Covenants, the first book of Lorna Freeman’s Borderlands series circles around and comes to an end pretty much where it started. The King’s Own picks up very shortly after this, and has the further adventures of Rabbit after the Border Patrol returns to Freston.

However, while Rabbit is still the central character, there’s a fairly extensive changeover in the rest of the cast. Some carry over, but Suiden and most of Rabbit’s unit are largely absent as Rabbit gets transferred from the Border Patrol (Horse) to the King’s Own Guard. This means that King Jusson IV and his inner circle take over as the bulk of the supporting cast, and the King is visiting as part of a progress to make sure everything’s nailed down after some of the events of the first book.

Of course, Freston, a place so safe that politically sensitive officers and men can be assigned to it isn’t safe. Whereas the first book was an extended trip with three major locales during the course of it, everything here happens in or around Freston itself. There’s some really annoying parts, where important happenings get basically ignored for other events until things circle around and the first bit bites everyone again. There’s a lot of that here, and one part of it is more a problem with delivery. Someone is trying to meddle with Rabbit through his dreams, and this doesn’t really go anywhere because, well, they’re dreams, and Rabbit doesn’t have any clear memory of them when he wakes up. But it’s told clearly with Rabbit’s normal lucid narrative, so you get even more info that the characters aren’t acting on.

However, some of the problems of the first book are much improved. Freeman had a habit of dropping wild, over-dramatic pronouncements as a end-of chapter… ‘cliffhanger’, and then the next chapter would pick up a few minutes later after things have been partially sorted out and calmed down again. There’s some true cliffhangerish bits here, but the bait-and-switch melodrama is gone, which really makes the entire book flow better.

As can be expected, there’s a fairly large cast, lots of action, lots of Rabbit (less, actually) being clueless, and something of a pretty creepy mystery for the first half. Sadly, there is still something of a habit of perfectly competent bad guys suddenly throwing out their smarts in a panic when Rabbit gets near, though there’s much better reasons for most of that this time. Overall, still an extremely good story, with some real improvements over the original.