Honor's Paradox (Kencyrath 6)
by P.C. Hodgell
Cover Artist: Clyde Caldwell
Review by Mel Jacob
Baen Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781451637625
Date: 06 December 2011 List Price $15.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Honor's Paradox is the sixth novel in the Kencyrath epic series by P.C. Hodgell. As a result, for those not familiar with the previous novels, it takes some effort and heavy reliance on the lexicon to keep up with the action. The novel follows the progress of Jame, Lordan of Knorth and thus heir to her brother twin Torisen, the Highlord. A student at Tentir, a randon college for cadets who train to serve all over the kingdom, she is determined to graduate with honor. As a woman and at the mercy of clan rivalries, Jame is tested repeatedly. Survival comes at a price.
Ambition and politics made it difficult for Jame to succeed at Tentir. She is taunted and challenged at every turn. Members of the Caineron House want to discredit or kill her because no woman should be heir to the Highlord. Coordinated attacks occur too frequently.
One of her characteristics is a set of long, cat-like claws, which are an asset in battle. However, some animals such as horses shy away from her because they recognize her as a predator. She also has formed a bond that stands her in good stead with a rathorn, a fierce creature like a horse with vicious horns.
Among the creatures she must fight is a bear-like creature, once a great warrior and brother to the Commandant of Tentir. A Shanir, Bear still has some residual powers despite a major injury to his head. Jame senses that he is gradually recovering his powers, but he is maltreated by others except for his brother who must imprison him or kill him by order of the lord to whom he is bonded.
Jame's life is further complicated because of her bond with the more primitive Merikit and their periodic calls to go there for various observances on the solstices. Sometimes the calls come at inconvenient times, but Jame must answer them despite the personal cost.
The story is convoluted with many actors and relations that reach back generations and even to other worlds. Songs and dream sequences provide clues to Kencyrath history and Jame's experience, but readers mainly learn through her eyes. To understand the novel fully, readers are advised to read the earlier books in the series.