Another one from the Sci-Fi Club Top 50 and another cracker. Most people think of fantasy novels like many of the posters you see, or a Conan movie, all muscle-bound heroes in loincloths and damsels in barely anything, fighting against dark lords and huge beasts. That’s rarely the case, certainly with the best fantasy I’ve read (not that there isn’t a place for those things).
The Gilded Chain revolves around Durendal, a King’s Blade, which is to say one of a group of swordsmen who have trained their lives and been magically enhanced to be the best fighers and protectors in the world. Once they reach age they are bound to a ward who they are compelled (by their bound) to protect to the death. Every Blade’s desire is to enter the Royal Guard and protect the King. Durendal gets attached to some noble fop because he’s the brother of the King’s mistress.
This doesn’t stop Durendal from living up to the legendary name he has chosen for himself. Eventually writing his name into history a second time, not just as a great swordsman, but when he is released, for becoming chancellor and helping restore order to the Kingdom.
The book is filled with action, noble actions and intrigue, this is far from a paper-thin mock-up of a world, inspired by our medieval past but completely fresh and with allegiences and loyalties that constantly shift. A great read.
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Tales of the King's Blades series
Reviewed: 13th March 2008