SELECT * FROM uv_BookReviewRollup WHERE recordnum = 609 Lord of Swords, edited by Daniel E. Blackston Book Review |

Lord of Swords, edited by Daniel E. Blackston cover image

Lord of Swords, edited by Daniel E. Blackston
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Pitch Black
Published: 2004
Review Posted: 6/23/2005
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 10 out of 10

Lord of Swords, edited by Daniel E. Blackston

Book Review by David A. Olson

Have you read this book?

Lords of Swords, edited by Daniel E. Blackston and published by Pitch Black Publishing, puts the sword back into the hands (and sometimes claws) of fantasy fiction. In this collection of 13 sword and sorcery tales a reader will find a woman who sets out to kill a god, a man who is literally married to his sword, a creature that steals a dead man's eyes, and all manner of witchcraft and sword work.

Although every story involves swords and magic, variety is the main strength of this anthology. There are sword and sorcery tales told reminiscent of the old masters, character stories, poetic tales similar to Beowulf, and pirate stories, to just name a few. Because of this wide variety, I found stories by authors that I truly loved and others that simply weren't for me.

I have to mention the wonderful artwork of Les Peterson and Loren Malloy which set the tone for each story (Yes, there is a picture for each and every story!) and for the anthology as a whole. I still wonder how the woman from the cover ended up in hell wearing a ball gown.

Below are the stories, starting with the ones I liked best.

"Dragon's Eye" by Beth Shope: A young woman, a half-breed, wants to escape the city and return to her people, but all that falls apart when a man sneaks into her hideaway. Despite a minor plot hole involving knives in prison, I thoroughly enjoyed this tale, especially the way all the story lines interconnected at the end. I also liked the fact that the protagonist didn't have the strength to simply crush her enemies. I look forward to more from Beth (this is her first sale) because she has a natural story telling voice that many people work for years to find and never achieve.

"The Woman in Scarlet" by Tanith Lee: What if a man were married to his sword, and wanted a divorce? This story culminates in a battle between the man and the strangest of opponents. This character story is the kind that I'll probably think about for quite some time because I found the character's choice (and the implications of it) so unusual.

"Blood Drop" by Joseph A. McCullough V: Pirates fight over a huge red gem, said to be the tears of a god. I'm not a big fan of pirate stories, but this tale left me spellbound from start to finish. The characters are interesting, the plot twists are fresh, and the narrative is seamless. Not only that, but the setting is quite different from any other in this collection.

"The King's General" by David Felts: How far would a general go to achieve victory? Long ago, the general went too far, as is revealed in a series of flashbacks. Now he has another choice to make--will he make the same mistake? This psychological tale was hard to put down, as I constantly wondered just what the general had done and would do.

"Something Dwells 'Neath Hannah Town" by D. K. Latta: A warrior with a magical axe that talks a bit like Yoda, an unexplained murder, and a witch. What more could a reader of sword and sorcery ask for? The strongest part of this story is the battle at the climax against a foe that is far more powerful than the hero. Although the mystery was a close second. If you like classic sword and sorcery, you'll surely love this tale.

"Champion" by Barbara Tarbox: A warrior goes to a blacksmith to have his horse's shoes repaired, only to find the smith isn't exactly who he expected. Barbara's easy-to-read style really made this story a fun, not to mention the way the layers kept peeling off as we find out what the smith truly wants. The battle at the end is a nail biter, as so much is riding on the outcome.

"The Slaying of Winter" by Vera Nazarian: A young woman from the warm south comes to the north to kill their god. The focus of this tale is the culture of the north and the young woman's desire for revenge. Although the story doesn't start moving until the fourth page, a thoroughly satisfying ending made this story an enjoyable read and well worth my time.

"Iron Hands" by Ray Kane: A man loses his daughter and his hands, but gains a desire for revenge. The battles are this story's strength. A few surprises await the reader in this story, although the title gives away one of them.

"Line of Blood" by Howard Andrew Jones: On a world covered with mist, an old king is dying, but who will take the throne? The battles in this story are great reads, but the plot fell a bit flat for a couple of reasons. First, I never cared enough about the characters because little times is spent developing them. It is almost as if the author expects the reader to know the characters from prior stories. Second, after the climax, a character had to explain the plot to the other characters (and the reader).

"Vali's Wound" by John C. Hocking: What would a god ask of a mortal? I found the answer surprising. This story is rich with atmosphere. However, a literary device used in this story felt artificial to me, ruining my enjoyment.

"That of the Pit" by E.E. Knight: The Blue Pilgrim comes to town to save a friend. I thought the best part of this tale was the Blue Pilgrim's well-developed religion. That's not to say that the plot twists aren't exciting too, because they are. However, I felt that the Pilgrim's powers are never challenged. I would love to see this protagonist set against a more powerful opponent.

"Viro and the Iron Circlet" by Jonah Lissner: In the caverns beneath a ruined town, a warrior seeks treasure. Rich details fill this sword and sorcery story, and the language verges on poetry. However, I didn't feel that it works well as a standalone story. I'm sure this would make a great chapter in a book about Viro.

"The Oath of the Gods" by Nancy Virginia Varian: A complex tale of gods, oaths, told in an old, poetic style. Because of invented words, sentences that seemed to have been written backward, and a convoluted storyline, I couldn't make any sense of this tale. That's not to say the writing wasn't skilled, but this story was simply too much work for me to understand, let alone enjoy. Fans of epic poetry will doubtlessly take great pleasure in this story.
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