- See also Meta:The Phoenix Guards.
This book introduces Khaavren,Tazendra, Aerich, and Pel, and details their adventures in the Phoenix Guard, including how they tracked down and arrested Kathana e'Marish'Chala for a murder charge, and in the process negotiated the Treaty of the Pepperfields.
The novel begins with Khaavren setting out to join the guards. He encounters Tazendra and Aerich, and after observing a duel between the former and a card cheat, the three agree to travel to Dragaera City and join the Phoenix Guard then being formed under new Emperor Tortaalik. With Pel's introduction to their new captain, G'aereth, the foursome distinguish themselves with several encounters: against members of their own company, against members of the Army of the Thorny Rose, and against rivals in the White Sash Battalion.
As the plot thickens, the four become embroiled in the schemes of others at court and find themselves focused on the one person in the empire around whom all plans seemed to revolve: Kathana e'Marish'Chala. Khaavren and his friends set out to find Kathana, without knowing their ultimate purpose, and become increasing pests to the carefully laid plans of Seodra and her cohorts.
Having gained the friendship of Uttrik e'Lanya and the hospitality of Adron e'Kieron the plot appears headed towards a duel of tragedy, when an invading horde of Easterners is seen upon the horizon. With careful and dangerous negotiations, Khaavren manages to find a way to negotiate the Treaty of the Pepperfields, and all seems set to end well for our heroes. Aerich confronts Shaltre and regains his title, and Garland flees exposed as a tool of Seodra.
All is not fine, however, and only through some luck and clever planning are the four able to escape death. Khaavren himself is examined under the Orb and as the story is finally explained, the four are proven to have done a great service for the Empire.
- Adron e'Kieron
- Uttrik e'Lanya
- Lytra e'Tenith
- The four heroes return from their initial patrol
- Pel's convoluted scheme to ensure that their capture does not go unnoticed
- The four face down an army of Easterners
- Khaavren learns of Illista's treachery
- Khaavren under the Orb
(All copyrights Steven Brust, quotes for review and enjoyment only)
Aerich meets Captain G'aereth
"It would appear you have no blade."
Aerich bowed as a sign of agreement.
"Can you use one?" asked the Captain.
Aerich shrugged, as if to say, "Who cannot?"
"Are you then, a sorcerer?"
This time when Aerich shrugged it meant, "Only a poor one."
Aerich, as we can see, was very expressive with his gestures.
"It is also plain," (G'aereth) said, "that I cannot have you on duty with my other Guardsmen - we can't afford it. In the future you must patrol and team only with each other."
Pel bowed low at this and looked the Captain's eyes. He said in his mild voice, "Captain my lord G'aereth..."
"We ask nothing better."
Khaavren talks to the leader of the invading Easterner army
"How? You cannot be here to invade, therefore..."
"But, my lord, why can we not?"
"Well, because as you have done us the honor to observe, there are six of us."
"Therefore, you perceive, you are outnumbered."
Khaavren prepares to duel Uttrik, Tazendra gives some advice
"Well, you perceive how, in practicing, he strikes only at the air."
"That is not unusual, when preparing for a contest"
"No, and yet he seems to miss with every third stroke."
Paarfi undertakes a detailed examination on the virtues of brevity:
It would seem, therefore, that if we allow our readers, by virtue of being in the company of the historian, to eavesdrop on this interchange, we will have, in one scene, discharged two obligations; a sacrifice, if we may say so, to the god Brevity, whom all historians, indeed, all who work with the written word, ought to worship. We cannot say too little on this subject.
During Illista's final speech of hatred
"... You could have had several days of pleasure with me before I cast you aside. Instead you will have nothing but the axe. I hope you are happy with your choice... Guinn, Guinn, escort me out of here for I nothing more to say to this wretch."
The foursome discuss Kathana's actions
"He felt it was too melancholy to be a dragon, and not fierce enough. The Baroness, I am told, wished to demonstrate that she knew as much about ferocity as did he, and removed his head with her broadsword in the course of demonstrating this."
"And it was well done, too," affirmed Tazendra. "I'd have done the same, only..."
"I don't paint."
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