Knight or Knave

~ 2nd Novel in the Cycle of Oak, Yew, Ash, and Rowan Series by Andre Norton

Written with Sasha Miller


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Knight or Knave

 

 

Synopsis ~

Write-up from the front flap of the 2001 dustjacket ~

Times are changing in Rendelsham. The old King is dead, and the foolish Prince Florian has assumed the throne. Florian's mother, Queen Ysa of the House of Oak, still controls the land from behind the scenes, but her job grows more difficult every day. Her unworthy, headstrong son is harder to control than her husband was, and she must spend more time than ever masking her own movements. The barbarian Sea-Rover clan presents problems from the edge of the Bog, Ysa's newest magical ally has been exposed as a traitor, and still the unknown yet encroaching threat from the North continues to grow.
Ashen, heir to the nearly dead House of Ash and illegitimate half-sister of the boy king, is the only force for good in the kingdom. To keep her further from the throne, Ysa has arranged for her to be married and far from Rendelsham—and Ashen, eager to be away from the predatory politics of the palace, is happy to go. But duty overwhelms personal desire in matters of the court, and soon she must return to Rendelsham for the good of the kingdom.
Through births and deaths, marriages and duels, love and betrayal, magic and force, the four Houses of Rendelsham can only survive by the strength of their unity—but is unity possible in such a court of intrigue as this one?

 

Write-up from the back of paperback edition ~

Times are changing in Rendelsham. The old King is dead, and the foolish Prince Florian has assumed the throne. Florian's mother, Queen Ysa of the House of Oak, still controls the land from behind the scenes, but her job grows more difficult every day. Her unworthy, headstrong son is harder to control than her husband was, and she must spend more time than ever masking her own movements. Her husband's illegitimate daughter Ashen, heir to the nearly dead House of Ash, still causes trouble by her very existence, and must never be given an opening to the throne. The barbarian Sea-Rover clan presents problems from the edge of the Bog, Ysa's newest magical ally has been exposed as a traitor, and nothing is going as Ysa had planned. And still the unknown yet encroaching threat from the North continues to grow. Through births and deaths, marriages and duels, love and betrayal, magic and force, the four Houses of Rendelsham can only survive by the strength of their unity--but is unity possible in such a court of intrigue as this one?

“Veteran SF and fantasy author Norton combines her formidable storytelling talent with coauthor Miller to creat a new series – the “Oak, Yew, Ash, and Rowean” cycle—that should appeal to adult and teenage fans of high fantasy. Featuring an engaging and courageous female protagonist, this [is an] epic tale of hidden heirs and unfolding prophecies.” – Library Journal

 

Write-ups from fans ~

Rendlesham's ostensible ruler King Florian is dead and his son Prince has assumed the throne. Queen Ysa however is still the ruling force in this country, though young King Flroian is harder to manage than his father was. And there should be other threats to the Kingdom more important than a foolish King: The barbarian Sea Rovers are almost at the gates, the Bog Dwellers are uprising, and there's trouble in the North.  The Old King's illegitimate daughter is the only force for good in the kingdom and the Queen has other plans. ~ SL

 

Book Two in the cycle of Oak, Yew, Ash, and Rowan, It picks up immediately after the events in To the King A Daughter. King Florian is getting married and Ysa has ordered Ashen to Rendelsham for the event. Florian sees this as an opportunity to get rid of his rival and orders his henchmen to kidnap her and take her to a remote location to be killed. Obern, who has learned that his wife has died, discovers where Ashen has been taken and rescues her. They get married. She miscarries and is taken back to Rendelsham to recuperate. While Obern is away for a spell, the king has Ashen dosed with poison to make her waste away. Upon returning, Obern again saves Ashen and duels with King Florian, runs him through but himself dies because the King has a poisoned blade and nicks him. Obern's son Rohan moves in with Ash and her new husband Gaurin. Rohan grows up and falls in love. He encounters a Magician the Ysa has hired for entertainment. She tries to recruit him but he turns her down. The magician who is really the evil sorceress Flaviell tries to sow unrest in Rendel. Rohan, with the help of Zazar unmasks her and she flees back to the frozen North to rejoin the Great Foulness in its march southward. ~ PG

 

KIRKUS REVIEW ~ Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2001
Second in the series begun with To the King a Daughter (2000). In the city of Rendelsham, Dowager Queen Ysa has somewhat reconciled herself to the presence of Ashen, the illegitimate daughter of her late husband, King Boroth. Raised in the dreaded Bale-Bog by Zazar, one of the Fates, Ashen has magic powers but has been instructed to learn, not practice. Ysa faces many problems, chief among them the great evil stirring in the north; eventually it will invade Rendel, so she needs all the help she can get. Second is the difficulty of controlling spoiled-brat King Florian; his attempt to abduct Ashen is foiled by Obern, a Sea-Rover with whom Ysa has forged an alliance. Now Ashen’s husband Obern challenges Florian to a duel, in which both combatants perish. Ysa becomes regent for Florian’s infant son, and orders Ashen to marry Gaurin of the powerful Nordors—thus making another alliance—but, thankfully, the pair falls instantly in love. As yet more plots swirl, Ysa grows blind to everything but the need to defend the realm, thus becoming beguiled by a sorcerer who seems intent on stirring up trouble. Obern’s son Rohan comes to join his adoptive mother. Here, the tree-symbolism, rather more prominent in volume one, recedes into the background.
A solid, if unexciting, independently intelligible addition to the series: should please fans and newcomers alike.

 

Various reviews ~ For more info and other listings see Articles about Andre

2001 Kirkus Reviews, April 01
2001 by Lesley Hatch in Vector #218

 

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Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (2001) Published by TOR, HC, 0-312-87337-9, $23.95, 318pg ~ cover by Luis Royo
  • (2001) Published by SFBC, HC, # 37197, $12.98, 318pg ~ cover by Luis Royo
  • (2002) Published by TOR, PB, 0-812-57758-2, $6.99, 318pg ~ cover by Luis Royo
  • (2017)  Published by Sasha Miller, DM, no ISBN, $7.95, 295pg

 

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Non-English Editions ~

  • (2003) Published in Poland; by Amber, 83-241-1163-8, 271pg ~ translated by Ewa Witecka ~ cover by John Howe ~ Polish title Rycerz czy zbój [Knight or cutthroat]
  • (2004) Published in Moscow, by Eksmo and St. Petersburg, by Domino, 5-699-07547-X, HC, 416pg ~ translation by N.I. Nekrasov ~ cover by Stephan Youll ~ Russian title Рыцарь или трус

 

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