Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Worlds of Riverside by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman ~ Series Summary

Mulluane | 8:00 PM | 6 Comments so far

Book Covers of The Worlds of Riverside by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman
Swordspoint ~ The Privilege of the Sword ~ The Fall of The Kings
(Amazon Affiliate Links)

♥ Mini Review ♥
This series created its very own genre. As you journey through these tales you will encounter a beautifully created secondary world with a unique system of politics. You will savor romance, honor, sharp wit and even sharper swords. What you won't see is magic -- atleast not until book three. No, the fantasy element here is all in the creative worldbuilding and the vividly complicated characters who inhabit it. 

Fantasy of Manners Series Review by Mulluane

♦ My Thoughts. This series is comprised of three books all interconnected but each standing on its own. This is not a trilogy in which there is one story broken down into three parts. "Swordspoint" sets the stage. Then "Priviledge of the Sword" takes place 15 years after Swordspoint. It tells a completely different story featuring a new protagonist who is joined by several older versions of the characters in book one. Finally "The Fall of the Kings" takes place 60 years after the events in Swordspoint, again with a new protagonist who is related to the main characters in Swordspoint. This time the main character in Privilege is relegated to an important but secondary role.

So all tied in together but all different stories.

The point in all this is that I can not do my normal summary since this is not one continuous story. In cases such as this I summarize each book individually instead.

♦ Swordspoint. I did not really know what to expect from a "Fantasy of Manners." However the idea of a book that featured dueling as opposed to war intrigued me.

I wasn't disappointed. Everything I love about "pre-gunpowder" civilizations was lovingly detailed in this book. There was honor and betrayal, followed by subsequent revenge and justice. There was beautiful prose and sharp wit. There was a realistic M/M romance full of both chilling harshness and tender moments. There was a well realized world with its own rules, politics, social divisions and traditions. And there was nothing magical or even mystical; but trust me, you won't miss it.

♦ The Privilege of the Sword. This was my favorite of the three books. Mainly because I love strong female leads who refuse to be bound to their "place" in society. In this case the young lady did not have much choice in the matter and likely would not have chosen the role voluntarily. However she took a less than perfect situation and recreated herself, surprising almost everybody, including herself. I literally flew through this book and was sad when it finished. I wanted more...

The Fall of the Kings. Unfortunately I read this book out of order. The confusion is understandable. This book was actually published before The Privilege of the Sword and as a result the internet (and blurbs at the front of the book) often refer to this novel as the followup to Swordspoint. If I had paid closer attention, I would have noticed that this book was labeled as book three in places like Goodreads and Amazon but, sigh, I'm too poor to pay attention. I completely missed it. In my defense, the books themselves are not numbered either. However, Ellen Kushner explains the correct reading order both here and here.

Fortunately, it was not a huge deal because of the standalone nature of these books. The Fall of the Kings takes place a full 60 years after the events in Swordspoint. The focus is completely different, concentrating on the scholarly segment of the society. This is also the only book of the three that contains any magic.

Unfortunately, this was my least favorite of the three. I wasn't as intrigued with the scholastic pursuits as I was with the swordsmanship. It was still an interesting tale. It covers some of the mythology of this world which includes a history of Kings who were ritualistically bound to the land, the wizards who controlled them and their eventual downfall.

♦ Conclusion. All in all a delightful change of pace from the overly dark epic fantasy I've been reading lately. Oh don't get me wrong. This series of stories has plenty of darkness, violence, death and danger. However it is beautifully balanced by honor, love, loyalty and lovely elegant prose.

Definitely recommended!

♦ My Book Reviews of: Swordspoint ~ The Privilege of the Sword ~ The Fall of the Kings

(Additional Info)
Author: Ellen Kushner 
Author: Delia Sherman (co-wrote book #3)

Genre: Fantasy of Manners, Melodrama of Manners

Content: Dueling, M/M romance, Mythology

Series:  The Worlds of Riverside

Publishers: Spectra and Bantam

Source: Personal Copies

Interview: An Interview with Ellen Kushner on Riverside’s Scholars, Swordsmen, and Neil Gaiman Presents

Interview: The Big Idea: Delia Sherman | Whatever

Cover Art: Thomas Canty
(Swordpoint and The Fall of the Kings)

Marc Peltzer and Stephen Youll
(The Privilege of the Sword)

Author's Web Presence: Ellen Kushner
Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Radio Host ~ Tumblr ~ Livejournal

Author's Web Presence: Delia Sherman
Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Livejournal 

All are available in Kindle and Audible 
See individual reviews for more information.

More Great Fantasy Reviews
Already read the book? Please add your own rating!

Fantasy of Manners Series Review of The Worlds of Riverside by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman - Reviewed by Mulluane - on March 4, 2014 - Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Mulluane is a 56-year-old proud grandmother of 4, who is passionate about her pets, blogging, traditional fantasy, and tinkering with webdesign. She is obssesively photo shy but she uses an avatar that accurately represents her dreams. ♥ You can also find her on:

Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest

Old Bat's Belfry - Witty Wacky and Wise Quotes


  1. I so, so, SO loved Swordspoint! I nearly made the same oops you did, reading them out of order. I'd purchased The Fall of the Kings, but then learned there was this other, in between book, called Priveledge of the Sword, so I got that, read it, LOVED it, and now haven't had time to read Fall of the Kings. but really? i could just read Swordspoint over and over again and be very happy.

    1. Fall of the Kings is worth reading even if it is only to see what kind of woman Katherine becomes. I was a little bit in love with her before I read Privilege :>)

      And thanks for stopping by to comment!

  2. Hook, line and sinker - that's the best way to describe how I feel after reading your review.
    These are going at the top of my "buy soon" list. Your fault, of course... :-D

    1. *wrings hands gleefully*

      Mahahaha! Zee evil plan iz working.....

      One note. Look outside of Amazon unless you want the kindle version. I noticed 1 or 2 were not available new. (plenty used.) Atleast not in mass market which is what I usually link to.

    2. That's one of the reasons I love ebooks: instant availability and lower prices - not to mention that the "old bad times" of waiting for the Amazon packages to be delivered by the postal service are over! :-)

      I've seen these books both on Kobo, where they are priced a bit under 5 EUR and on Kindle, where they cost even less. I just wish that I could download just as easily some more free time to read...
      **sigh** ;-)

  3. These do sound interesting. I'll have to look into them further. {Smile}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin


♥ ♥ I sincerely LOVE comments! Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. ♥ ♥

Love Epic, High Fantasy? Looking for completed, in print series to read?
Well this blog is what you've been looking for!
Please enter your email address to have our dragons deliver great new reviews straight into your inbox:

Delivered by FeedBurner