The Phoenix Guards
Orb (Tor), Oct 2008, $14.95
In the Dragaeran Empire, the swordsman Khaavren tries to become a member of the Imperial Guard whose mission is to protect the new Phoenix Emperor. On his trek to the capital, he meets three other somewhat wary travelers (Aerich, Tazendra and Pel) also seeking positions with the Imperial Guard. The foursome becomes friends vowing to be there for one another.
They become Imperial Guards, but soon know their pledge to one another is critical if they are to achieve and survive their mission to protect the royals. They soon uncover seditious plots against the Emperor and the Empire and Khaavren, which require them to make bold intelligent decisions to stay alive and keep Dragaera and their royal charges safe.
This is a reprint of an early 1990s tale that obviously pays homage to Alexandre Dumas. The saga occurs about a millennium before the time that Vlad Taltos roamed Dragaera. The adventures of the four musketeers are fun to follow though none come across as more than courageous, loyal, but somewhat superficially charming rogues who lack depth. Still THE PHOENIX GUARDS is an engaging swashbuckling sword and sorcery fantasy.