Banner of the Damned
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Banner of the Damned

3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  339 ratings  ·  63 reviews
Princess Lasva is about to be named heir to her childless sister, the queen. But, when the queen finally bears an heir, Lasva's future is shattered. Grief-stricken, she leaves her country of Colend and falls into the arms of Prince Ivandred of Marloven Hesea. His people are utterly different-with their expertise in riding, weaponry, and magic- and the two soon marry.

When t...more
Kindle Edition, 704 pages
Published April 3rd 2012 by DAW Books
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Sherwood Smith
Apr 03, 2012 Sherwood Smith added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-books
This one stands alone, between the Inda storyline and the modern one.

Things that came and went in my head while I was writing it: the usual stuff I seem to engage with (different permutations of love, the cost of power, survival mentality and its pitfalls, magic and adventure) but also narratives and reliability and unreliability. The layers of narrative in records.

As always, whether any of it communicates or entertains is up to the reader!
Starts out with an seductively quotable opening statement, which I won't quote. Instead, I will say that the author seems to have written an *entire book* to address a single offhand complaint I made in a one-paragraph review of _Inda_ in 2006. (To wit: "...the narration has potholes; it's mostly tight-third-person, but sometimes jumps heads or goes omniscient to make some point.")

I know this is not possible. Instead, the author must have set up a stylistic rifle on the mantel in a 2006 book, ba...more
Dec 03, 2013 Shoshana rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, fantasy, transcends
Sherwood Smith writes these ridiculous books where she uses about fifty hundred different perspectives, elaborates on plots threads and characters that for hundreds of pages seem entirely irrelevant, and throws in dozens of unnecessary mini-lectures on history and linguistics - and it works. SO WELL.

I don't know any other author who can do what she does. She grips me even when I already know the end. In Banner of the Damned, I saw doom approaching for three hundred pages (out of a 700 page book)...more
I've been a fan of Sherwood Smith for many years, and have been looking forward to this book particularly, ever since reading the "Summer Thunder" excerpt. I was not disappointed at all. This book is definitely in a different category than her Young Adult books (Crown Duel, Posse, Wren, etc), mainly in my opinion due to complexity. This falls more along the lines of the Inda series, and is a great prequel to that story.

Sherwood Smith has the ability to make her world seem so rich that when I rea...more
Francesca Forrest
(n.b.: I read partial drafts of the novel, so I'm not an unbiased reviewer)

Banner of the Damned is a cunning novel that leads you to believe it’s doing one thing (and indeed, it is ) and then another (which it is too), and then, suddenly, you turn around, and you realize it’s also doing a third thing. At that point you’re reeling from Sherwood Smith’s storytelling skills.

So what is the third thing? Let me answer a question with a question: Have you ever wondered about the motivations of an evil...more
mm mm good. Long, engrossing, "epic" in scope without the cliches of epic fantasy. I loved the pov character, loved the slightly tricky narrative frame. I confess I guessed the "reveal" long before Emris did, but I think knowing or suspecting more than the narrator is deliberate. I liked that the author limited the characters she focussed on - I found the wide range of viewpoint characters in her Inda series confusing at times, and enjoyed settling in to watch the relationships between a small g...more
I feel like it's impossible for me to review BANNER OF THE DAMNED objectively; Sartorias-deles is one of those worlds that I've sunk so completely into, I'm finding it difficult to distinguish the novel from an actual scribe's record in Eidervaen. But I will try. I've read iterations of BANNER before, both in the short story Summer Thunder before Emras's perspective was pulled out, and heard the author do a reading of it at conference.

There is so much I want to say. More than anything, this boo...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
Banner of the Damned is a BIG book: almost 700 pages in hardcover, and with a lot of words squeezed onto every page. So it gets a big review.

PLOT: This is essentially two books in one, both centering around a scribe named Emras and her employer, Princess Lasva, in a quasi-medieval world. The first half is set in their peaceful home country of Colend, and deals with court intrigues, Lasva’s love life, and Emras’s growth from teenage scribe student to the most trusted member of Lasva’s staff. The...more
After years of rigid self-control and endless training, Emras is chosen as Royal Scribe to the Princess Lasva. Lasva is beautiful and kind, the younger sister of Colend's queen and the presumed heir to its throne. The Colendi court is full of poetry, music, flirtations and dance. Generations ago Colend signed the Compact, which swore the country to have no weapons. In the Colendi court, hierarchy is determined through wit and beauty, not martial superiority. But when Lasva's sister finally bears...more
I feel a bit at a loss, reviewing Sherwood Smith books anymore. I love her Wren books, and the Crown Duel set, but pretty much everything after that has been a let down. When the Inda books came out, I was excited for an adult series and while I finished the first book, I just didn't love it enough to keep going. Picking up Banner of the Damned was an act of faith for me. Since it's a standalone (although long enough for two books) I felt safe enough and while I did read it and it wasn't too bad...more
I think what pleased me the most about this book was how much Inda was in it. I knew it took place several hundred years after Inda's epic saga so I was expecting a completely separate tale. And, at first, it seemed like that's what we had. Our story begins in Colend and we learn the court rules and politics of a culture only briefly learned about in the Inda stories. (Tau's knowledge of Colendi plays is what I remember the most.) I love Sherwood Smith for how deep the rabbit hole goes. When she...more
Let me say right off the bat that I adore Sherwood Smith, and I adored the Inda series. (And if you haven't read the Inda series, there is absolutely no reason for you to pick up this book, because the most compelling elements of it depend on you knowing the history of Sartorias-Deles.)

But (and you knew there was a "but"), this book just didn't work for me. A large part of that was because of the way the story was framed. The story is told from the perspective of a first-person narrator - the s...more
Anne Osterlund
Emras is taught to be a scribe. To hide in the background and observe, not just the words people say but the emotions and truths behind them.

When she is assigned to stand alongside Lasva of Collend as the princess’s personal scribe, Emras can imagine no higher honor. But this will change. With the birth of an heir that will change both Emras’s world and Lasva’s. With a romantically driven assault that will invite a warrior into a kingdom renowned for peace. And with a new task.

A task that will t...more
Nov 04, 2013 Janny added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
An intricate court intrigue in a highly developed world - this book is a delightful, leisurely read that builds carefully and delivers a poignant, powerful finish. Spans the gamut between a civilized court and a culture of manners and progresses to a second setting that is austere and centered on warfare, which created a tension of contrasts with lots of depth.
katayoun Masoodi
maybe sometimes, 3 1/5 if i hadn't read any of smith's other books, but i love this world and a story about this world is a happy event and usually atleast 4 for just existing!
Jan 05, 2013 Phoebe rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nanci B.
Shelves: adult, fantasy
Emras tells her lengthy story in the form of a defense, but we don't understand the circumstances under which she should need to write a defense until close to the end of this nearly 700 page fantasy masterpiece. Her scribe skills and manner of deportment are such that she is made Royal Scribe to the princess Lasvas at only 16; this coveted position, however, carries with it a dismaying complexity that requires Emras to be extremely careful and discreet. Then, when the queen finally has a child,...more
Banner of the Damned is a perfect example of why Sherwood Smith is a genius. The world of Sartorias-deles that she has created is rich in history and detail. This book ties together so many threads from her previous stories (Inda, Crown Duel, Senrid, A Stranger to Command) that you can't help but be amazed by her skill as a world-builder and storyteller.

Banner of the Damned covered so much ground, that it felt like I was reading a whole series, rather than one book. The main character Emras star...more
Oh my. What a book - this was the best read I've had for quite a while, it really is the definition of an epic fantasy - stretching out over time, featuring many nations, vastly different cultures, and dozens of vividly drawn characters. Reading it was like swimming in a vast bubblebath, all embracing, deeply relaxing and every time I dipped into it I would forget all about my daily concerns. Although, the bubblebath comparison makes it sound amorphous and this is a very thoughtfully constructed...more
So I liked the style of this book. An Asian-feeling fantasy setting with intricate social customs and politics, viewed through the eyes of a rather naive scribe who has access to the highest nobility. I think I didn't like it better than I did because I was just missing context. I think this book is set about 400 years after the author's previous series, something I didn't know when I picked up the book. I felt the lack of that background, especially once I left the first section of the book. Be...more
A young scribe follows her beloved princess, who is swept away by a barbarian prince, takes up the study of magic and discovers a plot is far more complex, and that goes back far longer, than she imagines. This is a fine example of a book that would have been much better if 300-400 pages shorter. The author is good at action scenes but:
A) She devotes huge wads of the story to developing the culture of gesture and subtlety in which the princess is raised, but next to, say, Daniel Abraham's simila...more
Hannah Ringler
So, the first thing you ought to know about Banner of the Damned is that Sherwood Smith’s books are pretty much all set in the same ‘verse. There are a couple of exceptions - Exordium, for example, is a space opera, and Wren’s books are set in, well, Wren’s world - but the seven books that make up the Inda, Banner of the Damned, and Crown Duel sequence are all set in Sartorias-Deles. They are also all doorstoppers, which gives you a vague inkling of the complexity of the worldbuilding that goes...more
Sylvia McIvers
I loved the Inda books,and when I saw the Fox banner I picked up the books right away. There was an all new cast - say what? Oops, should have read the back cover. This book takes place 400 years later.

The book opens with Emras, a disgraced scribe, proving she can do a good job,and she is re-instated. She is sent to Princess Lavsa, who is as non-political as a person can be in Colendi, where war has been banned on account of it /totally/ ruins the drape of your clothes.

Lavsa falls in love, has h...more
Harry Kloss
Having loved the Inda novels, I was excited to find this book which takes place in the same world as Inda four hundred years later.

One hundred pages into it precious little had occurred. I had to continually tell myself to keep reading as I'd already invested so much time in it. It is almost all rhetoric and no action, and it was for me dull and disappointing.
Lucky enough to read this in MS - can't wait to reread it in print. Takes place several hundred years after the events in the Inda books, and as well as being a great story in its own right, shows multiple different perspectives on the earlier books. Wonderful.
I would recommend reading the Inda series first. I haven't and am having a difficult time with this. (A very detailed and complicated world, little action so far, and almost no backstory.)
Lenora Rose
Beautifully crafted story of politics, of romances (Sometimes constrained and star-crossed by politics), and of war - or rather, war as the absolute last resort of politics, and about a people who try everything in their power to avoid violence, who find it abhorrent to an extent that is almost alien even to the 21st century mind, and their dealings with a people for whom battle training, and battle, are the natural go-to solution for politics.

This book had a slow start (Not something I expect...more
The scribes have three rules.
First Rule: Do not interfere.
Second Rule: Keep The Peace.
Third Rule: Tell the truth as we see it.

This is what happens when rules are broken.

We follow the story of Emras, Princess Lasva's personal scribe and the flashbacks she brings up both from her own life and of those around her. However, we, as the reader, already know that something is wrong in that first page:

I can see your ironic faces, those of my judges who know that I began life as a scribe. This, my defen...more
Nothing is more fun than to give your consciousness over to a really skilled author and allow them to take you otherwhere, otherwhen. Nobody is a better guide to otherland than Sherwood Smith. Her worlds are complete, no seams showing, all of the the tabs in the correct slots, believable and compelling. She is a mistress of world building and her tales derive from the essence of her worlds. Her characters are formed by their place and time, their surroundings enforcing and enhancing their develo...more

I really love how well Smith balances sweeping political drama with personal, intimate stories.

I wasn't quite sure where this was going at first--the beginning of the book is all about Colendi court culture, which, though deeply developed, wasn't very entertaining for me. I may also have been impatient to get back to Marloven Hesea, which is where the Inda series took place four hundred years previous. As I should have expected, the culture there has changed (sometimes in horrifying ways). At...more
So. Another serious disappointment for me. (Yes if you read my reviews I am in an unbroken record of disappointments.) Basically Sherwood is another favorite author of mine, fabulous at delivering epic adventures with characters that stay in your head for weeks afterward. She rarely does happy endings so I am used to that. But this... This was just ridiculous.

Basically I felt betrayed at the end. I didn't know what the whole point was anymore. I a truly stumped. We take over half the book learni...more
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I am a writer, but I'm here on Goodreads to talk about books, as I've been a passionate reader as long as I've been a writer--since early childhood.

I'm not going to rate books--there are too many variables. I'd rather talk about the reading experience. My 'reviews' of my books are confined to the writing process.

More about Sherwood Smith...
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