Review of LADY-PROTECTOR by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
A NOVEL OF THE COREAN CHRONICLES
Tor, March 2011
After the death of her father and her own execution of her traitor-uncle, Mykella has proclaimed herself the first Lady-Protector of Lanachrona. She has the strong support of the head of the Southern Guard, Areyst, but the treasury is empty, the rich merchants jealous of their privileges, and the lumber yards that traditionally support the nation's budget have already been over-farmed. Worse, foreign enemies, who had conspired with Mykella's uncle, are now mobilizing to attack and alien invaders apparently plan to take advantage of the confusion to take over the planet, draining it of all energy to support their own goals of creating a beautiful civilization that exists only for the very elite.
Mykella has one advantage--she was touched by an ancient entity that awakened her psychic powers. These powers allow her to reach into the life force of any opponent and kill them, as well as to travel instantly to anywhere connected by mysterious dark paths. Still, killing anyone who opposes her isn't going to create the kind of loving (or profitable) nation she wants. Then there's her sister, who believes that Mykella destroyed her chance at happiness when she executed their uncle and cousin.
Author L. E. Modesitt, Jr. (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of speculative fiction by Modesitt) continues his Corean Chronicles with a superior fantasy. Rather than concentrate on her killing her way to success, Modesitt has Mykella struggle with taxes, with finding honest and capable employees (it helps that she can tell when people are lying), with her love life, and with her own sisters. LADY-PROTECTOR tugs on the emotions as it moves into the final pages, delivering an exciting wrap-up as Mykella must confront both the alien invasion and the human invasion in close order.
I thought Modesitt relied too much on Mykella's ability to destroy her opponents' life force. I would have liked to see a bit more planning and a bit more cleverness in the ultimate showdown with either aliens or the human opponents. Still, I couldn't put this book down and found myself choked up as I read the final battle scenes and the chapter relating the return to Lanachrona's capitol.
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