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The Complete Book of Swords by Fred…

The Complete Book of Swords (1984)

by Fred Saberhagen

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The framing story is that Vulcan forged 12 swords, quenching them in the blood of humans and taking the arm of a human smith who helped him. Then a mysterious man impregnates the smith's wife and their son Mark grows up to handle many of the swords. With 12 of them in the world, I started to have a hard time keeping track of who had which ones. Gods and goddesses would swoop down and take them from humans, trade them, or give them to others. Mark and his friends Ben and Barbara, as well as his father and mother, aren't well characterised, this is more of a plot driven novel. The middle book is basically a dungeon crawl (albeit with some inventive traps) to get more swords. There are a lot of players on the board, at one point there's a three way battle. What kept me interested was how the swords worked on their wielders and the people (including gods) around them - the loss of free will, the double edged gift, the schemings to obtain more power through specific swords. I'm interested in reading the Lost Sword books since it looks like each Sword gets it's own book.
I'm kind of glad that I had the omnibus version of this, each of the three novels included is a bit short. There was way too much deus ex machina as well, but it was a fun read. ( )
  silentq | Mar 26, 2011 |
Like a very good B movie. Very fun but not overly original or deep. Looking forward to the next book. ( )
  Segapup | Sep 30, 2010 |
Definitely a better fantasy story than I remembered, the true bonus will be if the Books of Lost Swords are as good. Those are the ones that I bogged down on twenty years ago or so. There are eight books, as I recall, all fairly short like the three books that make up the Complete Book of Swords.
Mr. Saberhagen is definitely an old time scifi writer. There are snippets of technology from the 'Old World', biblical styled tales of the world before and after a holocaust of some sort that nearly destroyed the earth, saved by the god Ardneh who protected the remains of civilization. Ardneh is a part of some other works by the author which are of a scifi bent and they manage to tie together in a pretty interesting way. I have to admit reading the wikipedia page about the book of swords which explains this.
The story is pretty basic. The gods forge the twelve swords then throw them in to the realm of men just for fun. This turns out to be a bad idea and leads to the exposition of the gods being a creation of man and not the other way around. There is a major battle at the end where two of the Swords square off and things come to a sudden conclusion. Four of the swords are destroyed or removed from the realm along the way, leading to the eight Books of Lost Swords which follow. They involve Mark and Ben (the main heroes of CBoS) wandering around the realm searching for or using the remaining swords, allowing the author to give each of the incredibly powerful Swords their own tales. Should be fun. ( )
  DirtPriest | Sep 10, 2010 |
This book is one of my all-time favourite books. The story is well written, and follows a good plot line.

Anyone interested in examining the different ways in which they can view and relate to their Gods should really read this book to the end, paying attention to how the Gods exist and interact with humans, and the way humans relate to the very existence of these Gods.

I would highly recommend this book if you are interested in polytheistic spiritualities, or in different ways to interpret Gods. While it is a good fictional read, the story line leads up to an ending that provokes the reader to see Deities in an unfamiliar and unique way. ( )
1 vote gothic_hands | May 12, 2009 |
it was okay... but not my favorite.
  Poetgrrl | Apr 23, 2007 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Fred Saberhagenprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Eagleson, DuncanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In what felt to him like the first cold morning of the world, he groped for fire.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312869169, Paperback)

The First Swords were forged by the gods as pieces in a great game, to be scattered across the world for mortals to fight over. Each of the 12 Swords was infused with a unique, powerful ability: the Sword of Siege could reduce a castle to rubble; Coinspinner would bring its wielder phenomenal luck; Shieldbreaker could best any weapon, even another Sword; Sightblinder would make its wielder appear to others as someone either greatly loved or greatly feared. These three books--the First, Second, and Third Book of Swords, first published in 1983 and 1984 and combined here in one volume--follow the slippery Swords as they pass from hand to hand, from queen to commoner and back again.

This trilogy probably qualifies as a fantasy classic just because it's such a great story. And it's probably so well loved because Saberhagen is such a genius. But what really cements the Swords books in the fantasy canon is simply that they tell a smart, involving story without ever getting bogged down in details. Many current authors, with their endless sequels and flabby plot lines, could learn from Saberhagen's tight pacing. Just as his equally engaging Berserker stories are a must for SF fans, no fantasy reader should miss out on these well-executed (and addictive!) books. --Paul Hughes

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:37 -0400)

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