The Palace, Book 2 of Laura Lond’s The Adventures of Jecosan Tarres trilogy, continues the story of Jeco, the young blacksmith’s apprentice sent on a special mission by a supernatural messenger. Having arrived at the king’s palace in the capital city of Kanavar, Jeco gets a job as a kitchen worker. He keeps his eyes open, getting used to his new life and hoping to find some clues as to how to proceed with his assignment, which is to prevent the coming war.
At first, Jeco sees no indication of any war or threat whatsoever. The luxurious palace life seems to run smoothly, regulated to precision by protocol, with everyone knowing and doing their job. Soon, Jeco gets a chance to distinguish himself and receives a promotion: he is transferred to work at the king’s library. There he meets Lord Farizel Narr, rumored to be the most powerful man in the country after the king and the only one who dares to contradict the hot-tempered monarch. To Jeco’s great surprise, the all-powerful lord is very friendly and not at all haughty. He takes interest in Jeco and, caring little that the boy is of low birth, offers to teach him history and languages. Jeco happily agrees, seeing it as an opportunity to learn more about the court and, possibly, about the war he is to stop.
Unlike Book 1, very linear, focusing primarily on Jeco and telling the story from his perspective, Book 2 paints a much greater picture. We are introduced to King Alvard, a strong and ambitious man, who probably would have been chopping off heads left and right if it wasn’t for Lord Farizel. Farizel, protected by shaky immunity (which is a whole different story why, but I don’t want to spoil your read), has taken it upon himself to be Alvard’s conscience, always speaking the truth to him and appealing to the good and reasonable part of his character. Amazingly, Alvard listens… to a point.
We never hear the reasons of King Alvard’s wish to attack the neighboring country of Tirgan spelled out. The Tirganians follow the teaching of the Book of Light – the book Alvard despises and considers a “collection of harmful superstitions,” but that’s not what causes his animosity. It is, however, the reason why the powers of Darkness, as we soon learn, want to crush Tirgan. While Alvard himself does not believe neither in the Light nor the Darkness, he nevertheless hires a magician as his new advisor – just in case, to see if there’s anything to it and whether magic can help him to defeat Tirgan. Henky-Roo, the magician, consults a demon he is able to communicate with; the demon’s advice is to target the ancient copy of the Book the Tirganians keep. Destroying the book will shake their faith, and shaking their faith will weaken their spiritual defenses.
The Palace is a complex work of Christian fiction. By “complex” I don’t mean “hard to read,” I mean that it is the kind of a story that gives you a lot to think about. You will see more in it each time you re-read it. The underlying spiritual message is clear, but the book is not written to preach; it is written for the same reason all good stories are told: to take you on a journey you will not soon forget.