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The Reluctant Swordsman

(The Seventh Sword #1)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  4,029 ratings  ·  185 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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 ·  4,029 ratings  ·  185 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 (o
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 additi
Fantasy set in medieval place called “the world” where a huge river flows from city to city, shifting course as the goddess chooses. Sorcerers who worship the Fire demigod come down from the mountains, employing magic and literacy against swordsmen of the River goddess. Even though the young star Nnanji has red hair and freckles, and wears a kilt, there is an Eastern / Asian flavor to the setting and characters, as conveyed via the terms of address, the caste system (ranked from 1-7, with namele ...more
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 st
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 he' ...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 gener
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. ...more

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 Yan
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
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. ...more

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...
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, su ...more
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 a ...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 dei
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
Feb 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Good story, tho I found Wally very annoying! The book did end well.
Kasey Camfield
Oct 29, 2020 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 17, 2020 rated it did not like it
This book was written in 1988 and it shows. Not in a fun quirky way, but a "Yikes you can't say that anymore grandpa" way. It was cool that it was a western Isekai I guess, but it was also a hot pile of problematic garbage.

I did not enjoy this book's treatment of its female characters. It felt too much like male sexual fantasy fulfillment. "Oh nooooooo, I don't believe in objectifying woman and respect them, but now I'm in a super hot super horny body and I guess I haaaaaave to have
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 t
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. ...more
Sep 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review located HERE . ...more
Nov 27, 2014 rated it liked it
The first book in this series is really enjoyable. Just don't read books 2 or 3. ...more
Baron Rothschild
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book
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 en
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
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
I really loved these books - they worked on so many levels.

Here is a fantasy that does not fit into the stereotypical faux medieval fold. Instead, Duncan creates a convincing alternate universe that is filled with a geography, flora and fauna that are convincingly "other". He creates a whole culture within this world that is not just ripped off from european or japanese cultures, as so many writers do. Instead he invents a world that works on its own merits, and has a culture that makes you want
Ramsey Meadows
Aug 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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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 Sa

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)

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