Book Review: Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner

61SFC+IyI8LTitle: Swordspoint written by Ellen Kushner
Genre: Fantasy
Published by Bantam Dell
Page count: 286
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3/5
Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #39

In a city ruled by the nobility and their whims, swordsmen, men who earn their living fighting for the honor of the nobles, are in high demand. These men are contracted (sometimes) by the nobles to challenge other men who have dishonored them and fight them…sometimes to the death. Although rules based in honor exist in such a profession, the lines can far too easily become blurred. Richard St. Viere, the best swordsman alive at this point as well as the most sought after, finds himself tangled in a web spun by members of the nobility and his honor.

I read this book for the Vaginal Fantasy Book Club July alternate pick! I liked this book, I thought it was an interesting story and a rather light, entertaining read.

I especially liked the way this story starts. I think it’s really great and valuable when an author can capture your attention from the opening paragraph. That in itself makes me want to read the whole book. I wouldn’t say I devoured this book even though it was a light read…after I initially got into the story, it lost me but then captured me again.

The title page states that the story is a “Melodrama of Manners” which after reading the story is easy to see. It’s always interesting to read stories like this where there are different aspects of society (i.e. social status) that have their own specific “understood” set of rules by which people must conduct themselves in situations and in their interactions with people of different as well as the same social standing as themselves. A lot of the time in these types of books, as is very much part of the conflict in this book…misunderstanding the way a person acts or what they say or misunderstanding the rules of society is a key driving force. Pride and Prejudice, although of a different genre, comes to mind when I think of a book where manners and misunderstandings are key driving forces in the plot of the story. I love books like that.

Although I didn’t LOVE this book I did like it, I would entertain reading the next one. I would like to know more about the characters and the world as I did not think they were particularly “well-built” for me. I don’t feel like I had a great sense of who these characters were, even St. Vier although I am familiar with his values I was left with questions on things that had happened in his past that weren’t resolved by explanation in the story and whatnot. Since this isn’t the only book I’m optimistic that these things will be cleared up for me when I do read the next book so needless to say, I must read it. Also because this was a Vaginal Fantasy read I must say that there is what I would deem a strong lack of sexy times in this book. Although there are some mentions of sexy times, they are definitely weak in description and not at all interesting. They really are just mentions.

This book is really not the type of fantasy book that features dragons and magic…but focuses more on swordplay and honor. The swordplay itself is breathtaking and exciting. I think fantasy fans may enjoy this book!

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