The Unbeheaded King (The Reluctant King, #3)
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The Unbeheaded King

by L. Sprague de Camp
Release date: 1983
Type: speculative fiction
Genres: fantasyhigh fantasy

Three years earlier, Jorian had been the crowned King of Xylar. But the laws of Xylar dereed that each randomly chosen King must be beheaded at the end of a five-year reign. Jorian had a prejudice against losing his head. With the aid of the aged wizard Karadur, he managed to flee. The troops of Xylar were still hunting him, but so far he had managed to elude them. Unfortunately, he had not been able to bring his beloved wife, Queen Estrildis, with him, nor had he yet been able to find a means of freeing her from the palace in Xylar City.

Now, however, he felt his luck was about to change. He and the aged wizard, Karadur, were being flown through the night air in a great copper bathtub, powered by a demon under Karadur’s control. Ahead of them lay Xylar City. There, while the demon kept the bathtub hovering over the palace Joreina let down a rope and rescued Estrildis.

It should have been a foolproof scheme. How could Jorian forsee the chair and the dog? Or the unicorn in the forest of Orthomae? Or the demon Ruakh with its defective sense of identity? Or any of the other problems that always seemed to plague Jorian’s schemes and lead to further perilous adventures? Meantime, the soldiers of Xylar were closing in on him, and they were determined to make sure that he performed his kingly duty of being properly beheaded.

(updated 2016-11-01)

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