Skip to main content

The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner

I finally got around to reading this one after reading review after glowing review by a host of well-known authors, among them Tamora Pierce, Neil Gaiman, and Holly Black. The Privilege of the Sword is indeed high, swashbuckling fantasy that reads like a cross between Georgette Heyer and Guy Gavriel Kay. And for the first half of the book, I really enjoyed it.

Katherine is a very nice young noblewoman from the country. When her uncle, the Mad Duke, offers to raise her family out of impending poverty in exchange for Katherine coming to live with him in the city and training as a swordswoman, she doesn't even think about it twice. To save her family (and perhaps make a good marriage in town), Katherine jumps at the chance. Trouble is, her uncle really does appear to be "mad" and, in lieu of joining him in his bouts of debauchery and midnight carousing, Katherine is left to fend for herself. After her initial horror at wearing men's clothes, she surprises herself by taking to the art of sword fighting quite quickly. The duke's faithful servant Marcus takes her under his wing as well. The two of them quickly become friends and partners in their secret quest to find out just what the devil the duke and his secret, highborn visitors are up to.

Its rich, heady atmosphere and fast pace are the story's strong points. And the Mad Duke Tremontaine is priceless. I never did grow very close to Katherine, though. And her developing relationship with Marcus seemed forced, as though they got together for lack of having anyone better around. I didn't buy that they really cared that much for each other. I did buy that they both cared about the duke, and with good reason. I wanted more on his character and the machinations of his Hamlet-style, mad north-north-west mind. The story felt like it wanted to go in so many different directions, and explore so many characters at once, but didn't have the necessary space nor sanity to do so, that it was hard to care about the characters you wanted to. I enjoyed it for the most part. I just wish it had stayed in one place long enough for me to really fall in love.

Links
Bookshelves of Doom Review
Bookslut Review
Emerald City Review
Strange Horizons Review

Comments

  1. Anonymous6:12 PM

    The earlier book, Swordspoint, is all about the Duke's early years.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That's what I've heard. I may pick that one up since I loved him and St. Vier especially.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You've been busy Angie! I haven't read this author yet. If you get a chance to read the previous book you'll have to let us know if this book seems better after that. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous7:22 AM

    If you love St. Vier, too, definitely, definitely give Swordspoint a try.

    Not that I'm bossy or anything.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Lol. Leila, feel free to boss me around if there's a book I simply must read. I definitely love St. Vier, so I'm thinking I'd better give Swordspoint a shot.

    Kimberly, I'll let you know how it goes. Though I don't imagine I'll feel better about Katherine, I'll probably feel more satisfied in general. Which I'll take.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Haha, I was going to direct you to SWORDSPOINT but it seems others have beat me.

    Thanks for entering my contest!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hey, Liviana. Thanks for chiming in. Swordspoint seems to have my name on it.

    And thanks for having the contest!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Good point about Marcus and Katherine--there was so much confusion/desire on Katherine's part that I wondered if it was just convenience that she and Marcus hooked up.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

You Might Also Like

Angie's 2024 Must Be Mine

  As ever, begin as you mean to go on. And so here are my most anticipated titles of 2024: And no covers on these yet, but I'm looking forward to them every bit as much: The Unselected Journals of Emma M. Lion, Vol. 8 by Beth Brower Long Live Evil by Sarah Rees Brennan Skybriar by Talia Hibbert Slow Dance by Rainbow Rowell Father Material by Alexis Hall The Duke at Hazard by K.J. Charles Hell's Belle's book four by Sarah MacLean What titles are on your list?

The Year Fic Saved Me

Once upon a time, January came for us and proclaimed itself supremely uninterested in taking prisoners. Under the sustained assault, there were simply too many avenues of stress tearing into my brain. On one side of the field stood so many books (as they have always been there for me) ready to be read—to help. And on the other side loomed a distressing number of chasms inside me desperate to find solace and reprieve. But the two could not meet. No matter how many peace talks I attempted to broker.  In February, in a move so unprecedented that I can only describe it as a lifeline thrown down into the deepest of the chasms, my exhausted mind decided it would be a good idea to finally give fanfiction a whirl. Now, there's no getting around the fact that for someone who has read as many novels that involve fic in some way or another as I have—seriously, novels that began as fic, novels written by authors who got their start writing fic, novels about characters who write/illustrate/love

YA Book Carnival Giveaway: Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr

This week Shooting Stars Mag is hosting the first ever YA Book Carnival ! I'm delighted to be participating by giving away a brand spankin' new copy of Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr . This is the third book in Marr's Wicked Lovely series and a direct sequel to Wicked Lovely itself. You can check out my reviews of the series here: Wicked Lovely review Ink Exchange review Fragile Eternity review And all you have to do to enter is leave a comment telling me your favorite book or series involving faeries or your favorite classic fairy tale or fairy tale retelling. This giveaway is open worldwide and will run through Sunday June 28th. Make sure to leave me a way to contact you! Also don't forget to stop in at Shooting Stars Mag this week to check out all of the other fabulous giveaways going on as part of the YA Book Carnival .