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Swordspoint (1987)

by Ellen Kushner

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Riverside (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,484855,346 (3.93)133
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.
  1. 30
    The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (bookwormelf)
    bookwormelf: low on magic, high on characters and world-building
  2. 20
    Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones (reconditereader)
    reconditereader: Both beginning series with similar-feeling settings.
  3. 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.
  4. 31
    Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling (Sorceress_rin)
  5. 10
    Stargazy Pie by Victoria Goddard (merrystar)
    merrystar: similar "comedy of manners" fantasy
  6. 10
    Havemercy by Jaida Jones (FFortuna)
    FFortuna: Very similar, and both fantastic.
  7. 10
    The Killing Moon by N. K. Jemisin (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: Gutter-Duke swordpoint politics, meet assassin ninja-priests.
  8. 11
    Maledicte by Lane Robins (FicusFan)
    FicusFan: Very Similar 'Period' Fantasy Feel, a Black Comedy of Manners

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» See also 133 mentions

English (83)  Spanish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (85)
Showing 1-5 of 83 (next | show all)
This book is classified as fantasy of manners, which means it is closer to "The Three Musketeers" and a Jane Austen novel than any popular fantasy book I've ever encountered. It has swordfights, high society talk, gossip, drama and intrigue. All of the action happens in a city called Riverside and the Hills, where the nobility lives. In this world nobles can challenge each other to fight with their swords to the death and they can hire a swordsman to fight their battles for them. Richard is a swordsman that gets caught up in the schemes of the nobles and his boyfriend, Alec, is the best part about this book.

It took me 120 pages to get really invested in this story, but it gets quite good after that. The characters aren't that well developed and Michael's scenes sometimes were a bit boring, but the relationship between Richard and Alec is interesting and so is the character of Diane de Tremontaine. Certain events start to connect near the middle of the story and it made the plot more fun even though it was still predictable at times.

Overall, it was a fun read but it takes some time to get into it and understand who the characters are and what is their purpose in the story. ( )
1 vote elderlingfae | Aug 11, 2022 |
This is my second try on Kushner, and she's not for me.

I like the language and prose, and the world itself is interesting, but this one in particular was a little too sex-focused for me to like. And I guess she's trying to make nuanced characters, but mostly I just thought they were reprehensible (Alec in particular).

I think I understand what she's selling, but I'm not interested in buying. ( )
  Tikimoof | Feb 17, 2022 |
Sometimes I read a book that I am stunned that ever got published when it did. The Picture of Dorian Gray is one; this is another. It kind of restores my faith in humankind that we can allow such great stories to be published even if they are somewhat outside of the traditional, and allowable definitions. ( )
  frfeni | Jan 31, 2021 |
When I received my last shipment from Amazon, this was the fantasy book I picked up first. I was really looking forward to it.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OF 2017!!!!!! (to date, anyway)

There were no elements of fantasy in this book......no magic, no mythology, just a fictional generic place with substance-free characters who take forever to do anything of interest........

The political intrigue was entry level and didn't have me wondering for even a moment; I could just tell that both Alec and the Duchess were obviously the puppet masters holding the strings.

I doubt that I will read another book by this author and have no intention of continuing the series.......unless of course I become dim-witted with age and crave simplistic and unchallenging stories in my dotage. ( )
  Equestrienne | Jan 5, 2021 |
Very good "fantasy of manners" novel. Nothing really fantastical, really, other than the fact that it's in its own world. Made me want to read related works. ( )
  lexa.blackbird | Sep 11, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 83 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kushner, Ellenprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Canty, ThomasCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fass, RobertNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Graham, DionNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kellgren, KatherineNarratorsecondary 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
First words
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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Wikipedia in English


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.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
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.
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Average: (3.93)
1 17
1.5 3
2 38
2.5 13
3 108
3.5 44
4 199
4.5 31
5 221

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