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The Reluctant Swordsman

(The Seventh Sword #1)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  3,848 ratings  ·  171 reviews
Wallie figured it was fever when he awoke, not in his hospital, but in the body of a brawny barbarian. A swordsman of the seventh rank, Wallie was now the master of a beautiful slave girl and a cunning blade. His mission: to serve a Goddess--even though he had never fought before! Original.
Paperback, 326 pages
Published April 12th 1988 by Del Rey Books (first published 1988)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  3,848 ratings  ·  171 reviews

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Mike (the Paladin)
Sep 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Yes, I'm giving this the rare 5 star rating. I'm a bit surprised I decided to go that high...but it's a good read. No deep emotional depths here, no great philosophical insights just a good adventurous read.

Wally is dying, well actually he seems to be dead. But instead of heading off to the after life he gets a bit...side tracked. See Wally is inside the body of a large, skilled swordsman in a completely different world.

Not a new plot device. As a matter of actual fact if you're a fantasy fan
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Mar 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013

Portal fantasy appears to be quite popular for the 1980's. The ones I'm familiar with (debuts or ongoing series) include : The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny (1985 for the second series), Thomas Covenant by Stephen Donaldson (starts in 1977 but continue), Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay (1984), Videssos by Haryy Turtledove (1987). I'm adding now my first Dave Duncan from 1988, and I must say I'm impressed by the narrative drive and by the nuanced characterization of this latest
Sep 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.75 stars. I was drawn by the positive reviews, even though I usually avoid anything resembling time travel or world portals. But this author handled it beautifully, with nuance and gradual revelation. No big info dumps. No jittery scene hopping.
Intelligent plot, likable but textured characters, interesting world, some philosophy, with humor, science, swords, sorcery, gods, faith, friendship, and some romance.
This book is good, but a bit slow. The next one is even better.
Excellent narration!
Leon Aldrich
Wallie Smith can feel the pain. He goes to the hospital, remembers the doctors and the commotion, but when he wakes up it all seems like a dream. However, if that was a dream how do you explain waking up in another body and in another world? Little Wallie finds himself in the physique of a barbarian swordsman, accompanied by both an eccentric priest babbling about the Goddess and a voluptuous slave girl. Is this a rude awakening or a dream come true? What in the world will Wallie do now that ...more
Mar 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Sbuchler by: Sabrina
Genre: High Fantasy

A very fast-paced tale of a modern fellow (Wallie Smith) who's brain/mind/soul is transplanted into a sword-swinging hero's body due to a meddlesome Goddess. The world he's cast into is lush, succeeding in being both foriegn and envoking the "Age of Legends" - a bronze age culture from before writing is discovered/invented.

There are some wonderful bits both of his trying to grapple with the idea that gods are real and miracules exist and realizing that many emotions are
Aug 13, 2014 rated it liked it
I read this book about a year ago, and I enjoyed it, but not enough to want read the rest of the books in this series. I think it may be one of those novels that I will have to give another try, or at the very least try another one of Duncan's series.
Jul 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Few authors in the fantasy genre are capable of coming up with as many unique magic concepts as Dave Duncan and his very best work is the Seventh Sword Trilogy. Book 1 is The Reluctant Swordsman and I remain as blown away today as I was when I first read it 10 years ago.

The Reluctant Swordsman is, at its heart, a tale of faith, miracles, and duty. It is much deeper than most fantasy novels yet Duncan keeps his tale crisp and avoids getting too metaphysical or theological. Although much of the

I tried it and I have a problem with the god interfering in the life of people too much...something just annoys me with the way this book is written but I got to about 7%, so maybe I'm not giving it enough chance...sometimes it's not the book's fault, I'm just not in the mood;)...anyway, I will probably wait until some of my GR friends read this book and I read their reviews...otherwise it's at the bottom of the list of the books I want to give another chance...
Nov 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This one starts a bit slow, and I remember at one point, when I realized what the goal of the action was, I was like, really? We're going to spend the whole book doing *that*? But I think he uses this slow action successfully to pack in a lot of information about the world, which our hero is discovering along with us, the readers. Stick with it, there is a definite pay off at the end of all three books, with lots of swashbuckling action and interesting characters to enjoy along the way.

3 stars

Wallie Smith has died. Much to the surprise of all concerned, however, he's turned up in the body of Shunso, Seventh-level swordsman in a world of temples, slaves, and duels. Wallie tries to do good, but then a god steps in, and Wallie has to re-evaluate his choices.

I'm not generally a fan of sidewise type - where an ordinary guy suddenly finds himself in another time or dimension. There have been good ones - Narnia, "Sidewise in Time", Barsoom, "A Connecticut
May 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review written for the last book in the series:
This is the third and final book in the Seventh Sword trilogy. I read the entire trilogy over the past couple of weeks and I take that as proof that it had gripping power and was well enough written to keep me hooked until I had finished all the books. While trying not to spoil anything, the story is about a swordsman who is given a task in the form of a riddle and who then ventures to explore the world and finds love, power and sadness on the way.

Sean Randall
Jan 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
As I consumed the opening pages of this fine story, my miserable excuse for a brain could not but help attempt linking this work to The Reluctant Sorcerer by Simon Hawke. Hawke also wrote a trilogy featuring someone from our world forced to adapt in an alternate, medieval one; and its no coincidence that both this trilogy and that have an opening novel with the word reluctant in the title. You must forgive the parallel - I was rather heavily entoxicated at the time. 'tis the little things that ...more
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Got this as part of the complete set, but am reviewing it separately because each book deserves its own rating. This first one in the series in the best of the bunch. The writing is good, the characters believable, and the plot interesting. Not high art, but a very, very good read. The plot is reminiscent of Conan the Barbarian, but with a twist of "Quantum Leap" (that old TV series where a guy ends up in other bodies) thrown in. Wallie Smith, a 20th century manager at a pharmaceutical plant, ...more
Feb 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Good story, tho I found Wally very annoying! The book did end well.
Aug 03, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humble-bundle
I spent so much time wishing the story would get on with itself that I really couldn't enjoy it that much. I had problems with the master/slave sex relationships that seemed like they were supposed to be loving and/or funny but which were still master/slave relationships. The main character even called it rape, and then went ahead and did it anyway simply because he was told he couldn't free his slave. The fact is, she's still his slave. And then his protege buys a sex slave, and his antics with ...more
Doc Opp
Nov 19, 2011 rated it liked it
I find myself with little to say about this book. It was perfectly adequate, and I didn't feel I was wasting my time by reading it. But it didn't move me, make me think all that much, or otherwise strike me as all that memorable.

The series spends a lot of time on the topic of faith - particularly willingness to blindly place one's deity's will before his/her own. Throughout the book, the protagonist routinely was asked to do things that violated his own ethical/moral code at the bequest of a
Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
Almost done with this and while I like Wallie's story, I can't help but be distracted by the way women are portrayed. If an author can't write women in a unique and non-offensive way, then it is really better to just leave them out, IMO. I fully understand that the book is purposefully set in a place quite different from this world, and with a different culture. But there doesn't seem to be any redeeming purpose to the way the women are portrayed, and there is the implicit difference in how men ...more
I enjoyed this one very much,it was kind of a change of pace for me as I've been reading mainly drama/action books, and this one made me a laugh a little.

This book follows a guy who has died in our world and get transported into the body of the greatest swordsman in an alternate world where your skill with a sword determines your rank in society. The good swordsmen take what they want without any repercussions or remorse. Now comes Wallie from a different world with different ideals and morals.
Apr 08, 2010 rated it it was ok
Felt like a Robert E. Howard (Conan) take on the "modern American transplanted to fantasy world" theme. Had some potential but in the end everything is motivated by deus ex machinas. It almost felt like a Christian polemic with the constant refrain of "God(dess) moves in mysterious ways" and "have faith". What started out as an interesting moral struggle about the contrast between the two worlds simply gets thrown away when the protagonist gets tortured enough.

Not keen enough to bother reading
Feb 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Another good series from Duncan. Sometimes I find it hard to get started on his books. He takes awhile to set the scene, and numerous characters are usually involved. But once I'm in, it's always a good time. This series has a man from Earth finding himself transferred into the body of a Swordsman from another world and expected to complete a quest for that world's Goddess.
Nov 27, 2014 rated it liked it
The first book in this series is really enjoyable. Just don't read books 2 or 3.
Sep 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review located HERE .
Camille Siddartha
Dec 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
absolutely love this book...about wallie who is shonsu and is put to the test to test his value and brain in a time where there was
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Seventh Sword series went on sale on Amazon a while ago, and so I picked it up. (Four books for $3 total? Why would I pass that chance up?) It was well-reviewed on Goodreads, though almost none of my friends had read it, but I grew up reading 80s fantasy, and this was an author I'd missed. Still, high fantasy can be a real time commitment, and so I kept passing the series by, waiting for a better time.

At last, I started the book on Sunday. I finished it on Tuesday, which is really all the
Ashley Lambert-Maberly
Weird book. I was very enthusiastic about his Man of his Word series (and am enjoying, not quite as much, its follow-up), so I thought I'd try this other work. The first book is very strange. Almost nothing happens, and it takes a while to have this not-a-lot happen. It's like watching a movie where midway through you realise you've seen as much of the set as you ever will, because they simply don't have the budget to tell a larger story ... except this is a book, so his budget is unlimited, so ...more
Ramsey Meadows
Aug 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book is great, I am on a portal fantasy kick. There are a lot of portal fantasy tropes that the author either makes tolerable with his own flair or completely avoids. I didn't like the main character at first, he was the very definition of stupidity and arrogance. Americans seem to have a pathological need to loudly condemn and be obnoxious about the moral failing of people completely ignoring the time and place. It is ironic to see in the age of social media decades later from the ...more
Julie Thomas
Sep 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Meh. HE's a good writer and the story flows along a at good rate but when I think of the problems that the protagonist encounters they are not very suspenseful for the reader because this world has so many rules and we do not know them until they come up. So there will be a problem (and often it seems a strange problem to us, like who cares if he does or says this or that?) but the reader is really just strapped in along for the ride rather than interacting with the story because the solutions ...more
Dan Lewis
Apr 27, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is well written medieval fantasy, but problematic. It's the familiar tale of a civilian transported to another world, and given a quest by the gods. Much of the interest comes from taking the mundane perspective on the magical world and society.

Here, mild mannered Wallie is sent to a caste society where life is nasty, brutish, and short. But he experiences that society from a position of power and privilege, a master swordsman in a sculpted body. He is reluctant to play into his given
Logan Horsford
May 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a review for all three - I've not yet read the later 4th book in the series.

No spoilers - I want you to enjoy these books.

I was delighted that these came out on audio - and by a competent narrator.

Warning - there is plenty of nostalgia in my review. I first read these (remember old fashioned paper books?) back in the '80's.

I like the MC plenty. He is competent and kind within his areas of expertise but is then put into a completely new situation.

He has a lot of different problems to
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Originally from Scotland, Dave Duncan lived all his adult life in Western Canada, having enjoyed a long career as a petroleum geologist before taking up writing. Since discovering that imaginary worlds were more satisfying than the real one, he published more than 60 novels, mostly in the fantasy genre, but also young adult, science fiction, and historical.

He wrote at times under the pseudonym

Other books in the series

The Seventh Sword (4 books)
  • The Coming of Wisdom (The Seventh Sword, #2)
  • The Destiny of the Sword (The Seventh Sword, #3)
  • The Death of Nnanji (The Seventh Sword, #4)
“A sheep in wolf’s clothing should not bleat within the pack.” 2 likes
“No reason. Because it’s always been done that way. That’s the standard explanation for anything.” 1 likes
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