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Paragon Lost


The swordsman school of Ironhall never turned out a bad Blade, but some towered over all the rest. When King Athelgar was planning to send his most trusted aide on a vital mission to distant Skyrria,he wanted him to be guarded by the three very best Blades available. Grand Master never hesitated in his choice: Oak and Arkell were superb, and young Beaumont was so outstanding that the whole school called him the Paragon. His heart was dauntless and his mind as keen as his sword. Within days he proved his worth, for without his skills his ward would never have arrived in Skyrria at all. Which might have been a very good thing, for that harsh domain was ruled by the bloody-handed Czar Igor. Although the tyrant had his own sinister magical bodyguards, he soon decided he wanted Blades of his own as well -- and would stop at nothing to get them. Beaumont could outwit the autocrat and his minions, but even he could not withstand fickle chance and the disaster it dealt him. He returned home to Chivial in disgrace to face the King‘s rage and expulsion from the Order. That is not the end of the story, though.  


" Duncan offers plenty of swashbuckling fantasy adventure in this outstanding stand-alone novel.... Rich, evocative language and superior narrative skills lift this mix of quest, swordplay, politics, love and honor high above the usual run of genre fiction. This book can only enhance Duncan's reputation as one of the leading masters of epic fantasy" - Publisher's Weekly

" Inventive, labyrinthine, witty, and thoroughly engaging: Duncan rarely disappoints, and here he outswashbuckles himself." - Kirkus Reviews

" The novel is a gem of plotting and characterization. . . It is magic -- that essential stuff of fantasy -- that makes the Blades what they are, and the subtle presence of magic throughout Duncan's Eurania makes this a realm that welcome fans of Tolkinesque high fantasy and Howardian sword and sorcery alike." - Books in Canada

" A tightly written, rather Dumas-like story, lighthearted at times but never frivolous or dumb. If Duncan hasn't already got a serious reputation for humorous fantasy and strong female characters, this book ought to cement it for him. Followers of the King's Blades will be well pleased. " - Booklist

" Dave Duncan is one of the best writers in the fantasy world today. His writing is clear, vibrant and full of energy. His action scenes are breathtaking and his skill at characterization is excellent. With adventure, swordplay, magic and a host of vivid characters, Paragon Lost is an outstanding fantasy tale. " - Writers Write

" Duncan has added a first-rate tale to an already superb saga. Paragon Lost is an exceptional example of Heroic Fantasy with dashes of Sword and Sorcery. With the rich history of the Blades hinted at in the four volumes Duncan has thus far given us, one can only hope that he extrapolates at the hints of the many Blades whose chronicles are yet untold. " - sffworld

" Swashbuckling action and fantasy adventure add spice to a story of one man's struggle to find his own meaning of loyalty and courage. Recommended for most collections, particularly where the series is in demand." - Library Journal

" Duncan kept me entranced and affixed to my chair for many hours as he had done before with his previous "Tales Of The King's Blades." As usual, his fluid, seemingly effortless presentation brings this story of intrigue, love and redemption to vivid realization, raising the mandatory tear to eye at the conclusion. " - Yet Another Book Review Site

Sample Chapter

The so-called King‘s Room was a cubicle for private conversation. Furnished with a timber table and two benches, it was just as cramped and pungent as the taproom outside, but the pebbly glass in its diamond-pane windows let in a fair light. The solitary occupant rose as Isabelle entered, an unexpected courtesy. A gentleman, certainly. His hose, doublet, and skirted jerkin were of fine stuff and beautifully tailored--not quite in the latest mode sported by court dandies, but quite acceptable on an older man--and his knee-length cloak was a magnificent gold brocade, trimmed with a collar of soft brown fur that tapered all the way down the edges. Yet he was clean-shaven, in defiance of current fashion, and the silver hair visible below his halo bonnet seemed clumsily cut. He bore his years