Book Review: The Seventh Sword (1-4) by Dave Duncan

Book Review: The Seventh Sword by Dave Duncan

Book Review: The Seventh Sword by Dave Duncan

This is the second series by Dave Duncan I’ve read after the Pandemia Books. It’s about how the goddess of a medieval world retrieves a chemical engineer from our modern world to accomplish some abstract purpose of her own – a purpose that is not explained right until the very end of the third and fourth books. The “sword” motif is pretty cliche in fantasy by now, but it’s still done very well. Actually, there’s only a minimal amount of magic in the world though the hand of the goddess is constantly at work.

Our engineer is put into the body of a seventh rank swordsman – the highest there is. “Wallie”, as he’s known back on Earth starts off by thinking this is all just a dream and that he’s going to wake up in a hospital any moment now – until things take a turn for the worst. The rest is sort of a “coming of age” story but with a very unexpected twist. It was originally meant to be only three books, but Duncan managed to squeeze out another one almost as an afterthought.

I like his style of focusing on just a few story arcs instead of spreading them out over dozens of characters like Jordan and Martin do. It keeps the storyline tight. It’s also an interesting world where each person belongs to a craft and progresses up the ranks from first to seventh. The medieval world is pre literate so nothing is ever written down, there are no papers to carry. Everything is reputation and the craft marks you carry on your forehead along with the color of your rank.

The second book is a bit too slow for my taste as Wallie spends most of it floating around the river with his shipmate friends. The exciting parts of course are the swordsman duels. Naturally the battles aren’t as detailed and technical as something written by say Matthew Stover in the Acts of Caine series, but then Stover is unique in that regard. I found the series to be very exciting with most of the action moving along at a fast clip, except in those areas where Duncan takes too much time to describe the scenery etc. But that’s just me being impatient for the action. I am, as Shakespeare said “fit only for treason, stratagems, and spoils”!

The books are also relatively short compared to many others I’ve read, so I got through four books in a surprisingly short period of time. Just around two weeks, out of which I was on vacation in Dubai for one of them :) . A nice little series in a quaint world. Be warned though – it’s a bit tough to swallow the ending of the third book. You just don’t see it coming in its full force. What a finish!

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