Paragon Lost, a science fiction novel that feels quite medieval in tone and setting, is an intriguing, action-packed story of one man’s success, downfall, and ultimate vindication. Beaumont is a member of the King’s Blades, an elite group of young men who receive the best training to serve and protect their king or anyone of the king’s choosing. They are mystically bound to their wards until either their or their ward’s deaths, and magic conjurations improve their abilities and talents.
While the Blades are outstanding fighters, they are not of a noble class. Beaumont is no different. He arrived at Ironhall, the home of the Blades, as a young boy abandoned by his family. Always small for his age, he nonetheless captured the attention of the Grand Master, a man by the name of Durendal, and became the best of the Blades. In an unusual fashion, their king, Athelgar of Chivial, requests that three Blades be bound to Lord Wassail, an elderly man completely devoted to the king. His secret mission, eventually discovered by Beaumont and his fellow Blades Arkell and Oak, is to journey to Skyrria, a remote and rather barbaric land, to escort the king’s bride back to Chivial. Deception, treason, and much fighting ensue, but Beaumont successfully returns with the princess. Unfortunately, King Athelgar does not approve of Beaumont’s tactics and has him thrown out of the Blades’ ranks.
While on his journey, Beaumont meets, falls in love with, and eventually marries a feisty Isilondian girl named Isabelle. Completely devoted to Beau, Isabelle tolerates much more than should reasonably be expected of a wife, but her strength of character, loyalty, and irresistible beauty make her an admirable heroine.
After his ejection from the Blades, Beau and Isabelle find work as lowly servants. But more problems for the King manifest themselves, and Durendal seeks out the one man he knows can save another young Blade in trouble.
While I have not read anything else by Duncan, including the King’s Blades trilogy, I greatly enjoyed his writing in Paragon Lost. Great characters, quick dialogue, and detailed settings are found throughout the book, and the story never seemS slow or boring. The setting is reminiscent of medieval Europe; I picture Chivial as England, Isilond as France, and Skyrria as Russia, especially as the Skyrrians have names like Igor, Boris, and Dimitri.
Paragon Lost, along with two future Chronicles of the King’s Blades, are set after the Tales of the King’s Blades, and are independent of each other.