Books: Spice & Spectacle

THE KING'S CAVALIER (377 pp.)—Sam-uel Shellabarger—Little, Brown ($3)..

"At your service," said Blaise ... the scar on his nose showing whiter than usual. "Certainly you aren't conceited enough to expect the honor of being chastised by my lord in person. He has better things to do. But he'll not deny me that pleasure. I'll satisfy you on horse or afoot with any weapon you please. Or make it now . . ."

Young Blaise de Lallière ("There's promise in him . . . Like France") never cold-shoulders a villain's challenge, never flinches in his dedicated task: foiling a 16th Century Bourbon plot against...

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