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Lord of Swords, edited by Daniel E. Blackston Book Review | SFReader.com
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
"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 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
"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
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