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The Gilded Chain (King's Blades #1)

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,563 Ratings  ·  96 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 pr

...more
Paperback, 418 pages
Published September 1st 1999 by Harper Voyager (first published 1998)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Bookwraiths
Oct 10, 2015 Bookwraiths rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths Reviews

The Gilded Chain begins the six book series The King’s Blades by Dave Duncan. (If one includes the companion young adult trilogy The King’s Daggers, then there are nine novels in this fantasy world.) The unique thing about The King’s Blades series is that every book is a stand alone tale set in the same world but with brand new characters and different adventures; something that all readers weary of long multi-volume, interconnected fantasy works should
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Werner
Jul 06, 2015 Werner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fantasy fans
Recommended to Werner by: My wife (as a Christmas gift)
Shelves: fantasy, books-i-own
When my wife gave me this book for Christmas, back in the 90s (I've got so many unread books piled in stacks that they tend to sit around a long time, alas!), my initial guess, having no prior experience at all with Duncan's work, was that the King's Blades series would be fantasy based on the Three Musketeers tradition in pop culture. That's not the case. The setting is a pre-technological world with affinities to our early modern one, and the King's Blades are an elite royal bodyguard; but tha ...more
Mark
Jul 28, 2008 Mark rated it really liked it
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 warrior
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Impy
May 22, 2013 Impy rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeff
Sep 04, 2015 Jeff rated it it was amazing
Really had a good time with this one. It has everything: swords, sorcery, politics, a little romance.... The pacing is quick. The characters are engaging. Looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.
Justus
Dec 18, 2010 Justus rated it it was ok
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
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Profundus Librum
Sep 23, 2013 Profundus Librum rated it it was amazing
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
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Tincangoat
Nov 09, 2014 Tincangoat rated it really liked it
If there is one thing Dave Duncan does well, it's his descriptions. From a large harbor master breaching the crowd like a whale to a king's belly filling a wheelbarrow to a lantern-wielding lackey preceding a night-bound carriage and watching for potholes, these are the things that bring me back to Duncan.

Even so, Duncan does things that detract from the story; most notably are the names. Whether it's the name of a place or a person, Duncan provides far too many alternate names for the reader to
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Laura
Nov 21, 2013 Laura rated it it was amazing
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.
Hilde
Oct 12, 2014 Hilde rated it did not like it
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)
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Lorena
Apr 20, 2010 Lorena rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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!
ROSE
Aug 29, 2011 ROSE rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
4.5

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 !
Jared Bird
Apr 26, 2016 Jared Bird rated it liked it
So, this book is much more about swords than chains, but yet it's called The Gilded Chain?

Anyways, this book is simultaneously exciting high fantasy and political drudgery. That's not to say that politics can't be exciting (in fact, the first segment is all politics, but I found it to be interesting... until the plot line ended just as the intrigue and conflict got juicy. That was really poorly done, in my opinion).

The story is divided into several parts, which each contain individual plots that
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Jess
Nov 26, 2010 Jess rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hero-pov, fantasy
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
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Scott Marlowe
Apr 29, 2010 Scott Marlowe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-books
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
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Sean Randall
Jul 28, 2009 Sean Randall rated it liked it
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
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Randy
Aug 08, 2013 Randy rated it liked it
*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
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Katie
May 24, 2013 Katie rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, cannibalism
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
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Angie
Apr 13, 2011 Angie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ane
Aug 31, 2010 Ane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Julie
Oct 22, 2012 Julie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
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
Michael Tharp
Oct 17, 2015 Michael Tharp rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
One of the most original stories I have ever read.
This is the Musketeers in a Fantasy setting. Imagine, if you could have one of the of the best trained body guards in the world, magically bonded to you. No matter what kind of person you are, They are bound to protect you to the death.

Dave Duncan creates heroes, flawed and human, yet remarkable and adventurous. A great fantasy novel that speaks of the nature of honour.
Jon Athan
Apr 29, 2016 Jon Athan rated it really liked it
It has been a while since I read this book, but I remember it fondly. The hero is an elite swordsmen, magically bound to protect the king, or a person of his choosing. There is a plot against the king, a mysteriously missing brother in arms, a group of immortal warriors in a faraway land, and more. It is a very enjoyable book. I need to reread this, and then start on the rest of the series.
Éric Kasprak
Great concept, great action and great writing style. But some sections of the novels fail to keep me entertained (too slow, too mundane), I think the actions sequence are so well done that the in-between felt sluggish. More of a medieval with magic type of adventure than a straight up sword and sorcery but definitely a good action oriented book. If you like classic adventure novels like the Three Musketeers and Arthurian lore you will like this book.
Ruby
Nov 25, 2015 Ruby rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
One of the best books that I have read in a while. With a mixture of humor,magic and adventure Dave Duncan has delivered a book in the tradition of Robin Hobb. He totally transported into his world and it was a shock to wake up into a modern world when I finished his book.

This book definetly has earned a five star rating and I urge everyone to read this book.
Genny
Jun 11, 2015 Genny rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
I enjoyed the concepts in this book. The world was well developed and intriguing. I liked or was interested in (almost) all the characters. The change in time periods was off-putting, and there were several parts of this story that would have made great books on their own. I was disappointed by how much of the main characters life was simply skimmed over.
Kate
Oct 05, 2012 Kate rated it really liked it
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)
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Dan Smyth
The premise seemed mildly interesting, but I couldn't get past the writing. Just didn't care for it, and I can't enjoy a book if I don't lose myself in it. Will probably try reading something else from this author and see if things are different in another book.
Katie
Dec 13, 2015 Katie rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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
Crystal
Sep 03, 2010 Crystal rated it liked it
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
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