Skip to main content

Retro Friday Review: Kingmaker's Sword by Ann Marston

Several years ago, while wandering through the science fiction and fantasy section of the local Media Play, I crouched down to see what was on the bottom shelf in the M section. My eyes caught on a book that was faced out and that featured two warriors, one red-headed and one blonde, both of them sporting copious amounts of cloudy hair and swooping kilts, clutching swords in their hands. I'd never heard of Kingmaker's Sword or author Ann Marston before, but I decided to pick it up based on the fact that it was a mass market paperback (and thus inexpensive) and that I liked the colors and the soft, matte finish to the cover. I noted that it was the first in a trilogy--the Rune Blade trilogy--and that the other two books were on the shelf so I could easily come back for them if the first book entertained.

Mouse is a slave. Dubbed Foxmouse because of his flaming red hair, he is now known as just Mouse and he is about to make his escape. Two nights ago his sole friend in the world was savagely assaulted and murdered while he watched and that horrific act simultaneously crushed Mouse and did away with any reason he had to stay in the filthy hole he has lived in for as long as he could remember. While on his headlong flight to freedom, Mouse runs into his past in the form of a hulking Tyran clansman on a journey to find his long-lost nephew. Suspecting Mouse may just be that boy, Cullin dav Medroch dubs the boy Kian and takes him under his wing. On their way back to Tyra, Cullin and Kian encounter a determined swordswoman by the name of Kerridwen who is on a quest of her own. When Kerridwen and Kian accidentally cross blades a bond is forged that takes them both unpleasantly by surprise and shapes the direction their paths will take from that point on.

I was pleasantly surprised by Kingmaker's Sword. Judging by the kilts on the cover, I should have known to expect a rollicking Celtic-inspired sword-and-sorcery adventure, and that's exactly what it was. Tyra is essentially a slightly altered Scotland, along with the island of Celi and the province of Skai, where Kerri hails from. The book opens with a breakdown of the different seasons in this world, a pronunciation guide, and a map--sort of the holy triumverate of opening pages when it comes to pulpy sword-and-sorcery novels. There is nothing earth-shatteringly new in these books, but they are undeniably fun, smoothly written, and peopled with enjoyably heroic characters pitted against dastardly evil sorcerers against a suitably epic backdrop. I ate them up with a spoon and they have worn rather well over the years. This trilogy follows three generations of Kian's family, including his children and grandchildren. And while I'm usually dismayed when a series jumps generations like that, I have to say that is not the case here as the second novel, The Western King, is definitely the finest installment. Marston follows this trilogy up with another, the Sword in Exile trilogy, which continues the story of the rune blades and the line of the princes of Skai. It, too, is worth a read. Both series are now out of print, but if you can find a copy I do recommend them, particularly for fans of Jennifer Roberson, Susan Dexter, and Moira J. Moore.

Comments

  1. Great Review! I really like the cover!

    http://fantasysink.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  2. Argh! She tells me about this really interesting sounding book and then tells me it's out of print! Good review, this one sounds interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dannie, I know! Something about it was really pleasing to my eyes at the time. Despite all that improbable hair. ;)

    Maria, there you go. The cover clearly works.

    Kerry, lol. I'm sorry! Though used copies appear to available quite cheap...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh, I'm with Kerry. Another OOP book! It sounds great though. Thanks goodness for Abebooks ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I was so bored today but now I have a mission. To find these books. Thanks Angie!

    I love reviews on older books. Sometimes we get so exicited about all the new shinny books that we forget the older gems that are out there.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sometimes a books SO good you have to review it, even though it's OP. Maybe you'll encourage a rerelease :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Li, isn't it the truth? Abe has saved me many a time.

    Tiah, exactly. That's how I felt awhile back and that's how this feature got started. Hope you succeed in your mission. :)

    Rhiannon, wouldn't that be awesome!? I hope that about several of these OOPs...

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anonymous2:56 PM

    I have these books, & can heartily endorse them. They are beautifully written & as you can see, the covers are absolutely gorgeous.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

You Might Also Like

Angie’s Best Books of the Decade

I am winded, you guys. Winded from laboring over this list. This is the first time I've attempted to cobble together a Best Books of the Decade list, and I can't say I'll be up to it for another ten years or so. But my, I couldn't resist the challenge (or profound pleasure, if we're being honest). I kept trying to winnow it down, kept forcing myself to be ruthless. Like somehow I could (or should) keep it to a top ten (flat impossible) or at least a top twenty-five (who are we kidding?). But after bidding those constraints good riddance, I really did press myself to take a hard, clear look at what hurts (to mangle my favorite Hemingway quote). Because these novels hurt in the best way. Each entry on this list is a five-star book in my books. Which means I wouldn't change a single thing about a single one of them. They are the ones I call perfect when I recommend them to friends and strangers. They are the ones I have read and reread over the past ten years and…

Angie's Best Books of 2019

It is the last day of the year. How are you doing at this point? You good to go on? I'm going to. For a number of important reasons, which are too varied (or possibly too private) to enumerate here. So how about we say we shall go on because: "Gansey. That's all there is." I find that "Because Gansey" is highly motivating when motivation is thin on the ground.

Also thin on the ground have been my posts this year. And yet, I'm still not stopping. And I still greatly enjoy arriving at this final post of the year. And so here I leave my best books of the year. It wound up being a respectable nineteen titles this year. Nineteen for 2019. That's down a fair bit from last year's whopping twenty-eight, but rather on par with previous years' lists and more than 2016 and 2017, respectively. I'm pleased. I'm pleased with every book on this list, with every one of the books you shared with me and the ones I've been able to share with you. …

Triple Prize Pack Giveaway!

Not long ago I discovered a few of you tweeting to get me to the 300 follower mark. As little things I read on Twitter often do, that one sort of made my day. You're all really too sweet for words and I joked that perhaps it was time for a giveaway. The truth is I've been in the mood to have one for awhile now and this is as good a time as any. So here's the deal. This will be a triple prize pack giveaway, meaning there are three packs and you can indicate which one you'd like to be entered to win in the comments. I will choose three random winners and contact them. This giveaway is open to anywhere The Book Depository ships! Here's the list of countries, FYI. Since I tend to read a lot of urban fantasy, straight fantasy, and young adult, I've chosen a set of each including all books currently in print in that series.
The Urban Fantasy Pack The Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews (My reviews here, here, & here) The Fantasy Pack The Queen's Thief series by M…