Format: Paperback, 368 pages
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Genre: Fantasy / Urban
The first novel in the Maradaine Elite series blends fast-paced high fantasy and political intrigue.
Dayne Heldrin always dreamed of being a member of the Tarian Order. In centuries past, the Elite Orders of Druthal were warriors that stood for order, justice, and the common people. But now, with constables, King’s Marshals, and a standing army, there is little need for such organizations, and the Tarian Order is one of the last remnants of this ancient legacy. Nevertheless, Dayne trained his body and mind, learned the arts of defense and fighting, to become a candidate for the Tarian Order.
When a failed rescue puts Dayne at fault for injuring the child of a powerful family, his future with the Tarians is in jeopardy. The Parliament controls the purse strings for the Order, and Dayne has angered the wrong members of Parliament. He returns to the capital city of Maradaine in shame, ready to be cast out of the Order when the period of his candidacy ends.
Dayne finds Maradaine in turmoil, as revolutions and dark conspiracies brew around him, threatening members of Parliament and common people alike. Dayne is drawn into the uproar, desperate not to have one more death or injury on his conscience, but the Order wants him to stay out of the situation. The city threatens to tear itself apart, and Dayne must decide between his own future and his vow to always stand between the helpless and harm.
The Way of the Shield is the first installment in author Marshal Ryan Maresca's Maradaine Elite series. The fourth series of the Maradaine universe tells the story of Dayne Heldrin, an elite warrior and protector of the city of Maradaine. This is a series set to the back drop of high fantasy, which means lots of characters, political machinations, with the introduction of the grand ten, as well as plenty of action, magic and adventure.
The Maradaine Elite series introduces a new layer of the city—the aristocracy and powerful officials—building on the perspectives introduced in the other three Maradaine series for which you will see some crossovers with the other three series. In fact, Dayne and his colleague Jerinne Fendell appear in the next Maradaine Constabulary novel which I will be reviewing soon. This book shares the same setting with the authors other series – the sprawling metropolis of Maradaine, populated by mages, vigilantes, police investigators, criminals, cults, politicians – and now, knights.
For the first time, we are introduced to the Tarian Order, an order with a code who carry shields and swords. This group is one of the rare groups that hasn't been consumed by the navy, or the army, or the King's Marshal's. Dayne has spent 2 years in a place called Lacanja with his mentor. After a rescue goes sideways, Dayne is recalled to Maradaine where he discovers that his actions haven't been forgotten by the elite who choose who will gain a promotion to the next level.
In the meantime, a group of wannabe Patriots decide to try to kill members of Parliament, and he and Jerinne, one of the initiates, become involved in trying to stop the plotters, whose real leaders are very high in status. Dayne is a solid character who puts others ahead of himself. He is also self-punishing and self-deprecating at times. In fact, due to his attempt at saving an innocent from a vindictive villain who readers will see again soon, there is a very dark possibility that he won't be granted a promotion to the position of Adept.
This would weigh heavily on anyone in the same position hoping for a promotion to a position he is more than qualified for. Dayne also has an interesting relationship with the daughter of a Duke which we really need more background information on. Dayne isn't the only focus of this story. Jerinne Fendall is a 2 year initiate who gets caught up with Dayne's desire to see justice and to stop a serious threat towards those who serve in the Parliament.
The most curious characters of this book are the Grand Ten. These people come from all walks of political life and have gathered together to create a conspiracy not like anything that Maradaine has seen in a very long while. There is a very deep corruption in this city where not everyone gets a fair slice of the freedom pie. It is so corrupt, that the same people are being elected over and over again while the King seems to be vacant from his duties.
This is a world that doesn't allow women the opportunity to vote, but women like Jerinne are able to stand tall as an initiate and join Dayne is fighting for what's wrong, and not what's easy. The Way of the Shield is full of intrigue and interesting characters, I will be eager to see where the author takes his characters next. As I said before, Dayne and Jerinne also appear in the next Maradaine Constabulary series which I think you will find interesting. I like the crossover aspects giving each story a bit more depth and excitement.