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The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner
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The Privilege of the Sword

by Ellen Kushner

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Riverside (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,288529,314 (3.98)69
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» See also 69 mentions

English (51)  Dutch (1)  All languages (52)
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
This a sort of a midquel to Swordspoint and The Fall of the Kings - both of which I enjoyed. Privilege made me wish I remembered them better - some of the same characters were featured, but I couldn't quite remember their histories. The story is a teenage girl having adventures and coming of age in a narrow high fantasy setting - an unnamed city full of the conspiracies of nobles. I stayed up late to finish it. (September 30, 2006) ( )
  cindywho | May 27, 2019 |
I impulse bought this simply for the unusual point of view. It moves back and forth from Katherine's first person view to third person for everyone else, and we look through an impressive number of characters' eyes. If you hold rigid ideas about point of view correctness, pass this over. Personally, I love when someone can show the story from so many sides. It brings a richness that's impossible from a single viewpoint, and it's well done here.

That said, the story does ramble a bit, with a rather loose plot. I'm tempted to suggest heavier editing to tighten that up. But the multiple points of view plus the details of the culture--down to the swordwork and clothing--are too much fun to cut. I think some readers will definitely be put off by the structure, though. Actually, if I'd read it at a different time, I might not have enjoyed it as much as I did, but it was just the right diversion in the moment. ( )
  jjLitke | Sep 21, 2018 |
Alec Campion, the Mad Duke, is some twenty years older than in Swordspoint, but he isn’t any less a trial to his family, friends, and enemies. Dividing his time between Tremontaine House and his Riverside house, the Duke Tremontaine hosts parties ranging from the risqué to the debauched, and lives a life of dissipation.

He also quietly makes political trouble for those intent schemes that would line their own pockets at the expense of the less powerful and the less well-connected. Aside from his own affinity for the dispossessed, it doesn’t hurt at all that the principal plotter against the general good is his old enemy, Anthony Deverin, Lord Ferris. Into this political and social minefield, Tremontaine brings his niece, Katherine. With the stick of a revived lawsuit challenging his sister’s marriage settlement and the carrot of permanently settling the lawsuit, he forces his sister Janine to send her daughter to him—with an absolute ban on family contact for six months.

Katherine arrives with happy dreams of fine dresses and a Season in town. She quickly learns that she will have only boy’s clothes, and fencing lessons. Her uncle is having her trained to be his bodyguard.

As Katherine slowly learns her way around the duke’s household, the city, and a sword, she also acquires a few friends, most notably Marcus, the duke’s young assistant, and Lady Artemisia Fitz-Levi, a sweet but somewhat silly young lady of her own age, who nevertheless receives and accepts a proposal of marriage from the most eligible bachelor available—the widowed Lord Ferris.

Katherine’s not happy to discover she’ll be going to no respectable balls, wearing no dresses, and being received by practically nobody, but she does learn to enjoy swordplay and, with Marcus, trailing and investigating one of the Duke’s visitors, whom she recognizes from her one very brief attempt to visit Artemisia. Unfortunately, the next place she meets Artemisia is at the Rogues’ Ball. Katherine has come with the Duke; Artemisia with her fiancé, Lord Ferris. Lord Ferris, concerned that the flighty Artemisia might call off the betrothal that he’s counting on for reasons of his own, has taken advantage of this evening away from Artemisia’s family, friends, and chaperones to make sure she has no choice. Artemisia begs for Katherine’s help, and Katherine’s personal desire to avenge and protect her friend gets tangled up with the Duke’s personal and political enmity for Ferris. Everyone’s keeping secrets from everyone, and things start to spiral out of control.

Like Swordspoint, this is a really fine fantasy novel with not a hint of magic to be found in it anywhere.

Recommended. ( )
  LisCarey | Sep 19, 2018 |
I wanted to love this, but it was just okay. Smartly written, and I enjoyed the main character, but it took far too long for the book to get started, and then the book was wrapped up too quickly and too neatly. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
Austen would have been proud of this fantasy novel of manners, deconstructing a woman's place in a man's world. Chronologically the middle book in the Swordspoint Riverside trilogy, although written last. beautifully written, great characters, and something to say. classic. ( )
  macha | Jan 21, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ellen Kushnerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Day, FeliciaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gaiman, NeilIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hurley, JoeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kellgren, KatherineNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosenblat, BarbaraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sullivan, NickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Youll, StephenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Epigraph
Small pow'r the word has,
And can afford us
Not half so much privilege as
The Sword does.
—Anon., "The Dominion of The Sword" (1658)
If the old fantastical Duke of dark corners
had been at home, he had lived...
The Duke yet would have dark deeds darkly answered.
—Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, IV.iii; III.ii
All the same, he had no manners then, and he has no manners now, and he never will have any manners.
—Rudyard Kipling, "How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin"
What a gruesome way to treat one's niece.
—James Thurber, The Thirteen Clocks
Dedication
This book is for Delia and always was
First words
No one sends for a niece they've never seen before just to annoy her family and ruin her life.
Quotations
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Het woord heeft weinig macht
En is half zoveel waard
Als het privilege van het zwaard.

Anoniem, - De Heerschappij van het Zaard (1658)
Als die oude dwaas van een hertog thuis was gebleven in plaats van
zich met duistere zaken in te laten, dan leefde hij nog...
De hertog daarentegen zou verdachte zaken niet
aan het licht brengen.

- Shakespeare, Leer om Leer, 4.3, 3.2
Al met al, hij had toen geen manieren, hij heeft nu geen manieren, en
hij zal nooit manieren hebben.

- Rudyard Kipling, Hoe de Rinoceros zijn Huid kreeg
Wat een gruwelijk manier om je nicht te behandelen.

- James Thurber, De Dertien Klokken
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
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Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

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Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553586963, Mass Market Paperback)

Welcome to Riverside, where the aristocratic and the ambitious battle for power in the city's ballroom, brothels and boudoirs. Into this alluring world walks Katherine, a well-bred country girl versed in the rules of conventional society. Her mistake is thinking that they apply. For Katherine's host and uncle, Alec Campion, aka the Mad Duke Tremontaine, is in charge here—and to him, rules are made to be broken. When Alec decides it would be more amusing for his niece to learn swordplay than to follow the usual path to marriage, her world changes forever. Blade in hand, it's up to Katherine to navigate a maze of secrets and scoundrels and to gain the self-discovery that comes to those who master: the privilege of the sword.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:00 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Welcome to Riverside, where the aristocratic and the ambitious battle for power and prestige in the city's labyrinth of streets and ballrooms, theatres and brothels, boudoirs and salons. Into this alluring and alarming world walks a bright young woman ready to take it on and make her fortune. A well-bred country girl, Katherine knows all the rules of conventional society. Her biggest mistake is thinking they apply." "Katherine's host and uncle, Alec Campion, the capricious and decadent Mad Duke Tremontaine, is in charge here - and to him, rules are made to be broken. When he decides it would be far more amusing for his niece to learn swordplay than to follow the usual path to ballroom and husband, her world changes forever. And there's no going back. Blade in hand, it's up to Katherine to find her own way through a maze of secrets and betrayals, nobles and scoundrels - and to gain the power, respect, and self-discovery that come to those who master the privilege of the sword."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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