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Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner

Swordspoint (1987)

by Ellen Kushner (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Riverside (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,932673,536 (3.99)114
  1. 20
    Point of Hopes by Melissa Scott (sandstone78)
    sandstone78: Another story revolving around two men in a relationship that takes place largely in a single city.
  2. 21
    Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling (Sorceress_rin)
  3. 10
    The Killing Moon by N. K. Jemisin (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: Gutter-Duke swordpoint politics, meet assassin ninja-priests.
  4. 00
    The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (bookwormelf)
    bookwormelf: low on magic, high on characters and world-building
  5. 00
    Havemercy by Jaida Jones (FFortuna)
    FFortuna: Very similar, and both fantastic.
  6. 11
    Maledicte by Lane Robins (FicusFan)
    FicusFan: Very Similar 'Period' Fantasy Feel, a Black Comedy of Manners

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» See also 114 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 67 (next | show all)
A re-read from back in the 90's, and it still holds up today. In fact, this time around I caught onto a lot more of the inner court intrigues that Ellen Kushner creates. The honor code of the swordsmen, how they accept (or not) their next commission, how Richard is drawn into court life through no fault of his own, and even how his whiny, troubled partner is more realistic than likeable, all of these are real elements in this world. To call it a fantasy novel is a mis-nomer; it could almost be historical fiction in the tradition of Guy Gavriel Kay if there was a real, truly live place like Riverside. ( )
  threadnsong | Jun 18, 2016 |
3.5. I picked this up after enjoying Tremontaine (the prequel serial) so very much; and in comparison, Swordspoint did disappoint me slightly. Where Tremontaine's world feels rich, the characters passionate, and slight desperation fills their narratives; Swordspoint's characterisations actually felt a little flat. Almost as if this book was a nudge in the door to see if such a concept was acceptable within the realms of fantasy (it was 1989 I suppose! Having LGBT characters in fantasy still gets gasps of shock now!), and now with time, Kushner has become more daring, and is no longer reining everything in to the point of it feeling slightly dry, and a little brittle.

It's still full of societal intrigue, back room politics, and swordsman ready to stab people at a noble persons whim. In that area, it still delivers extremely well.

It will be interesting to see, as this chapter of the Riverside series progresses, if the fire is lit a little brighter under the characters, so that they aren't completely smoothered by all the intriguing plot machinations. ( )
  BookFrivolity | Apr 23, 2016 |
I've probably had this book (and it's sequel) sitting on my shelf for 20+ years. Finally decided to give it a try. As I only seem to have time to read books before bed with my wife we started in on it hoping we would enjoy it. We gave it 2 chapters and gave up.

It was just kind of boring. It seemed especially "lite" and not especially witty or deep, which is kind of a requirement if there's no action. ( )
  ragwaine | Mar 24, 2016 |
I really enjoyed the Audible audiobook. The cast scenes are a high point, and I really think more audiobooks should be produced this way. ( )
  leoht13 | Feb 25, 2016 |
I really try to make an effort to read related titles in order, but I accidentally read The Fall of The Kings, which was billed as a sequel to Swordspoint, first. It was good enough that I went out of my way to get ahold of Swordspoint - and now I've read it!
However, I wouldn't really call one a "sequel" to the other. The books take place in the same city, 60 years apart, and don't include any of the same main characters. Both are fully stand-alone works.

The setting is a city which strikes me as a mix of 15th or 16th century Italy and London, a complex, vibrant, decadent place which has recently moved from monarchy to bureaucracy, but still filled with wealthy nobles - who avoid the dangerous underworld of the Riverside neighborhood like the plague.

However, the nobles are certainly not above hiring the swordsmen of Riverside to fight their duels for them - and our protagonist, Richard St. Vier, is the best of these swordsmen. In this position, he is poised to be swept into a dizzying melange of intrigue, fueled by both sex and politics. The swordsman prides himself on maintaining a professional distance and only accepting those deadly commissions that he chooses - but when St. Vier's handsome, mysterious, but self-destructive lover, Alec, is kidnapped by a lord as blackmail in order to force St. Vier to commit an assassination, events cascade to a head, slipping past the accepted boundaries....

Kushner creates a rich tapestry in this work, sometimes complicating to the point of confusion, as the reader keeps track of who's plotting against who... The love she has for her characters is obvious (even if none of them are terribly likable individuals...), and each is vividly detailed.

Overall, I would say this book is better than The Fall of the Kings. Quite excellent, as a matter of fact! ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 67 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kushner, EllenAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Canty, ThomasCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fass, RobertNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Graham, DionNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kellgren, KatherineNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kushner, EllenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reyes, Manuel de losTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Springett, MartinCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sullivan, NickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Man desires that which is Good.
"We all have flaws," he said, "and mine is being wicked."
-James Thurber, The Thirteen Clocks
In the end...everything will be found to be true of everybody.
-Lawrence Durrell, Balthazar
For the Other One
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Snow was falling on Riverside, great white feather-puffs that veiled the cracks in the façades of its ruined houses; slowly softening the harsh contours of jagged roof and fallen beam.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553585495, Mass Market Paperback)

The classic forerunner to The Fall of the Kings now with three bonus stories.

Hailed by critics as “a bravura performance” (Locus) and “witty, sharp-eyed, [and] full of interesting people” (Newsday), this classic melodrama of manners, filled with remarkable plot twists and unexpected humor, takes fantasy to an unprecedented level of elegant writing and scintillating wit. Award-winning author Ellen Kushner has created a world of unforgettable characters whose political ambitions, passionate love affairs, and age-old rivalries collide with deadly results.


On the treacherous streets of Riverside, a man lives and dies by the sword. Even the nobles on the Hill turn to duels to settle their disputes. Within this elite, dangerous world, Richard St. Vier is the undisputed master, as skilled as he is ruthless--until a death by the sword is met with outrage instead of awe, and the city discovers that the line between hero and villain can be altered in the blink of an eye.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:09 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In this collection which includes a novel and three short stories, the great swordsman Richard St. Vier is forced to become involved in a plot to gain control of a nameless city where elegance and decadence coexist.

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