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For the Good of the Realm

by Nancy Jane Moore

$19 (paperback)
$7.95 (e-book) EPUB
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Anna d’Gart is both skilled with the sword and shrewd (not to mention discreet), a rare combination among the hot-tempered and rowdy Guards serving the King, Queen, and Hierofante, which is why she’s always the Queen’s first choice for carrying out sensitive assignments. Discovering that someone powerful is using magic to damage the Queen, Anna is plunged into political intrigue and a series of tough decisions. No fan of the uncanny, she’s forced to enlist the assistance of a witch—whose magical practices are strictly prohibited in the Realm and condemned by the Church.

With the aid of her flirtatious friend and fellow Guardswoman Asamir and their friends Roland de Barthes and Jean-Paul of the King’s Guard, Anna repeatedly matches wits with an opponent too powerful to be named. Intent on preventing war, preserving the Realm, and protecting the Queen despite the risks to herself and her fears about the ancient way of magic, Anna deploys all the means at her disposal—espionage, diplomacy, her sword, a powerful witch, and, of course, indomitable bravery.

Advance Praise

For the Good of the Realm is a sparkling tournament of a novel, full of thrills as well as feats of storytelling bravado. Moore has invented a feminist medieval otherworld that is egalitarian in its sword and sorcery, yet political intrigue ultimately rules as Anna, a stalwart member of the Queen’s Guard, collaborates with a range of surprising characters to foil the nefarious plots of a power-hungry Hierofante. Spirited and funny, this is a great read.
 —Lesley Wheeler, author of Unbecoming

For the Good of the Realm is a splendid, swashbuckling romp that captures the very spirit of the Musketeers. The author weaves palace intrigue, swordplay, romance and divided loyalties into a deeply satisfying fantasy adventure with women at the center of the narrative, wielding and negotiating power.
 —Tansy Rayner Roberts, author of Musketeer Space and The Creature Court Trilogy


This lighthearted, female-led fantasy adventure from Moore (The Weave) follows a pair of Queen’s Guards—staid, circumspect Anna and feisty, impulsive Asamir—as they become embroiled in the machinations of the rulers of Grande Terre. As the threat of war looms and a sinister undercurrent of forbidden magic becomes harder for Anna to ignore, the two women must out-fight and out-think the enemies of the realm in a series of duels and cloak-and-dagger intrigues. Moore’s plotting is relatively pared back, focusing on a handful of characters and a single political moment; it’s a refreshing counterpoint to the world-ending bombast of much secondary-world fantasy. The sword fights and worldbuilding will appeal to fans of fantasies of manners in the vein of Ellen Kushner’s works and historical adventure à la Dana Stabenow’s Silk and Song. However, the needlessly verbose, pseudohistorical dialogue (“the food and drink is most good in this establishment”) keeps the characters from fully coming to life. With a principal cast of mostly women, this is sure to appeal to readers looking for stories of empowered female characters that go beyond simply giving them swords.  
  —Publishers Weekly, March 2021

Moore gives a feminist twist to the classic swashbuckling adventure tale in this fantasy homage to The Three Musketeers. Anna d’Gart is a member of the Queen’s Guards in a country where the royal lineage has only recently been reunited after a long division between two noble houses. Anna’s best friend is Asamir. Asimir declares that she intends to follow a quiet religious life, though in reality she is more interested in chasing men and dueling. In a tavern, they meet two King’s Guardsmen, Roland and Jean-Paul, with whom (after an initial rivalry) they become friendly.

But while the King and Queen are for the time being working together, not all the powers in the Realm are happy with the status quo. In particular, the Hierofante, head of the church, appears to be working to restore absolute power to the king. And while on a secret mission for the queen, Anna sees evidence that, despite a strict ban on the use of magic, the Hierofante is making use of the forbidden powers to forward her agenda. In addition, the Hierofante appears to be behind a diplomatic crisis that arises between the realm and a neighboring country.

Anna is again chosen by the queen for a secret mission to try to set things right before an unwanted war breaks out. With Asamir she sets off—and learns that Roland and Jean-Paul are on a similar mission for the king. Thus begins an increasingly close partnership among the four—which also leads to closer personal ties. Further adventures, bringing increasing levels of dangers and intrigue, follow. In the process, we learn a fair amount about the realm, as well as about Anna’s background. As we’d expect in a homage to Alexander Dumas, Moore has the French ancien regime as her basic model, but she fleshes it out with interesting characters and settings, all without slowing down the adventure plot.

Moore also does a very creditable job of recreating the style of the nineteenth-century writers to whom the book is a tribute, a bonus for readers who appreciate something more ornate than most current writers offer. The author, in a brief introduction, doesn’t say whether she has plans for any more in this same vein, but I for one would be quite happy to see this become the first of a series.  
  —Asimov's SF, Peter Heck, July/Auust 2022

ISBN: 978-1-61976-187-2 (13 digit)
Publication Date: Jun 2021
paperback 278 pages