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By the Sword (Kerowyn's Tale) Mass Market Paperback – February 5, 1991

4.6 out of 5 stars 135 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Mercedes Lackey is a full-time writer and has published numerous novels and works of short fiction, including the best-selling Heralds Of Valdemar series. She is also a professional lyricist and a licensed wild bird rehabilitator. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband, artist Larry Dixon, and their flock of parrots. She can be found at mercedeslackey.com.
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Product Details

  • Series: Kerowyn's Tale
  • Mass Market Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: DAW (February 5, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0886774632
  • ISBN-13: 978-0886774639
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 1.3 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #322,641 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mercedes Lackey is the acclaimed author of over fifty novels and many works of short fiction. In her "spare" time she is also a professional lyricist and a licensed wild bird rehabilitator. Mercedes lives in Oklahoma with her husband and frequent collaborator, artist Larry Dixon, and their flock of parrots.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
"By the Sword" is one of Mercedes Lackey's best books. It's an honest, unflinching look at the life of a mercenary woman -- and a parable of how difficult modern women find balancing love, sex, partnership, and job responsibilities, all at once.
"By the Sword" tells the story of Kerowyn. She's Kethry's granddaughter (Kethry, as you might recall from the "Oath" books, was the mage partner of Tarma the Shin'a'in), yet grows up mostly ignorant of her heritage. That's because her mother dies young, her father is an idiot, and Kerowyn's been left to rule the roost at the ripe old age of 15.
As her brother is being married off, also at a young age, bandits come in and disrupt the festivities. They carry her brother Lordan's new wife off, kill her father, and murder many others on the way out. This inflames Kerowyn, who vows revenge.
Going to put on her brother's cast-off armor and grabbing a dagger, she's stopped by a rather mysterious woman on the way to see her grandmother. (Yes, she's so ignorant that she doesn't recognize Tarma, nor her significance in her grandmother's life.) She's warned to go back; this inflames Kerowyn still further.
Kerowyn goes to Kethry and tells her what's happened; Kethry passes along her sword Need -- which basically is a sort of magical guardian spirit. If you're a mage, it gives you ultimate fighting prowess. If you're a fighter, it gives you immunity against magic.
Kerowyn rides, finds the bandits, kills them, and brings Lordan's bride home. However, after she gets there, she realizes she's not cut out for the life of a noblewoman (they are of the minor nobility); she goes back to her grandmother and asks for more help.
At this point, Tarma steps in, and trains Kerowyn to fight.
Read more ›
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Kerowyn (or Kero for short) has always know that she was not meant to be a "lady." She despises everything about them, rather spending her time learning how to fight and using her own gifts and talents. And when her brother's bride is kidnapped one night her talents are put to the test. She visits her grandmother Kerthy, for help on her rescue, and her whole life is turned upside down. She is now bonded to a mysterious sword, a sword that is ment to help all women in danger and will never harm a woman, a sword that can heal and gives her mysterious battlepower. By the Sword chronicals Kero's life with the sword. From a young headstrong teenager of 15 to a seasoned warrior and mercenary. If you're interested in books of fantasy with strong female charecters this is for you! Keroywn is a likeable main charecter that works hard for breaking sterotypes and becoming independant. I was impressed with this book, it's very well written and fast paced. This is the first book by Mercedes Lackey that I've read but it will certainly not be the last.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
One of Lackey's few non-series books, this one nevertheless fits into the Valdemar chronology as a whole. It takes places somewhere after the "Vows and Honor" series and before "Queen's Own", and tells the story of the legendary Captain Kerowyn. Kero is Kethry's granddaughter, although she barely knows her mage grandmother. Her sexist father wants to keep her chained in the kitchen, but Kero wants adventure and excitement. When bandits crash her brother's wedding, killing most of the guests and taking the bride prisoner, Kero rides to the rescue, making her both a hero and a pariah to her brother and father. So she hikes off to Grandmother's, where Tarma takes her on as a student. Later, she joins a mercenary company, then captains said company, and finally ends up being Chosen by a Valdemaran Companion. (If she didn't, we wouldn't really care about her, would we?) Along the way she falls in love, has numerous adventures, setbacks, foreshadowy meetings with important people, etc etc.
Good book, especially for Mercedes Lackey. I liked Elizabeth Moon's Paksenarrion series better, but you can't ask for everything. Nice, basic sword-and-sorceress tale, ties up a few loose ends re: Kethry and Tarma, and sets up the "modern" Valdemar series at the same time. Although it's technically a stand-alone, don't bother if you don't have at least a basic grasp of Lackey's universe already. If you do, you'll probably like this one.
1 Comment 27 of 32 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By A Customer on February 1, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
After completing an English essay on this book <part of my semester project of analyzing the works of female fantasy authors>, I feel qualified to review this book. In a few words - it is excellent. At times, the plot is a little slow and bogged down in the political feuds <very very difficult to remember>, but it is truly memorable. I'm not going to recite how the characters are great, the story complex but fulfilling, and that whole bit. But I will say this - Kerowyn is typical of Lackey's heroines/heroes - the misfit and outcast who finds her place in society after years of searching - but her story still rings true for so many today. Lackey uses a fantastic setting in the world of Velgarth to merely have the reader suspend biases, and reassess views of homosexuals, racial relations, and women <also a very typical thing for all of her books>. I found this book, in all its excellency and fantasy plot, extremely relevant, and I'm sure other readers will feel the same.
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