Friday, 9 September 2011

Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner


On the treacherous streets of Riverside, a man lives and dies by the sword. Even the nobles on the Hill turn to duels to settle their disputes. Within this elite, dangerous world, Richard St. Vier is the undisputed master, as skilled as he is ruthless--until a death by the sword is met with outrage instead of awe, and the city discovers that the line between hero and villain can be altered in the blink of an eye.

Swordspoint is a story of intrigue, that pretty much follows Richard St. Vier, a swordsman for hire, and the best there is. It starts with him coming back home, after his latest duel, with the gossipers of Riverside trying to figure out who hired him. This is a mystery also discussed by the nobles of the Hill.

The world of Swordspoint is very well built, with the rich families that live on the Hill, and the poor and the dangerous people on Riverside. The society of Swordspoint is even better built, because there is so much detail that it feels real. The nobles have their protocols and rules, traditions and manners. They resort to swordsmen to fight their duels, some times to the death, as that is the socially accepted way to kill an enemy.

But even if the story follows Richard, there are other characters as well. Alec, Richard's lover, is a mystery to everyone, a drop-out from the University, who gambles away all his money and picks fights he cannot fight. There is Michael Godwin, a young noble with aspirations to power, who decides that he will learn how to fight with a sword, not just look pretty with it, like most of his counterparts. Duchess Tremontaine, to all appearances with no political ties, but who works behind the scenes to get what she wants. And a multitude of other characters, all with their struggles and passions.

I liked Swordspoint. during the time I read it, I didn't want to put it down. But I wanted to solve the mysteries that kept appearing, trying to see through all the intrigue. But I never really connected with Richard St. Vier, and disliked Alec immensely, although I think Alec was supposed to be dislikable, it was part of his persona. Of all the characters, the one I liked most was Michael, and I got little of him.

I had expected to love Swordspoint – the reviews I had read and the three pages of blurbs certainly made me believe I would, but that was not the case. It was a well written, and well thought off story, but once I was done with it, I didn't really care to know more about it.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Other Reviews: starmetal oak book blog

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  1. Secondary characters with little importance are definitely your thing. xD

  2. It is, I'm afraid. But Michael had some importance, his story just ended way too soon, with little information - he is sent away and that is that :S