A lot of Dave Duncan fans let out a squeal at the end of Lord of the Fire Lands
, the previous Tale of the King's Blades. (The Gilded Chain
was first in the series, and Sky of Swords
comes in third.) It seems that Duncan, in this ingenious, Rashomon
-style series, had managed to kill off King Ambrose twice in just two books, and in a different way each time.
But this devilish author knew what he was up to, and Sky of Swords promises to answer all your questions. Just as The Gilded Chain jumped back and forth in time and Lord of the Fire Lands followed a concurrent tangent plot from Gilded Chain, Sky of Swords will likewise tie your brain in knots for a spell. (It should be stressed that all of these books are standalones, following different characters through overlapping timelines--you don't need to read them all, but each is much richer for having read the others.)
Swords picks up Fire Lands' crossbow-bolt-between-the-eyes finale somewhere around page 80. But this time we're looking through the eyes of Princess Malinda, this book's irascible (she is Ambrose's daughter, after all) but ultimately likable heroine. We learn about Malinda's bumpy upbringing, but Swords doesn't really get interesting until the aftermath of Ambrose's death, the ensuing threat of civil war, and the outcome of Malinda's trial for treason (which begins on page 1, but in true Duncan fashion, doesn't actually happen until near the book's finale). What's the best part of Sky of Swords? Not to ruin anything, but you've probably already read its conclusion--in the final pages of Gilded Chain. --Paul Hughes
From School Library Journal
YA-In this third entry in the series, Princess Malinda is furious when her father, King Ambrose IV, arranges her marriage to the Baelish King Radgar in order to end a decade-long war. She fully intends to go through with it, however, until her groom gives her the option of walking away. So she does, and he assassinates her father in full view of the wedding guests and the King's Blades, an elite group of magically bound, magically enhanced swordsmen. The princess's baby half-brother is named king, but when the sickly child dies, Malinda seizes the throne, killing the Lord Protector in the process, but unfortunately letting two other contenders for the crown slip through her fingers. She is eventually imprisoned and accused of treason. A small band of Blades comes to the rescue, but rather than pursue her claim and subject Chivial to civil war, she determines to try a risky sorcerous ritual. This book, like the others, is an entertaining, swashbuckling adventure. The Blades are charming characters with legendary prowess at more than just swordplay. Malinda is a daring, stubborn, and kindhearted young woman who always acts with courage and aplomb. The realm of Chivial becomes more defined with each book, but there is plenty left for Duncan to explore.Susan Salpini, Purcellville Library, VA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The third tale of the king's blades is a prequel to The Gilded Chain
(1998), but like that book and Lord of the Fire Lands
(1999), it reads well on its own--a rare virtue in these days of interwoven googolplexologies. Its basic story is the struggle of princess, later queen, Malinda, to ensure that her baby brother, Amby, succeeds to the throne. She has her beloved Ragnar as an ally, but precious few others, for the king's blades have been intrigued and enspelled into exile or hiding. Like their apparent model, Dumas' musketeers, the blades are very hard to keep down, however, when treachery is afoot, and they return to help Malinda in a series of well-drawn plots and counterplots that end, if not happily, at least with some hopefulness. Duncan may not always attain high artistry, but he always avoids stupidity, and Malinda is a worthy addition to fantasy's phalanx of valiant ladies and quite plausible in the context of her world. Roland GreenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
"A truly great story...Ducan is a true master of his craft." -- -- SF Site
About the Author
Dave Duncan is an award-winning author whose fantasy trilogy, The Seventh Sword, is considered a sword-and-sorcery classic. His numerous novels include three Tales of the King's Blades -- The Gilded Chain, Lord of the Fire Lands, and Sky of Swords; Paragon Lost, a previous Chronicle of the Kings Blades; Strings, Hero; the popular tetralogies A Man of His Word and A Handful of Men; andthe remarkable, critically acclaimed fantasy trilogy The Great Game.
--This text refers to the
Mass Market Paperback