A powerful fantasy novel in its own right, set in an expansive and complex fantasy universe, The Price of Blood and Honor brings to a grand climax the tale, begun in The Well-Favored Man and A Sorcerer and a Gentleman, of the kingdoms of Landuc, Noroison, and Phesaotois. The bitter, centuries-old feud between Emperor Avril and his wizardly brother, Prospero, has broken into open warfare, and events and armies are unstoppably on the move. In the midst of all this, Prospero's two grown children - staunch, unworldly Freia, and her urbanely sorcerous half-brother, Dewar - find themselves thrust into the very heart of the action.
The Price of Blood and Honor is a rich, complex, and splendidly high-handed work, full of epic tragedies and comedies of manners, wars and romances, primal acts of creation, gritty military details, intricate espionage capers, talking animals, mythic beasts, ducks, and a great deal more besides, in the story that is the climax and completion of this series.
Willey's latest completes the fantasy series that began with The Well-Favored Man (which earned her a John W. Campbell nomination as Best New Writer) and continued in A Sorcerer and a Gentleman (1994). Defeated by his brother Avril in the War for control of the Throne, the sorcerer Prospero must--like his Shakespearean namesake--renounce his powers and turn his lands over to the new emperor. Prospero's children are also left vulnerable by the defeat. Although his self-assured son, Dewar, no mean student of sorcery himself, is more than comfortable in Avril's Court, Prospero's half-wild daughter, Freia, feels alienated by the petty plots and intrigues of the aristocracy. Behind the tangled schemings of the Court, however, are serious maneuverings for control of the Empire. Willey presents her story with the low-key wit and style her readers have come to expect. Her prose is smooth, at times sparkling, with more than a few forays into Shakespeare and Jane Austen for droll effect. Admirers of skillful writing and lively characters will enjoy this elegant high fantasy.