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| Genre: Fantasy of Manners
| Content: Dueling, Coming-of-age
| ISBN-10: 0553586963
| ISBN-13: 9780553586961
| Author: Ellen Kushner
| Publisher: Spectra (June 26, 2007)
| Mass Market Paperback: 480 pages
| Cover Artist: Marc Peltzer and Stephen Youll
| Source: Personal copy
| Read an Excerpt
| Rating: 5/5 Stars
This is hands down my favorite of the three books. Not surprising since I love strong female protagonists. Especially ones who thumb their noses at conventional society. This story takes place about 15 years after Swordspoint and is mainly about Katherine, Alec's country born niece. Alec, also one who loves going against the precepts of polite society, decides that he needs a new bodyguard. And who better than a young girl everyone will underestimate. Holding her family's fortune as ransom, Alec forces her to choose between a life of poverty for her entire family or a life as a swordswoman in training. An offer she can't refuse.
Fantasy Book Review by Mulluane
♦ What I Liked: Aside from a couple of interesting female leads this tale also has another of my favorite subjects. Political intrigue. As in book one, Alec thrives on mayhem. He somehow manages to get nearly everyone to believe he is slightly mad and quite harmless. In reality he has his finger in every pot and is not afraid to see how much trouble he can stir up. It is alot of fun to watch. Alec is much like an onion. He has layers under layers under more layers. And you might be surprised at what you find at his core.
Then we have Katherine. Forced into servitude to her "mad" uncle, she has no idea what to expect. Irregardless she is determined to take whatever he dishes out so her family's fortunes can be restored. Much to her surprise and dismay, he takes away all her dresses, gives her the attire of a boy and demands that she train with a swordmaster. The transition makes for a great coming of age tale.
Meanwhile we have Artemisia, a beautiful maiden of a noble house, abet a poor one, who dreams of nothing but true love and a blissful marriage. Katherine's best friend, she too has a coming of age tale to tell as she discovers the harsh realities of life.
Last we have Marcus, the Mad Duke's faithful servant. He has a story to tell too only you'll have to read the book to find out what it is 'cause I ain't tellin'.
♦ What I didn't like: I am honestly racking my brain on this one. Nothing jumps out at me as being unlikeable. This book even has less romance and if you are familiar with my tastes, less is better. I don't mind a little romance in my fantasy but I don't much care for it being the main focus.
Ultimately the only thing I can really complain about was the confusion created by the publication dates of the three books.
Swordspoint was written first, The Fall of the Kings second and this book third. There were also several blurbs which called Kings "the stunning follow up to Swordspoint." Those comments added to my confusion. However the published order is not the intended reading order. The chronological order is Swordspoint, The Privilege of the Sword and then The Fall of the Kings. Fortunately Ellen Kushner very politely corrected me when I mistakenly labeled The Fall of the Kings as book 2 in a tweet. She then graciously pointed me to 2 posts she had written explaining the correct order. The World of Riverside and Chronology and Short Fiction
I have corrected all of my posts here, on twitter, facebook, pinterest, and on tumblr so hopefully nobody else will make the same mistake. I know better. While it is rare to see books published out of order it does happen and I should have double checked my facts. For that I sincerely apologise.
♦ Conclusion: Fortunately my mistake took absolutely none of the pleasure out of this book. If anything reading The Fall of the Kings first made me more eager to read Katherine's story.
As with the other 2 books there is not a cliffhanger ending. (Always a plus in my opinion.) That being said, I do recommend reading Swordspoint first in order to get the full story behind Alec and Richard St. Vier. It is also invaluable due to the short stories included at the end of the book. They help to tie together both the events here and in The Fall of the Kings.
All in all a pleasant change of pace and a delightful read. Highly recommended!
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|Winner, 2007 Locus Award, Best Fantasy Novel|
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Fantasy Book Review of The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner (Riverside Book 2) ~ 5 Stars - Reviewed by Mulluane - on February 24 2014 - Rating: of 5 Stars