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Banner of the Damned (Daw Books Collectors) Hardcover – April 3, 2012

3.8 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A frequently thrilling tale, full of adventure, romance, and magic, a charming mix of everyday details and epic overtones." — Locus

"Sherwood Smith should rank high on any list of military writers.... The cavalry battles, hand-to-hand, strategy sessions, the aftermaths of battles, these scenes in Banner of the Damned roll across the page with effortless mastery... a first rate author boldly at play."
SFSignal

"Tremendously enjoyable.... The characters are interesting, believable, and well-drawn, the politics — national and personal — compelling, and there’s plenty of action and excitement to go around."
Tor.com

"A magical tale of political intrigue and romantic entanglements...vividly realized and entertaining."
Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Sherwood Smith started making books out of paper towels at age six. In between stories, she studied and traveled in Europe, got a Masters degree in history, and now lives in Southern California with her spouse, two kids, and two dogs. She’s worked in jobs ranging from counter work in a smoky harbor bar to the film industry. Writing books is what she loves best. She’s the author of the high fantasy History of Sartorias-deles series as well as the modern-day fantasy adventures of Kim Murray in Coronets and Steel. Learn more at www.sherwoodsmith.net.
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Product Details

  • Series: Daw Books Collectors (Book 1581)
  • Hardcover: 704 pages
  • Publisher: DAW; 1 edition (April 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756406773
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756406776
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,530,834 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have a bad tendency to skim the endings of the books I'm reading, so I try to buy Kindle copies of my favorite authors' books. Sherwood Smith is definitely among my favorite authors, and I'm glad I ended up reading this on the Kindle--it took over 100 pages for me to really become engrossed in the story, and I probably would have put it aside half-skimmed had I read it in paper. Which would have been a shame; I ended up loving it.

Why did it take so long for this book to click? I prefer character-driven books to epic fantasy, and Emras, the narrator, didn't do a whole lot for me at first. She is very driven but bland and socially awkward (in other words, not very interesting), and she feels distant from the narrative. But we are learning about the world, its customs and politics, and the main players during the first few parts (six parts total), with other people's POVs interspersed throughout the text (which is at first weird, given that Emras is the narrator, but is later explained). Still, I was wondering why the story wasn't told from the point of view of one of the "main" players, such as Princess Lasva, for whom Emras works as a scribe.

Silly me. Smith's storytelling is intricate, and she has very good reasons, which later become apparent, for setting up the book as she does. The book spans decades and multiple characters' POVs, but she manages to wrap it all together in one satisfying whole. And Emras does, in fact, play a central role (if not THE central role) in the tragedy that unfolds.

I'm not sure how I would summarize the book other than this: it is a story of good intentions gone awry.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am a long-time fan of Sherwood Smith, but she falters when she gives in to her endless worldbuilding. I understand that Sartorias-Deles is a world she has been creating for 50 years, and the richness of that world that underlies her stories makes them deep and engaging. However, when not reined in by an editor, she likes to put that on display, at length, as she does in this book. Related faults: foray into the linguistics of her invented languages and how words have changed across the millennia; an insistence on naming characters after ancient ancestors to the point of confusion; and intermarried royal families across the continents, with language-drifting names and named after ancestors to the point of confusion, where this guy has a name obviously derived from THIS place but he's from THAT place and actually HATES THIS place although there's a second, 400-years-dead character named the same thing from THIS place who hates THAT place, and you're supposed to be able to keep track of it all. She desperately needs editors who AREN'T familiar with her Sartorias-deles mythos to rein this sort of thing in; in fact I have begun to wonder about her ability to write compelling stories within Sartorias-deles because of her adherence to her overarching, world-spanning, 5000-years-of-history, 50-years-of-work mythos -- she no longer appears to be able to adapt that mythos to serve her novels, but instead turns her novels into fake history books, and where they falter it's because they've lost pace, interest, and character motivations where they have to serve the textbook of the world's history.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The first books of Sherwood Smith's that I read were the INDA series, and I was delighted to see that BANNER OF THE DAMNED refers directly back to that series. BANNER, however, is its own story, in the form of not-quite-exculpatory testimony of a scribe who not only witnessed events, but found herself a primary player in them as well. The action moves from Colendi (which reminds me very much of Lee and Miller's LIADEN series in its stylized etiquette) to Marloven Hesea, but the threat of Norsunder still looms.

I will say the book is not perfect. I found myself wondering early on why no one seemed to ask pertinent questions about one particular character, as well as how any country could really expect to defend itself solely by its negotiating skills (the tension between ideals of peace and war is a theme throughout this book). I wanted to see more of the Academy and how it had changed since Inda's time. I wanted to know more about some characters who were explored early on and then seemed to disappear (and who seemed rather blase about losing their heirs). I thought the punishment decreed at the end of the book did not fit either the crime or the time it was alleged for the deliberations (we were told, not shown; it was an epilog and felt a bit tacked-on).

Most of all, however, I wanted more. I really want this book to be a trilogy (and who knows, maybe it will be!) I want to know what happened to major characters who disappeared. I want to know what happens if someone takes a good look at Colendi and decides it would make a nice trophy province. So, More Please. And thank you.

Oddly, I *don't* necessarily want more about Norsunder; the world of Marlovan Hess, or Hesea, really doesn't need an exterior threat unless Smith intends to actually VISIT the place and show us why it's so evil. There's evil enough in the world as it is without having to make it Loom Mysteriously.
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