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The Gilded Chain (King's Blades #1)

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  2,053 ratings  ·  80 reviews

As unwanted and rebellious boys, they find refuge in Ironhall....Years later they emerge as the finest swordsmen in the realm—A magical ritual of a sword through the heart binds each to his ward—if not the king himself, then to whomever else the monarch designates—with absolute loyalty.And the greatest Blade of them all was—and is—Sir Durendal.

But a lifelong dream of pro

Paperback, 418 pages
Published September 1st 1999 by Harper Voyager (first published 1998)
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Jul 28, 2008 Mark rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: All fans of fantasy novels
Shelves: fantasy
The novel "The Gilded Chain" is a high fantasy novel by Dave Duncan. I recommend it! It is by no means perfect. However, it's a page-turner and a good read. It is the first installment of the "King's Blades" series.

The Plot

The setting for this novel is a fantasy world separate from but much like our own Europe during the middle ages. There exists a knightly order called "The Blades" which recruits youngsters and then, through a mixture of magic and training, forges them into the finest warriors
A swords & sorcery fantasy books with echoes of the Three Musketeers that does some things well and some things poorly.

What Duncan does especially well is trim out the bloat that usually infests fantasy. In a single book we're given a lifetime of adventures from possibly the greatest King's Blade of all time, from his first misguided binding to his final geriatric retirement.

While Duncan does end up tying a couple of the threads together in a loose way, essentially what we're presented are a
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Profundus Librum
Az aranyszín láncban sir Durendal hosszú életét és legendáját követhetjük nyomon – pár (hét) rövidebb novella-szerű részletben. Hogyan lesz egy vakarcsból minden idők legjobb Pengéje, legnemesebb, leghűségesebb kardforgatója, Chivial hőse, később mégis ura és jótevője – a mindenki által igen tisztelt és hőn szeretett (vagy félt), ravasz és bátor Ambrose király – végzete.

A könyv nagy erénye, hogy az intrikus részek egyenértékű minőséget képviselnek az akciókban, világi kalandokban gazdagabb része
OK plot, well written, good worldbuilding, BUT: The female characters were handled so badly that it was noticable and annoying. I've read lots of books describing societies where women have less power than men, so that's not the problem. But the women were mostly invisible, or when they appeared they were described so briefly that you could practically hear the author muttering "Let's get boring this female stuff out of the way so I can return to important things". Minor spoiler:
(view spoiler)
What a great book! Everything that a sword-and-sorcery novel should be. Even the minor characters seemed fully realized, and the major ones all the more so. The plotting was also excellent...I really enjoyed the way the story unfolded. I will definitely be reading on in the series, and am even considering upgrading my Kindle edition to a physical book, which, giving my shrinking shelf space, is a rare thing these days!

Vraiment très bon. L'aspect politique est présent mais évite l'assommant, la part de fantasy contient juste ce qu'il faut de magie, et le côté "cape et épée" est beaucoup plus prenant qu'il n'y paraît.
Bref, un ensemble qui sonne juste, et qui nous transporte en toute simplicité !
J'adore !
Absolutely wonderful book, I picked it up sometime last night and devoured it within the hours I could before bed, during my watch, and sneaking a peak here and there during lunch and finally after work. Books like this could get a gal like me in trouble, unable to put the damn thing down when it's time to work!

I found the characters extremely engaging and wanted to know much more about everyone, so I guess it's off to the next book in the series for me!

November edit: At the end of this year, I
Scott Marlowe
The Gilded Chain by Dave Duncan is the first in his six book King's Blade series. While the story in each novel takes places in the same world, each work stands alone as a tale unto itself. This first book tells the story of Durendal, a waif with little future who is recruited to become a King's Blade, a swashbuckling swordsman bound by magic to serve either the king or whoever the king so chooses.

The enchantment is important as it defines the identities of the Blades as a whole. It goes beyond
Sean Randall
This book has garnered a lot of good will, from some very high-flying people. my views on Duncan are something of a mixed bag - I absolutely loved his Seventh sword series but wasn't too keen on the Alchemists Apprentice.

I was nevertheless presently surprised by the Gilded chain. Perhaps, because the first seventh sword book was that little bit shorter, or perhaps just because it was a different story, I enjoyed it (and subsequently the series) that much more. Gilded chain started to chafe a lit
*SPOILER ALERT* I’ll try to talk in general terms before getting into specifics of the plot.

I know people who speak highly of these books, but it just didn’t trip my trigger. Oh, it teased some, but it never got me there.

Pros: An interesting setting in an intrigue-y world. It reminded me a lot of Joe Abercrombie’s First Law’s setting. (To be fair, Duncan’s book precedes Abercrombie’s by about 8 years.) The idea of the King’s Blades is an awesome one. There’s interesting magic system.

Cons: Flat c
The ideas were there (magically bound nubile young swordsmen to serve as guardians for the King and anyone he wants!), but the execution was messy. The novel takes place over a long span of time and, contrary to what one may think, this actually makes it more difficult to get to know the main character(s).

We start with Durendal as a young man filled with thoughts of glory and adventure in the name of his liege lord. With an ungraceful swordthrust to the heart, he becomes the babysitter of the ne
Il est un fort, sur la lande, où l'on envoie les enfants rebelles : le Hall de Fer. Quand ils en sortent, des années plus tard, ils sont devenus les meilleurs épéistes du royaume. Un rituel magique les a assignés à la protection d'un pupille : le roi lui-même ou une personnalité de son choix. Ils le serviront jusqu'à la mort, qu'ils le veuillent ou non. Ces combattants d'exception sont les Lames du Roi. Le plus grand d'entre eux fut messire Durendal. Et voici l'histoire de sa vie. Sa carrière co ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This was the latest selection for my sci-fi/fantasy book club and I think they picked a winner. It is a high fantasy book that follows Durendal, a member of a group of elite swordsman called the Blades. The leaps of time, sometimes 5-10 years at a chapter break, threw me off at first. Once I accepted that the book covers the majority of Durendal's life instead of only a short period as implied by the blurb on the back, I began to appreciate it more. I'm not usually one for the needless use of ma ...more
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Kyle Dunham
Overall, I thought this book was fantastic. The only reason I didn't give it five stars was I expect the following books in the series to be even better. The only problem I had with the book is that I thought the beginning was very dull and it took me until the second time I picked it up for me to be enveloped into the story. I HIGHLY recommend this book, it is a true epic, and well worth your time.
The Gilded Chain is the first book in the series. I've already reserved the second and third.

The Gilded Chain is about politics, in the best sort of way. It mainly follows one character, Durendal, but in a non-linear way. Mild spoilers. (view spoiler)
A quick & fun read. Your 'basic' story of a boy being trained as a knight/fighter, showing great skill, and his life in service to his king. The twist is that these aren't ordinary knights...they are Blades, bound to the ward they are to protect, their attributes magically enhanced. A Blade must protect his ward to the death, even if he hates his ward. And the main character, one of the most skilled youths to come through the training for a while, has been thrown away on a grovelling toady w ...more
The Gilded Chain follows Durendal one of the Kings Blades through his career, from being the Brat to one of the most powerful and respected men in the kingdom. Durendal is a good man, too good. He seemed a little flat in that, I wish he had some faults. I do wish that the story had been a bit longer and that character relationships had been given more time to develop on the page. When Durendal is sent off on a journey with his own blade and an Inquisitor they arrive on the next page 800 days lat ...more
Eric Jackson
On second read this book is less than it was when I read it Hmbrugmph years ago. The story is the best of its kind of story from late nineties fantasy. Singular, strong, smart, lucky, dedicated swordsman goes on adventures and by his own will sets the world right. A great story and a likeable main character in an interesting world with a great magic system. So where does it go wrong, characterization of all the side characters, especially the female ones, though since the story is totally focuse ...more
Jonathan Madison
I absolutely love this book. The book has a great swashbuckling atmosphere that combined with a unique magic system and well drawn characters sucked me in completely. The series in general also has a unique quality in that each of the first three books (Lord of the Fire Lands and Sky of Swords) cover the same time period, but from different characters perspectives.

All that being said I know this book isn't as well written as most of the other books I rate as 4/5 stars, but there is just somethin
Apr 02, 2012 Ankur rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
the best part about the book is that it ended with 1 book, and is not a trilogy or more! Thank god!

i found the concept of Blades - on which the whole story is based- a bit too flexible and frankly half the time could not get sense of how things are moving. there are few delightful instances of intrigue between King and the Blade, but they r few and far between.

Where it scores is the fast pace - the back n forth between past and present and the way the narrative takes a jump in time and moves ahe
Un cycle de fantasy que je recommande chaudement : très facile à lire, un scénario à la hauteur, très bien déroulé et surtout une thématique originale. Tout est là pour un moment intense : l’histoire va à 100 à l’heure et ne s’encombre pas de descriptions inutiles, fans de Zola ou Tolkien, passez votre chemin. Du cape et d’épées emprunt de surnaturel et de sorcellerie : l’ambiance est baroque et sombre, va cotoyer l’univers des Crépusculaires de Mathieu Gaborit tout en étant clairement estampill ...more
Michael S.
I tried but couldn't force myself past the first few chapters. This book demonstrates why I usually stay away from stand-alone fantasy novels. No background, no world building and very little character development. (with the exception of Brandon Sanderson's Elantris) at least i guess this book is a stand alone--if not then it sure reads like one- which is not a good beginning for a series Plus I couldn't keep from gagging every time the narrator of this book repeatedly used the phrase--"Most won ...more
Crusty Toenail
I was turning pages without realizing how much time had passed. To me, that's the sign of an entertaining book.

The book tells the story of a swordsman bound magically to a liege lord. The narrative is primarily from the third person but sometimes from the protagonist's perspective too.

If you like reading books about larger than life knightly heroes that's light on the intrigue but heavy on the action and suspense then this book is for you. Pick it up and prepared to be entertained.

Good read!
This is my third time reading this book, yet it has been a long enough that I only remembered the general plot, and not much of the specifics. It was interesting reading it this time as I know more history, and was now able to appreciate that Henry VIII was the obvious inspiration behind the character of the king. This book is a fast paced, entertaining, yet fairly grisly, standalone tale, but the true brilliance of it can only be appreciated when you read all three books in the series.
An interesting new series, I have discovered. I like the general swashbuckling, sword swinging nature of the story. The premise of well trained swordsmen, magically bonded to their wards with special abilities is a good one. The story of this "first" in the series of a King's Blade was good. The magic of the realm intriguing without becoming cumbersome or inane. I look forward to seeing how the sequels stack up in the rest of the series.
On the surface this is a fairly routine fantasy swashbuckler that works fine as a stand-alone novel. But when read as part of the trilogy (with Lord of the Fire Lands and Sky of Swords you discover that Duncan has taken the idea of "history being written by the winners" and given it a fictional twist - the three stories are not at all consistent, as the different points of view affect what you as the reader see and hear.
One of my top five favorite fantasy novels. The concept of the Blades (swordsmen magically sworn to protect one persons their whole lives)is great, and I really enjoyed the complex "flashback" story of one Blade's life from youth to old age. Also a really interesting system of magic. A lot of homages to "A Man For All Seasons" and Henry VIII of England. Less emphasis on action, more on character development.
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