2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner, fantasy of manners, is a most entertaining read. The hero is Richard St. Vier who falls in love with Alec, the scholar, who is in reality Lord David Alexander Tielman Campion. St. Vier is an accomplished swordsman with a reputation for discreet murders ordered by nobles who wish to satisfy their honor for various reasons. St. Vier is nothing but thorough and discreet, protecting the reputation of the nobles who hire his services. However, it is inappropriate for him to satisfy his own honor because he heritage is unknown at best. When Alec is kidnapped, St. Vier satisfies his own honor to protect Alec who disappears of his own volition. St. Vier is arrested for the murder of the noble who kidnapped Alec and is put on trial. The minor characters are almost as interesting as St. Vier and Alec, all of who play a role in the trial. Will St. Vier's life be spared? Read this charming adult fairy tale and see for yourself.
1 member(s) found this review helpful.
My feelings about this book are divided. I like the overall setup - old city, the once-fashionable part now taken over by the criminal underclass while the fashionable people move up the hill, official swordsmen who fight the nobles' duels and have reputations that swing from dashing hero to thug (reminds me of pirates, a bit). There's political scheming, a mysterious guy with a noble accent who says he used to be a scholar, won't say anything else, and is now living with the number one swordsman. There was a very cool scene where some characters went to a Shakespeare-style play. And there's some lovely imagery, like the shady neighborhood covered in snow and looking like a fairy-tale village while somewhere a drop of blood falls on snow.
On the other hand, it took me a really long time to get into the book. I didn't care about most of the political scheming, because all that seemed to be at stake were the reputations of some cold, smug, overdressed nobles or the swordsman and his bloodthirsty lover. It's not that I expect every character to be nice, but when they ALL care about little but their power and ability to treat people like chess pieces, I don't care if their feelings get hurt when a duchess doesn't flirt back. The swordsman and scholar-guy did care about each other, but partly because they were dangerous and a "challenge" to each other, and after a while the unrelenting nature of 99% of all human interaction in the book being about power and status and revenge got tiring. It picked up for me when things finally got personal - the scholar-guy got abducted, the swordsman cared, a noble's murder threatened to upset the balance of power in the city - but it was a little late for me to really care what happened to them all.