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Reviews of First Book of Swords, the (1983)

Review by mrdude (2005-02-11)

The First Book of Swords The first book in the Swords Series by Fred Saberhagen is the beginning of the tale of twelve magical swords forged by the god Vulcan.

The book is set in a futuristic, somewhat post apocalyptic time, when many gods walk the earth. One of these god's Vulcan forges twelve magical swords and much of were they go after that is unknown to the reader. This information is all given in a prologue and the story starts out with the main character, Mark, whose father assisted Vulcan in the forging, now possesses one of the twelve swords.

This is a really great book and I feel that it's strongest point is that it is so unique. Saberhagen refrains from creating some Tolkienesq story and instead relies on his own imagination and skills as a storyteller. He creates his own creatures and when he does use the traditional dragon or whatnot he molds it to his liking rather than relying on previous authors depictions.

As to my complaints, there are few. The book lacks much needed character development. While reading I felt I was hearing the story of total strangers. No history is given for any of the characters and some of them are described so briefly that one finds it hard to imagine them. Also, despite a sold storyline and good writing I felt that the story moved along exceedingly fast. Many things happen in a very small amount of text, so the general reader is left with the feeling of, "What I'm done already?".

Still, two more books come after this one in the series, as well as eight books of lost swords, which are about some of the twelve swords mentioned in this book. In fact much of Saberhqagen's writing is linked into these books. The empire of the east series exists in this same universe as well and may shed light on things that seem left out of this book.
Despite its few downfalls I did enjoy the book and would suggest it to a fantasy fan who is needing a little change from the monotony of it all.

(Also posted at the IBDoF)

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