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The Privilege of the Sword (Swords of Riverside, Book 2) Paperback – July 25, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Kushner's winning high fantasy with its sophisticated swordplay marks a welcome return to the romantic Riverside world she introduced in Swordspoint (1987). Coming-of-age gets complicated for winsome Lady Katherine Samantha Campion Talbert after she's shipped off to her uncle, the Mad Duke of Tremontaine (aka David Alexander "Alec" Tielman Campion), who reigns over a decadent world of erotic and political intrigue. At first Kate's frightened of becoming a swashbuckler, but after training with the duke's favorite lover, the dashing Richard St. Vier, and becoming friends with Marcus, Alec's devoted young assistant, she finds she's more than up for the task. Her skills are tested in her effort to avenge the rape of her best friend, Lady Artemesia Fitz-Levy, by one of her uncle's foes, Anthony Deverin (aka Lord Ferris, Crescent Chancellor of the Council of Lords). Kate's discovery that "Fear is enemy to the sword" and love is the key to triumph leads to surprising consequences. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The most recent Riverside story follows Swordspoint (2003) in chronology and features many of its characters. Alec, Duke Tremontaine, aka the Mad Duke of Riverside, has sent for his impoverished young niece, Katherine. She and her family hope he'll make a good marriage for her, but the Mad Duke has decided to train her as a sword fighter. She is furious, and besides a swordmaster to train her, her uncle also springs what becomes her fall into society, without warning or training, on her. She learns the sword perforce out of self-defense and also, bit by bit, the city, the nobility, politics, and her uncle. When Katherine is trained and entered into society with her weapon, she wades hip-deep into plots against her uncle and becomes the champion of a lady in distress, too. Plot and style hereare in the swashbuckling tradition of Dumas, but the characters are very real beneath their facades, people who bleed when they are cut, even when manners require that they make nothing of it. Frieda Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
Some scenes dragged a bit, and I could care less for Marcus's (the love interest) sexism. I did feel great empathy and sorrow for Marcus given his traumatic past, although Marcus's prejudice against sex workers was rather unpleasant to read. But the characters are realistic, vibrant and three dimensional. There's plenty of joy and sadness, humour and resilience in them. And that's always wonderful.
There are graphic violent scenes, and explicit sexual references. You may want to skip those parts if they're not your kind of thing.
I was happy that gay characters are portrayed sensitively in Privilege of the Sword (no surprises there, as Kushner also achieved this in Swordspoint). It was lovely to see Richard and Alec again. The ending is delightful, especially the romantic parts with Alec and Richard. I was overjoyed at Katherine becoming braver and learning to stand up for herself, her Uncle and her friends. This is Book 2 of the Riverside trilogy. It is best to start with Book 1, which is Swordspoint. You don't have to start with Swordspoint (Privilege of the Sword is a stand alone novel), but I'd recommend doing so, in order to understand the characters and world better.
I first heard about this book on the Williamsburg Regional Library blog, Blogging for a Good Book. Like that reviewer, I was immediately struck by the proud swordswoman on the cover, and being a sucker for swashbuckling women, figured that I would probably enjoy the book. Upon further research, I discovered that it was a sequel to Swordspoint, which I decided to read first (earlier this year.) Although I didn't love Swordspoint, I liked it enough to want to read more, and I've finally gotten around to it.
The Privilege of the Sword, and other Ellen Kushner books have been described as a "fantasy of manners." I can certainly understand the "manners" bit, but I'm not quite sure that it's a fantasy. I've always thought of the defining characteristic of fantasy being magic/some sort of supernatural power. The Privilege of the Sword takes place in an imaginary world, but there is no magic involved.
Anyway, onto the actual review. I really enjoyed the book, more so than Swordspoint, probably because of the younger, female protagonist. Katherine was a lot of fun to read about, she's determined, curious, and honourable. She manages to become an accomplished swordsman without losing any of her femininity. Her reactions to all the things that happen to (and around) her, and her growth as a character is written really well and feels totally real. The world of the nobles around her is also entertaining (although probably would be really tiresome to live in), with constant plotting and scheming within the strict customs of rich society.
I'll definitely be reading the third book set in this world, The Fall of The Kings, soon!
Artemisia is groomed and spoiled and on the catch for a rich husband.
The Mad Duke will be remembered by readers of Swordspoint as the dissolute ex-student Alec Campion. Although now middle-aged, he has not changed in any essential and in his household young Katherine has the chance to observe all manner of corruption, in contrast to Artemisia who is carefully chaperoned. For a time, Katherine is sent to study with the great swordsman, Richard St. Vier. By the time she returns to the city she has become formidable.
The irony is that Artemisia's parents do not care about the injury and insult given to her by her intended; they only want to marry her to him before the scandal gets out. However, Katherine can now champion others as well as defend herself, and her eccentric guardian will do anything necessary to save her from an unwelcome match. One is left blushing for the decent parents and admiring the corrupt guardian.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was well-written in so many ways.Read more