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The First Book of Swords (Books of Swords, #1)
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The First Book of Swords (Books of Swords #1)

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  5,209 ratings  ·  82 reviews
The gods decide to devise a Game of great fun: their colleague Vulcan forges 12 magic Swords, each with a different power, and scatters them across the world. Play begins in grand and gloriously violent fashion as Swords are gathered and used to control chance, enhance fortune, and change destiny. The holder of a Sword wields power undreamed... power to change the world an ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 309 pages
Published April 28th 1984 by Tor Books (first published 1983)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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This one of the first novels that introduced me to the fantasy genre, and therefore I will always have a soft spot for this story. I tried re-reading the story recently for the first time in many years, and I didn't get very far before I had to put the book down. Thanks to Saberhagen for helping to introduce me to such an amazing genre, but this is no longer a book that I enjoy.
I'm aware that this is a large series, but for some reason I was under the impression that each novel could be a standalone. So it was with mild disappointment that I read the last page without getting to the
punchline, the novel ending as a chapter does.
I know there is a game afoot, created by the gods who distribute twelve magical swords to humankind, but I'm a little miffed at still being left in the dark. Time will tell if I do bother to continue with the story,
which has been pretty good so f
Keith Davis
The gods create twelve magic swords, each with a power and a curse, and turn them loose on humanity as a sort of game they can sit back and observe. The Book of Swords was Saberhagen's best fantasy series, but it is sort of like Farmer's Riverworld in that the idea is almost too big to carry off. Saberhagen could have written Swords novels for the rest of his life dealing with the various weapons and their interactions. Saberhagen is always an exciting and entertaining read.
This is a review of the Book of Swords trilogy--but not any of the later swords books.

I fell in love with Saberhagen with the Berserker books. I read the Books of Swords as they came out in the early 80s, and then re-read them this Summer. And they're very good. Saberhagen creates a fascinating world where the relationship between gods and humans is complex and fascinating--and that relationship drives the story. The gods create a set of 12 swords with magical powers as part of a game to play wi
This book series has a great concept: there are a handful of magical swords that were forged and scattered across the land, each with unique powers to grant the individual wielding it. The story of these swords and the hands they fall into is the premise of this book. I thought it could have been great if the author had pulled it off right. Unfortunately the execution was lacking in the imagination that the idea promised. The medieval setting was too familiar and uninspired. There is too much fo ...more
Jeremy Preacher
This is another book that I read young enough that I can't be really objective about it. However, it holds up to a reread well enough, which is always a huge relief.

The First... is an oddly structured book. Mark, whose conception we see in the prologue, and the Swords (which... likewise) are the main characters of this series. (Yes, the main characters are largely inanimate objects.) The essay at the end (about which more in a bit) mentions that the series was written as the basis for "microcomp
The First Book of Swords is simple, but I loved it! Swords with special powers and kingdoms at war are not the most unique things in the world, but interesting characters, gods, and a fast paced plot push this book into greatness. I admit, the story was slow to start for me. The prologue was boring, and the main character walking around made me skip sections, but that was only a small part of the book, and I'm glad I stuck through it. I couldn't wait to find out what happens to the swords and th ...more
This is one of those books I recall fondly. As a young person it, along with plenty of other fiction such as the Lord of the Rings, Narnia, the Prydan Chronicles, etc. inspired me a great deal. This series actually proves to have more depth than I recall it having.

The series itself helped to kindle my life-long love of stories about collections of objects. One thing I always didn't like about the Lord of the Rings was that we were told about this collection of magic rings, but we only 'really' g
Michael Thorn
Ah, this was great; a very tasty read. I had been interested in this series for a long time because I love the concept. I knew I would enjoy the mythology of it and the swords themselves. I didn't expect the book to be so good though! It's well written (though I found the prologue a bit tedious) with interesting and enjoyable characters.

It never gets too deep in the characterization, and it jumps around between multiple characters frequently, but it strives to make sure interesting things are a
Stuff I Read – The First Book of Swords by Fred Saberhagen Review

So not that recently (for my last birthday way back in June 2012), my wife was awesome enough to give me the complete Book of Lost Swords series, collected in three large hard cover books. I had bought the original Book of Swords books from a library book sale way back in the day and read them and enjoyed them in that they were fun and feature magic swords and a strange setting and Roman gods and a number of other things, and then
Lisa Francis
Fred Saberhagen's Book of Swords series is really captivating. This First Book of Swords tells the tale of the son of a one-armed blacksmith now turned miller who runs away knowing his brother is dead and thinking his father is as well with the family heirloom sword forged by Vulcan himself and is now pursued by several high ranking lords/queens who wish to possess all 12 of the magic swords forged by Vulcan. Each sword has a specific power that will only activate in a certain way. We are introd ...more
The First Book of Swords. The title about says it all. I find that while this first volume is tremendously engrossing I am at a loss to quote the specifics of that pull.

The book revolve around the making and subsequent acquiring of twelve swords of power. These weapons a "god made" enchanted or more specifically imbued with helpful but mostly terrifying traits that make each peerless in its specification.

Our tale begins with the crafting then thirteen years later the eventual scramble for twelve
This is first book in Swords series written by Saberhagen. This review is really of the whole series as one big story. It is a good serial story told in installments rather than really a collection of individual books that are related. The story revolves around a collection of swords that each have great powers and great limitations, and in some cases great liabilities. The swords were made by the Greek god Hesphestus (god of blacksmithing) and put on earth to be fought over by mortals for some ...more
Sven Mysterioso
This one is from my foggy ancient past, and I read it as a youngster to boot, so bear with me.

I loved the concept of semi-aware artifacts running loose in the world. With specific powers and goals and attitudes and influences. Its a good strong concept, and one that really lends itself to good epic fiction and large collections.

Saberhagen isn't a bad writer either, although I will really need to revisit with an adult eye now. I remember not been so enthralled that I had to consume every single s
Probably closer to 3.5 stars, but it's creative enough to warrant a little generosity.

The first book in Saberhagen's Swords Trilogy has a number of things going for it, particularly the creation of the Swords themselves, some of the coolest magic items in all fantasy literature. The plot conceit behind it is a good one as well: a great game of the gods has kicked off and the chaos inspired by the swords is the genesis of it.

There's a number of oddities, some of which fit and others that don't. T
Saberhagen's Berzerker stories are some of my favorite memories from my early science fiction reading. Never read his fantasy stuff. This is middling fantasy. More tolerable than the pretentious sprawling eleven-volume tripe that has become the norm, and not saddled with flashes of porn. A little light on character development, but a quick, enjoyable read. Ends oddly. Stops in the middle of nowhere, rather than in a cliffhanger.
May 05, 2008 Darin rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one.
Shelves: fantasy
This book started out great and I honestly tried to get through the entire thing, but after 200 pages, I gave up. The story slowed down, the main characters both started using false names, and the history of the swords was not alluded to enough. Through the pages I got through, you only find out about two of the (12?) swords that were constructed by a Hephaestus-like being.

Another great science fantasy series. This series is a set of stories of individual stories about mythical swords, their power, and what happens to the people who come across them. It's an interesting mix of quasi-mythology with a science fantasy story line.

It's a fun set of stories, light and quick reads ad if you like this kind of thing, you'll really enjoy the series.

Gautam Surath
Not unexpected that I would find this a good read considering its about swords and sorcery. But in a different vein from the usual, the swords take the center stage here making the title an apt one. Each sword has its unique quality with which it was forged and we see a couple of them in this opening book. Lets see what the rest bring.
(4.5 stars)

I haven't read anything by Saberhagen in ages, so picked this up when I stumbled on it.

There isn't much to say about it - high fantasy, magical swords, hints that all is not as it appears. My only complaint is the fact that things are gleaned by divination rather than spies and footwork, half the time.
Sorry to say I have no interest in Mark, Ben or Barbara. I was mildly interested in Nestor but there was too much jumping around to keep me interested. It started out really good with that prologue but...

Well I read the list of swords taken from Saberhagen's list and I'm just going to leave it at that.
I enjoyed the book, and hugely appreciate that even though went got war, he didn't get bogged down in detailed battle scenes, but let us focus on what some non-combatants were doing sometimes. I'm curious about what happens next, but don't feel driven to get the next book in my hands right away....
Emily Nudge
Suggested by my closest in age brother a long time ago. now finally getting around to reading it. I'm far enough along that I know I'm going to have to read the whole series. Library account activate!
This is a good beginning to this series - there were a few twists and turns that were enjoyable and overall, this is a good read for me - enough that I will continue the series at this point.
Pace picked up well enough at the end to make me want to read the second book.
Great start to a series, abrupt end. Good thing I have the next two books.
The Swords are genius; their creation, their powers. Definitely my kind of book.
Dudes and their swords. I am not going to make any excuses, though. I read it, I liked it.
I don't know what to say about this book. I have no critique but it just didn't really capture my interest? The plot was an interesting idea, the writing was decent, but I never really got to the point where I started to care about the characters and what happens to them. I'm thinking it's probably because this book was basically written as a background/expositiony prologue to the rest of the series. But a good series really shouldn't take more than one book to get interesting. I'll probably giv ...more
Eric Bryant
Great start to a series. The concept of the swords is fantastic and intriguing.
Aaron Meyer
I did enjoy this book and would of liked to have given it 4 stars but the ending just wasn't an ending. The story is interesting and flows quickly no doubt, but to end it as abruptly as it did it just seemed like it was a complete story written that was broken in two by the publishers or something. While reading and thinking about the swords I had waves of reminiscence about reading Moorcock's Elric series. Though vastly different there were points of similarity. I figure Elric was written earli ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Book Info missing page numbers 2 13 Apr 15, 2015 05:00AM  
  • Elric at the End of Time (Elric, #7)
  • Thieves' World (Thieves' World, #1)
  • Saint Camber (The Legends of Camber of Culdi, #2)
  • The Misenchanted Sword (Ethshar, #1)
  • The Courts of Chaos
  • Master of the Five Magics
  • Conan (Book 1)
  • Swords Against Wizardry (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, #4)
  • Conan of the Isles (Conan 12)
  • The Sword and the Chain (Guardians of the Flame, #2)
  • The Warlock in Spite of Himself (Warlock Series, #1)

Other Books in the Series

Books of Swords (4 books)
  • The Second Book of Swords (Books of Swords, #2)
  • The Third Book of Swords (Books of Swords, #3)
  • The Complete Book of Swords (Books of Swords, #1-3)

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