The Summer Palace (2008) is the third fantasy novel in the Annals of the Chosen trilogy, following The Ninth Talisman. In the previous volume, Boss and Lore were imprisoned by the Wizard Lord. Azir and Babble were killed at the Wizard Lord's command just as several wizards had been slain.
Sword had killed the soldiers who attacked the Chosen and then fled. Bow, Snatcher and Beauty had also escaped. But the current Wizard Lord was still alive.
In this novel, Erren Zal Tuyo kam Darig seveth Tirimsir abek Du is Sword, the Chosen swordsman. He has decided to wait for the Wizard Lord in the Summer Palace, which is outside the realm of Barokan and thus outside of the magic of that land.
Artil im Saltir -- the former Red Wizard -- is now a Dark Lord. He still has his soldiers looking for the Chosen survivors.
Farash nith Kerra is the Old Boss. He had betrayed the Chosen to the Dark Lord of Galbek Hills. Now he is the chief advisor of the new Dark Lord.
In this story, Sword returns to Winterhome. Disguised as a Hostman, he finds a way up the cliff to the Plateau. He gets himself accepted by the Uplanders who live there during the clement months and becomes part of the Golden Spear tribe. He dwells among them and learns their ways.
When the Uplanders leave the Plateau to winter in Winterhome, Sword stays in the Summer Palace. He finds a few useful items in the palace, but little food. Eventually, he learns that lir exist of the Plateau, but are only active during the winter while the ara birds are absent.
With help from the Upland lir, Sword prepares a secret entrance to the Summer Palace. When spring returns, he awaits the coming of the Wizard Lord. As the only Chosen available, Sword is determined to kill this Dark Lord.
This tale concludes the trilogy. Sword learns much about the Uplands and discovers the secret of the Ninth Talisman. The ending of this storyline is satisfactory, but leaves one wishing for more.
Highly recommended for Watt-Evans fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of exotic cultures, unusual magic, and a bit of romance.
-Arthur W. Jordin