Wealhtheow's Reviews > The Privilege of the Sword

The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner
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Jul 30, 07

bookshelves: mannerpunk, fantasy
Read in December, 2006

The book is set a dozen or so years after Swordspoint, one of my very favorite fantasy stories. Alec Campion, the Mad Duke of Tremontaine, summons his young niece to the city. He promises to alleviate her family’s financial situation if she’ll obey his one command—she must dress only in men’s clothing and learn to fight. There are many fantasy books about young, naïve girls who learn to swordfight and defy convention, and most of them are terrible (even the Alanna series has some serious faults). This is not one of those books. Kate is initially far from pleased at her new situation, and the gradual growth of her appreciation for dueling is believable. The story starts frothily, with characters new and old whipping about, all having a grand old time double-crossing each other. But as it progresses, Privilege of the Sword becomes more about intimate power struggles and the right to personal freedom than just political infighting. Kate’s character also deepens, and while she retains a silly streak (she has a tendency to romanticize) she becomes a very likeable character. In the background of her story are Alec and Richard St. Vier, the main characters of Swordspoint; hearing hints of their story percolate up is both teasing and satisfying. The very end is a little too pat for my tastes, but overall I loved this book almost as much as its prequel.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Ashley (new) - added it

Ashley I bought this book two years ago at a book sale, and then carelessly gave it away during a big move last year. Your wonderful review makes me regret not reading the book when it was right under my nose! I'll be seeking it out for sure, now.


Wealhtheow I absolutely loved the book that comes before this, (Swordspoint, which I highly recommend), so I started this book with high expectations--and astoundingly, the book delivered. Find it again if you can!


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