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The Book of Swords

(Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz #7 - A Long, Cold Trail)

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  1,595 ratings  ·  285 reviews
Fantasy fiction has produced some of the most unforgettable heroes ever conjured onto the page: Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian, Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné, Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Classic characters like these made sword and sorcery a storytelling sensation, a cornerstone of fantasy fiction — and an inspiration for a new generation of ...more
Hardcover, 522 pages
Published October 10th 2017 by Bantam Books
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Shane Moore If you wouldn't allow your child to read "Game of Thrones", then you should not allow them to read this book.

Much of the writing would be challenging …more
If you wouldn't allow your child to read "Game of Thrones", then you should not allow them to read this book.

Much of the writing would be challenging for a typical child of that age. There isn't any explicit sex, but there are mentions of it including sexual violence. Some horrific sexual violence, such as the sexual assault of young children, is mentioned. The level of violence is consistently high and includes some torture described in detail.(less)

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Sean Barrs
Sep 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fantasy is pervaded by legendary weapons, by weapons of awesome power and history: the kind that belonged to kings, queens and heroes. However, fantasy is also full of ordinary swords, swords that belonged to the common man defending his family, ceremonial swords that have caught the eye of infamous thiefs and swords that are worn and dull having spent years in service to a solider in numerous battles.

What the writers here do is take the idea of the sword and play with it, showing its significa
Oct 23, 2017 rated it liked it
The Book of Swords is a compilation of short stories. I list my reviews in the order I read them, not the order they appear in the book. These aren't reviews for all the short stories, but rather the ones I found interesting.

The Sons of the Dragon by George R.R. Martin

Aegon the Conqueror had two sisters who were also his wives. With each of his wives he had one son. His oldest son and heir Aenys was born to Rhaenys. His youngest son Maegor was born to Visenya. The Sons of the Dragon tell the
Jan 20, 2019 marked it as to-read
The anthology has strengths and weaknesses, but many readers will pick it up just for a new George R.R. Martin short story tied to the Song of Ice and Fire series.


xi - Introduction - Gardner Dozois
003 - “The Best Man Wins” by K. J. Parker
033 - “His Father’s Sword” by Robin Hobb
061 - “The Hidden Girl” by Ken Liu
089 - “The Sword of Destiny” by Matthew Hughes
121 - “‘I Am a Handsome Man,’ Said Apollo Crow” by Kate Elliott
153 - “The Triumph of Virtue” by Walter Jon Williams
185 - “The Mockin
Overall, a total rating of 3.4. Unfortunately at least half of the stories are total fillers, but I'm glad I also found some really really good works here. Below, each story with its own rating and a few words about it.

The Best Man Wins by K.J. Parker - 4/5★
Parker’s witty, direct and ironical style strikes a chord in me, no matter what the story is about. This time, it is about a blacksmith, his past and his talents. Strangely, the detailed process of making a sword didn’t bother me at all, nor
Clay Kallam
Oct 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf-fantasy
“The Book of Swords” (Bantam, $30, 521 pages) is yet another Gardner Dozois compilation, and this one focuses on what he refers to as “sword and sorcery.” For the most part, this means pre-industrial fantasy with magic, and a certain mythic undercurrent that gives the stories a little more heft.

As always with such compendiums, there are winners and losers, and the most surprising loser is the George R.R. Martin story “The Sons of the Dragon” that concludes the volume. Martin seems like he had a
Mar 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Not a collection of sword and sorcery stories as one might believe, but rather stories literally about swords or featuring a sword in one fashion or another.

Some of the highlights here for me include:

The Best Man Wins by K. J. Parker (3.5) - A veteran sword maker offers a young man lessons in the finer points of sword making and sword fighting. Not all that much actually happens, and I could see the ending coming from a mile away, but the writing is excellent, crisp and resonant, painting a grim
Anthologies are tricky, they say. For me, it's a gamble that over the years I found myself more on the losing side. This particular anthology, despite having many well-known authors, just cemented that conviction. I really should stop buying this time-wasting stuff, and focus more on story collection by a single (familiar) author instead.

In terms of enjoyment, I absolutely loved GRMM's story (which I read last year and briefly reviewed below) as well as Scott Lynch's The Smoke of Gold is Glory (
Okay... I started leaving comments after every story I read, but quickly abandoned this idea. As with any anthology you get some good and some bad apples in the same basket.

To keep it brief, I think it is worth buying this book just for these incredible five stories:

The Best Man Wins by K.J. Parker: 5/5+
Quintessential KJ Parker. If you are not familiar with his writing (quick interjection: why not?!) - this is a perfect place to start. Intricate story, attention to detail, immersive despite it
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
Overall a good anthology of stories about Sword and sorcery. There are some big names in here. Robin Hobb, Scott Lynch, K.J Parker, GRRM and plenty more.
Some stories are better than others as one would expect from this sort of book. I’m not going to rate each one individually or review each one. Ultimately an anthology is put together for a reason, everyone is going to have a different opinion on each story.
And some of them I didn’t feel strongly about either way.

Obviously I really enjoyed Ro
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First point: Despite what Gardner Dozois says in the introduction, I don't think I'd necessarily regard this as a collection of sword & sorcery stories in the same way as Paula Guran's recent Swords Against Darkness, or even Jonathan Strahan & Lou Anders' Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery. I'd consider it more of a spiritual successor to Robert Silverberg's Legends anthology, or, I'm guessing, some of the other Dozois anthologies (Warriors, Rogues, Dangerous Women, etc.) that I admi ...more
Jun 06, 2018 rated it liked it
• The Best Man Wins - K.J. Parker: 3*
Mmm, not bad, but the story was predictable, and after a while I was kinda of bored.

• Her Father's Sword - Robin Hobb: 4*
A good story in the Farseer Universe depicting with more care the drama of the peasants when their relatives are taken and forged into trully hateful creatures.

• The Hidden Girl - Ken Liu
I`m not a sucker for the Chinese mythology so I wasn`t very interested in this peculiar story.

• The Sword of Destiny - Matthew Hughes: 5*
Yeah, this defini
I'm not much of a short story person, but I keep being drawn to picking up these Gardner Dozois anthologies. After having mixed results with some of his others, this one may be my favorite. It's likely due to theme. I love sword stories.

Most of these are fantasy stories, but not all of them. I liked the vast majority of them, and only really disliked one of them. My favorites of the bunch are The Mocking Tower by Daniel Abraham and Hrunting by C.J. Cherryh.

I enjoyed the Scott Lynch st
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Man, I had forgotten how much I love to read anthologies. I recently read The Doll Collection, and I loved it! I'm getting back into them and I'll be reading this one now. I'll try to post a short review of each story as I go, because sometimes it's hard to keep track.

- The Best Man Wins by K.J. Parker - This was really, really good. Very well written and with fascinating characters. 4.5 stars.

- Her Father’s Sword by Robin Hobb - Super creepy and the ending was way out there. 3.5 stars.

- The Hid
I listened to this & the narrators are all quite good. The stories were far better than I expected after reading several SF anthologies that Dozois edited. He seems to like long SF stories, but I found these of good length. Some were longish, but few bogged down. It started out really well, but then petered out for me.

Table of Contents
Introduction Gardner Dozois
tells of how he got interested in reading fantasy. Well done. He also does a thumbnail sketch of each author before each story. They're
Indifference is the best term to describe my reaction to this anthology, specifically to the short story "Sons of the Dragon" by George R. R. Martin that was my motivation to read this.

But why? To put it as succinctly as possible: a. because it's a mediocre story, poorly edited and uninteresting; b. because it's neither new nor surprising, Martin already had read this short story at conventions before and fans who keep an eye on his comings and goings already knew of its contents; c. because it'
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
"The Book of Swords" was quite good. It is a collection of short stories set in a fantasy setting. Ostensibly. Thus, as with any collection, the strength of the book relies on the stories chosen. For the most part, they are quite good. A broad selection of fairly well-known modern authors provides a good sample of the genre.

The stories that really stood out, for me, and di a great job were:
The Best Man Wins- a great tale about what it really means to be the "best".
Her Father's Sword- a girl desi
Hani  Fitriani
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
All I can say is Targaryen is a highly disfunctional family.
Greg (adds 2 TBR list daily) Hersom
Book of Sword is awesome, even more so for Sword & Sorcery or Heroic fantasy fans. In fact are any of the anthology books that Dozois and Martin have done together not awesome? I loved all the stories except one, but don't let that one rotten apple spoil the whole barrel because these apples are fit for the gods. I'm sincerely hard pressed to name a favorite of the bunch. Book of Swords is a shout-out to the masters; Howard, Lieber, and Moorcock and David Gemmell –he needs to be recognized too- ...more
Stephen Robert Collins
16 tales of Fantasy 1st Matthew Hughes, 2nd Elizabeth Bear,3rd K.J.Paker.
Feb 08, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a struggle to give three stars. Hughes and Cherryh I felt were the best in the entire book.
Florin Constantinescu
I'm probably among the very few people on this planet who did NOT buy this anthology just for the Song of Ice and Fire story. Having no high hopes for any of the authors is always a good way to start off an anthology.
For this year, Gardner Dozois decided to come up a sword and sorcery book made up exclusively of novelettes. The similar length of all stories here is also the reason why this was the first time I read all the stories in the order they are printed. Which was retrospectively a good i
Lashaan Balasingam (Bookidote)
You can find my review on my blog by clicking here.

I’ve always thought that short stories were so much more harder for authors to nail. To be able to compress a whole narrative within 30 to 100 pages seemed like a task only a God could manage. Only a few authors are able to find an idea, foreshadow it and deliver a stunning ending that will make you realize just how clever those last couple of pages were. In fact, being able to deliver a clever narrative is what I also look for in all my stories
Nov 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Solid but unspectacular collections of "sword" stories. Most of the stories were okay with a few notables from Cherryh (my favorite), Nix, Larson, Bear and Tidhar. The only stinker in the bunch was from Martin, seems nowadays even his short stories are bloated.

Save your money and borrow it from the library.

I'll probably get around to reading some of the other stories in this book, but I bought it for the GRRM story, which he read at a con a few years ago. Its not even a new story. I paid full ebook price, and my only excuse is I'm ASOIAF addict. SHAME.
Dec 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Twihard-level George R.R. Martin fans
"And the work, of course, the sword itself, would still be alive in a thousand years’ time, venerated and revered, with my name on the hilt. The best ever made; and if I didn’t do it, someone else would, and it wouldn’t be my name on it."

The stories that made up the contents of this anthology were excellent, including an indulgent range of contemporary fantasy authors, some really tantalising series-expansion stories along with some really high quality originals (although these were overall in t
Stephen Richter
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent collection of short stories containing most of Fantasies heavy hitters.
Michelle Morrell
A big thick book full of sword and sorcery goodness. There are some familiar faces, some I knew by reputation only, and a host of new friends to make.
This is a really good anthology. All of the stories were enjoyable to me, some more than others, but still. . . All were good. :-)

My favorites though? My favorite stories are arguably the following two:

Story #1: "The Best Man Wins" by K.J. Parker
Even though I saw the ending coming from almost the first moment, I really loved how we reached that ending. I don't think we were ever told the narrator's name, but he was a pretty wonderful character. I really enjoyed the story as he told it. :-)

And. .
John Devlin
Dec 26, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm in simpatico with Dozois' preface more than his selections. Chronicling his early quest for Fafhred and the Grey Mouser is something I understood well. Though I was lucky, by the time the 80's came around all the Lankhmar, Elric, and Conan had been collected into nice chronological packages.

The stories here are fine - a bit too unserious for my taste. Though the tale of the Death Kiss is top notch.

Martin's entry is more a Wikipedia expansion of ancient GOT lore than much of a narrative, and
Alex Andrasik
I received an advance copy of the book via NetGalley. Thanks, NetGalley! Yeah, just dipping into this collection for now to read the George R.R. Martin novella, "The Sons of the Dragon;" the following review refers only to that piece.

Martin continues his teases of Westeros history, written as in-world accounts of some of the key events in the turbulent reign of the Targaryens. This entry covers the years of Aegon the Conqueror's successors: intellectual, beloved, yet indecisive Aenys and his hal
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Gardner Raymond Dozois was an American science fiction author and editor. He was editor of Asimov's Science Fiction magazine from 1984 to 2004. He won multiple Hugo and Nebula awards, both as an editor and a writer of short fiction.
Wikipedia entry: Gardner Dozois

Other books in the series

Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz (1 - 10 of 13 books)
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Karen M. McManus, the bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying, Two Can Keep a Secret, and One of Us Is Next, doesn’t shy away from secrets and...
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“To disdain the moral pronouncements of hypocrites; to be true to my word; to always do what I promise, no more and no less. To hone my talent and wield it like a beacon in a darkening world.” 1 likes
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