeli took the letter up to to superior staff and finds them dead. A Verrekai has killed them and makes Mikeli and his friends bound by magic. One of the friends had gone to get maps of the palace and when he came back was able to start to kill the Verrekai, which broke the magic, and the prince & friends were able to kill him. Mikeli puts out an Order of Attainder for Verrakain -- only Dorrin can live, because she ran away from them a long time ago. In fact, Dorrin is named Duke Verrakai and her purpose is to kill all her relatives or send them back to the capital to be killed.
When Dorrin was at Kieri's coronation, she had help from Paks and the Knight-Commander of Falk to release her magery, which is much stronger than anybody's they've seen. Mikeli gives her leave to use her magery only
against other magery, but there are a few times when she has to use it to make people live.
The Verrakain house is full of traps -- both physical and magery -- and Dorrin cleans out enough so she and the staff and cohort can live there. In the process, she finds a vault with items that talk to her. She also finds that her family & ancestors have a method of moving dying people into other people. In fact, they have children so they can move other people's minds into them.
Paks shows up just as Dorrin gets the invitation for the coronation and guarantees she'll take care of the house and land while Dorrin is gone. Dorrin takes the items from the vault to give to Mikeli. The Verrakai house in Verella is also filled with both kinds of traps and again, she makes just enough safe for her and her escort. She finds a room that needs to be cleansed by two Marshalls, who show up, but haven't cleansed by the end of the book. She shows the items to Mikeli and two senior royalty at her house, and tells them that the crown is talking to her. They agree that she'll give them to Mikeli and put them in the Treasury at the castle.
She gets set up for the coronation, but is told about the death of horses and she knows how and why they were killed. She tells one to stop the now-king from riding on his horse and she has another take her to see the grooms. She can see a Verrakai inside a groom body and finds out it's her father. She kills him anyway, and they find traps on many of the horses. After they clear them off, the procession starts.
That's the end of this book, and as you see, there's a lot of open ends. I liked it a lot and plan to buy the next two as well.