Girls with Swords

I mentioned previously that I hadn’t read any good fantasy books lately (I know, I know; I need to get on A Game of Thrones sometime soon).  I went to Border’s the other day, where everything is now 70% off, due to the company going out of business.  It’s actually a little sad to see how everything is now for sale.  You want the bookshelves?  Go for it.  You want the anti-theft detectors that sit at the door?  They’re relatively cheap (only a few hundred bucks), although I’m pretty sure only business owners would consider buying those.  Can you imagine having one in your home?  You’d literally have to tag and inventory everything inside and even then, how could you prevent it from beeping if you wanted to take a book or a blanket outside?  I guess it’s for those people who are super paranoid of being burglarized.

Anyways, I did pick up a tub of industrial cleaning wipes (it says only for commercial or industrial use, but I’m not planning on eating off of my floors anytime soon, so I think I’m good) and a book: The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner. It was only $4, so I figured I could buy it and not be too upset if I hated it.

It was misleadingly placed in the fantasy section.  There are no fantasical elements about it.  Everyone is fairly normal, if exceedingly blasé about sex (they all seem to be indifferently bisexual- indifferent in the sense that although a character seemed explicitly interested in one person, or one sex, they didn’t seem to have any qualms about sleeping around with members of both sexes).  Nothing’s wrong with that, but I had a hard time remembering who was romantically interested in who when they kept switching partners all the time.

The heroine, Katherine, gets taken in by her uncle, “The Mad Duke,” and becomes his personal swordswoman (“sword” is a weird word, don’t you think?), wearing only men’s clothing and training under different masters.  Honestly, I wasn’t really impressed by the plot.  It was interesting enough, but I felt that all the ends were tied up a little too neatly and quickly at the end.  I felt Kushner didn’t develop it the sword fighting as a plot device nearly as much as she could have.  Even though the book was fairly long, I felt that all of the subplots and side characters were touched upon too lightly for my taste.

Since finishing the book, I realized that it was #2 in a trilogy, so my opinion might have changed had I actually read the first book, although this one seems OK as a stand alone.  But mostly, I wanted my traditional fantasy.  I wanted magic and mysticism and sparkly unicorns (just kidding about that last bit).  Oh well.  Just have to keep searching (theme of my life right now.)

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