||Nov 4, 2011
Thirteen inter-connected stories travel with the Sword of the title through history.
Throught the ages, it has been called by many names: Firebrand, Widow Maker, Hiss of the Wind. The souls of those who have wielded it and those it has slain imbue it with something akin to its own soul.
Abeth is the voice of the Sword. He tells of its role in man's past and future - from bloody inter-tribal conflicts in prehistoric Wales, through the Roman invasion of Britain, brutal thirteenth century Crusades and on to a terrifying vision of Earth in 2201, when humanity seeks to escape or redeem its planet.
As the story unfolds, the Sword emerges as a fearsome but vital presence: an instrument of vengeance and justice, a catalyst for the actions of men.
A fanfare of trumpets and drums rose above the general din, emanating from somewhere within the walls of the Sultan's palace.
The crowd quietened to a hush.
Another fanfare, closer.
The heavy wooden double door set into the wall to the left of the podium opened with a flourish.
The Sultan Nasir stood at the head of a military entourage, tall, resplendent in rich red silk, hand raised in solicitation.
He made his way grandly to the podium.
"My people!" he cried to the crowd, voice rich with emotion. "We give thanks to Allah! Today is our day!"
A spontaneous cheer sprung from the collective throat of the crowd. The Sultan waited until it died away.
A new lull descended.
As if prompted by some invisible signal, the penned Nubians raised their voices in unison, addressing the leader of their captors in Latin -
"God will smite you! The curse is in your midst!"
Nasir swung his burning gaze in their direction.
"Silence them!" he barked to the guards.
Several of the guards beside the stockade reached into its confines to carry out the command.
This could be his only chance.
What an interesting and unique approach to this historical/fictional/sci-fi tale! This is the story of a sword and its life through the ages as told by Abeth, the Sword's conscience. The Sword was forged of metal stronger than any known at the time and was slightly curved at the tip. The hilt was loades with many valuable colourful gems.
The story of this magnificent Sword opens in 223BC as a mercenary is fighting in Wales with the Sword he found when he was a boy. Throughout history, the possessors of the Sword are envied by their fellow soldiers; there's a mystique about it. Legends abound about the Sword and by 1100AD, it was allegedly King Arthur's Excalibur; by 1335 it had reached Africa; by the 1650s it was in the West Indies; by 1759 it was fighting in North America. By this time, it is believed the Sword can guarantee its owner immortality. After the American Revolution, the Sword eventually finds its way back to England and rests in a countryside museum for several hundred years. By 2201, many years after mankind has destroyed the ozone layer and some of the remaining civilisation is living in Domes, an Outside has found the Sword, but loses it to a creature of the deep ... where it still lies.
Abeth only knows what it has seen in battles since killing is its career. It is a fearsome dispenser of justice and vengeances as well as a sign of man's power and responsibility.
Pen Press Reader's Report
This is a very enjoyable, readable novel that successfully crosses the boundary between fantasy, folklore and science fiction. Spanning nearly 2500 years, from 223 BC to 221 AD, it traces the fortunes of the sword (which appears in various incarnations across the centuries as a symbol of power and human responsibility) and those who live and die by it.
Although there is a large element of fantasy in the book, it is set against a background of real historical events (the Roman invasion of Britain, the Crusades etc). The author appears to have done her research extremely thoroughly and this goes a long way to endowing the book with a vividness that is compelling. A vivid narrative style also contributes, and there are some nice lyrical moments as well as fairly graphic but not gratuitous violence.
Characters such as Rael, Lledur and Calaidra are skilfully brought to life, though the reader never stays with any of them long enough to get any real sense of character development; it is the sword that is the real 'hero' of the novel. Abeth, the not-quite-omniscient narrator, seems to appear and then recede completely in a somewhat haphazard way.
The book is well-structured and I felt the change of narrative tone as the historical periods changed was very well done - whether consciously or not. Its spiritual/ecological message makes itself heard without overshadowing what is essentially a really good story.
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