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

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  4,181 ratings  ·  61 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, 0 pages
Published April 28th 1984 by Tor Books (first published 1983)
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Josh
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...more
Ithlilian
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
Wise_owl
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...more
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...more
Charles
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...more
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
Robert
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...more
Jeffery Conklin
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
Rey 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...more
Bill
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...more
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.
Monk
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.
Darin
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.


Jim
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.
Mars
(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.
Angie
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.
Helen
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!
Joe
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.
Jackie
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.
Erancal
Great start to a series. The concept of the swords is fantastic and intriguing.
Rolandofeld
Feb 18, 2014 Rolandofeld rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rolandofeld by: Edge
A decent enough read. Not anything I'm likely to pick back up again but it pulled me along well enough while I was reading it. Be warned, the concept of swords that have X or Y niche power inherently leads to a book where said book with said power will be used in a specific, and potentially very hackneyed, situation.

But still, Saberhagen does a good to great job of pulling you along with a strong 'what will happen next' appeal. Characters are also good, if a bit two dimensional, as well.
Marc Taylor
I haven't read this series since the '80s, and while I'm waiting for Words of Radiance to be released figured I'd give it another go. I listen to 99.99% of my books, and this was a quick and easy listen.

Like many reviewers before me, this book lacks a whole lot of depth. That being said, because of the fond memories associated with this series, I did not try and compare the writing to that of say Sanderson, Jordan, Rothfuss, Card, etc. This is a good little book with a really stupid ending poin...more
Chris
I've heard and read several reviews stating that this was a great read... as a child or young adult. That, I can certainly believe. As an adult, this reads like something composed by someone writing in an unfamiliar language, or someone very young and inexperienced in writing - the prose is awkward and stilted, the phrasing and word choice often used repeatedly in sentence after sentence, and the the characterization is comically stereotypical and black and white.

It's just bad. I really like som...more
Nowheregirl
Been struggling with this book for a week now...on the verge of giving up at points. The only thing that kept me going was the whole "set in future dystopian fantasy" background. I really want to know what's what and will go through the whole series just to understand that.
Jeff
I re-read the Books of Swords really quickly to see what I thought -- I pretty well remembered the plots because I read the three main books like five times between the ages of 12 and 15. Over 20 years ago! My dad had a copy of The Complete Book of Swords from the Science Fiction Book Club.

The plots remained kinda awesome... the prose, not really. This is the kind of lazy fantasy you can plow through like bowls of candy until you overindulge and swear you will never touch the stuff again.

Anyway...more
Wanda Hartzenberg
The First Book of Swords by Fred Saberhagen published 2012. Narrated by Derek Perkins.
8 Hrs 52 Min 9 Sec
The narrator Derek Perkins did a very good job in making this story come alive.
Although I am a ardent Fantasy reader this book did not really grip my attention as much as I figured it would after reading the blurb.
The story is never slow though it is simply that the book is setting the stage for a series that I am sure will be much more captivating than the first book in the story. It had it...more
Robert
My first read was almost 20 years ago and it was an instant classic in my mind. Over the years there have been many writers that have stepped up and really grabbed the fantasy genre by the horns. Alas, Saberhagen cannot compete in this and is much better enjoyed in science fiction. The tale(s) are fun but there's not much depth. The relationship between deity and mortal is a bit different and the sword powers are quirky and original. However it just can't hold up to some of the newer epic fantas...more
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