The Lord of the Rust Mountains (The Faraway Paladin #3 – Secundus)

Title: The Lord of the Rust Mountains

Author: Kanata Yanagino

Series: The Faraway Paladin #3 – Secundus

Setting out after the dragon, Will and his team make their way up the river towards the back door to the Iron Mountains. But this terrain has been unknown since the demons overran it two centuries before, and simply getting to the dragon will be a quest in and of itself.

I like how the books keep teasing that old loan Mary, Blood, and Gus made when they slew a wyvern. I hope Will can go after it soon. And Reystov’s fishing adventures cracked me up. He needs to find another fishing spot. Or maybe better lures.

There’s plenty of fun on the way to the dragon. Al gets to see much more clearly how Will behaves in actual combat (and the discussion about Volt’s hero who slew a hydra by himself was funny). Something I really appreciated is that Will actually steps back for a number of these fights and takes a more supportive role, instead of trying to do everything himself. Since Will has magic and benediction, he’s just as effective in a supporting role as he is on the front lines, and although he’s strong and proactive he recognizes that doesn’t mean he has to do everything.

I like the secret they find on their way to the mountain. I’m going to be vague to avoid spoilers but I loved the character interactions, and what it might possibly mean for the future. Specifically Menel’s future (although his choice of words could easily cancel that out, but I think he’s still got a chance).

And I love the deepening layers of temptations that Stagnate keeps dropping on Will, and his response to them. And what ultimately becomes of them. Will is utterly opposed to Stagnate—but both Stagnate and Gracefeel are, in a way, gods of second chances. His understanding and respect for Stagnate results in several very interesting conversations, and Stagnate is beginning to respect him in return.

The confrontation with the dragon was amazing. Valacirca proves as unpredictable as Gus warned, and I like that Gus’s suggestion to see if there wasn’t another way to resolve this gets explored at such depth. Will—at least once he’s not panicking—can clearly see the benefits and disadvantages of the alternative.

And this is THE fight that tests their teamwork to the absolute limit. It’s epic in so many ways. (And that ending . . . Ouch). This is the ultimate fight so far, and as expected of a dragon, Valacirca is both terrifying and complex, able to use multiple strategies to maximum effect. I do like how Will points out that because this is life, not a game, and therefore not tied to stats, there’s a chance (however small) that he can win. And conversely, even if he’s dealing with small fry, he needs to stay alert because there are multiple ways a weaker foe might be able to capitalize on an opportunity and take him down.

This was a wild ride all the way through. It’s a struggle of dwarves who are fighting to take back their pride as a people, to somehow erase that failure of 200 years ago that drove them away from their mountains. It’s Will’s struggle to find bravery in the face of something he knows he’ll need a million miracles to defeat, and the courage to choose to not give up even in the face of horrific opposition. Everyone is choosing to move forward. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

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