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Banner of the Damned

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  680 ratings  ·  111 reviews
Princess Lasva is about to be named heir to her childless sister, the queen. But, when the queen finally bears an heir, Lasva's future is shattered. Grief-stricken, she leaves her country of Colend and falls into the arms of Prince Ivandred of Marloven Hesea. His people are utterly different-with their expertise in riding, weaponry, and magic- and the two soon marry.
Hardcover, 695 pages
Published April 3rd 2012 by DAW
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Average rating 3.65  · 
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Sherwood Smith
Apr 03, 2012 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: my-books
This one stands alone, between the Inda storyline and the modern one.

Things that came and went in my head while I was writing it: the usual stuff I seem to engage with (different permutations of love, the cost of power, survival mentality and its pitfalls, magic and adventure) but also narratives and reliability and unreliability. The layers of narrative in records.

As always, whether any of it communicates or entertains is up to the reader!
Nenia ⚡ Aspiring Evil Overlord ⚡ Campbell

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I'm really annoyed at this book. Not because it was terrible, or even because it was bad - no, I'm angry because it could have been AMAZING and instead it was merely okay. Part of that lies with the incredibly misleading summary, which would have you believe that this is a fantasy romance story, possibly with elements of F/F. Instead, what romance there is in here is severely underplayed, with the focus being on politics and court
Apr 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, adult, transcends
Sherwood Smith writes these ridiculous books where she uses about fifty hundred different perspectives, elaborates on plots threads and characters that for hundreds of pages seem entirely irrelevant, and throws in dozens of unnecessary mini-lectures on history and linguistics - and it works. SO WELL.

I don't know any other author who can do what she does. She grips me even when I already know the end. In Banner of the Damned, I saw doom approaching for three hundred pages (out of a 700 page book)
Apr 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Starts out with an seductively quotable opening statement, which I won't quote. Instead, I will say that the author seems to have written an *entire book* to address a single offhand complaint I made in a one-paragraph review of _Inda_ in 2006. (To wit: "...the narration has potholes; it's mostly tight-third-person, but sometimes jumps heads or goes omniscient to make some point.")

I know this is not possible. Instead, the author must have set up a stylistic rifle on the mantel in a 2006 book,
After years of rigid self-control and endless training, Emras is chosen as Royal Scribe to the Princess Lasva. Lasva is beautiful and kind, the younger sister of Colend's queen and the presumed heir to its throne. The Colendi court is full of poetry, music, flirtations and dance. Generations ago Colend signed the Compact, which swore the country to have no weapons. In the Colendi court, hierarchy is determined through wit and beauty, not martial superiority. But when Lasva's sister finally bears ...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
Banner of the Damned is a BIG book: almost 700 pages in hardcover, and with a lot of words squeezed onto every page. So it gets a big review.

PLOT: This is essentially two books in one, both centering around a scribe named Emras and her employer, Princess Lasva, in a quasi-medieval world. The first half is set in their peaceful home country of Colend, and deals with court intrigues, Lasva’s love life, and Emras’s growth from teenage scribe student to the most trusted member of Lasva’s staff. The
Erin DeLaney
Jul 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I've been a fan of Sherwood Smith for many years, and have been looking forward to this book particularly, ever since reading the "Summer Thunder" excerpt. My expectations were met and exceeded!

For context, this book is definitely in a different category than her Young Adult books (Crown Duel, Posse, Wren, etc), mainly in my opinion due to complexity. It falls more along the lines of the Inda series, and would be a great follow up to that story. (While it is not a direct continuation of Inda,
Jun 17, 2012 rated it liked it
I feel a bit at a loss, reviewing Sherwood Smith books anymore. I love her Wren books, and the Crown Duel set, but pretty much everything after that has been a let down. When the Inda books came out, I was excited for an adult series and while I finished the first book, I just didn't love it enough to keep going. Picking up Banner of the Damned was an act of faith for me. Since it's a standalone (although long enough for two books) I felt safe enough and while I did read it and it wasn't too ...more
Francesca Forrest
Apr 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
(n.b.: I read partial drafts of the novel, so I'm not an unbiased reviewer)

Banner of the Damned is a cunning novel that leads you to believe it’s doing one thing (and indeed, it is ) and then another (which it is too), and then, suddenly, you turn around, and you realize it’s also doing a third thing. At that point you’re reeling from Sherwood Smith’s storytelling skills.

So what is the third thing? Let me answer a question with a question: Have you ever wondered about the motivations of an evil
May 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
Let me say right off the bat that I adore Sherwood Smith, and I adored the Inda series. (And if you haven't read the Inda series, there is absolutely no reason for you to pick up this book, because the most compelling elements of it depend on you knowing the history of Sartorias-Deles.)

But (and you knew there was a "but"), this book just didn't work for me. A large part of that was because of the way the story was framed. The story is told from the perspective of a first-person narrator - the
Debbie Gascoyne
Dec 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013, fantasy
mm mm good. Long, engrossing, "epic" in scope without the cliches of epic fantasy. I loved the pov character, loved the slightly tricky narrative frame. I confess I guessed the "reveal" long before Emris did, but I think knowing or suspecting more than the narrator is deliberate. I liked that the author limited the characters she focussed on - I found the wide range of viewpoint characters in her Inda series confusing at times, and enjoyed settling in to watch the relationships between a small ...more
Jul 23, 2013 added it
Shelves: own
An intricate court intrigue in a highly developed world - this book is a delightful, leisurely read that builds carefully and delivers a poignant, powerful finish. Spans the gamut between a civilized court and a culture of manners and progresses to a second setting that is austere and centered on warfare, which created a tension of contrasts with lots of depth.
Rebecca McNutt
Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Banner of the Damned has so many great elements. The narrator, Emras, is asexual, which makes her easy to relate to and makes this novel stand out as very original, plus it doesn't have so much of the graphic sex and violence that modern fantasy is becoming (in)famous for in many cases. Each character is very complex, and nothing is sugar-coated, but they still stand up for each other despite their differences.
Mar 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
enjoyed this a lot
haven't quite collected my feelings about it yet
read this in chunks over the course of the last couple of weeks and it has been hefty! and engrossing (was determined to finish it today so I, like Emras, feel a bit like I've emerged from my lair unclear about the hour of the day or the day of the month)

some scattered thoughts:
-the framing device of Emras on trial is really effective, and when it was introduced I was like yessss! good (and the handling of multiple POVs,
Mar 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I feel like it's impossible for me to review BANNER OF THE DAMNED objectively; Sartorias-deles is one of those worlds that I've sunk so completely into, I'm finding it difficult to distinguish the novel from an actual scribe's record in Eidervaen. But I will try. I've read iterations of BANNER before, both in the short story Summer Thunder before Emras's perspective was pulled out, and heard the author do a reading of it at conference.

There is so much I want to say. More than anything, this
Dec 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, inda
I think what pleased me the most about this book was how much Inda was in it. I knew it took place several hundred years after Inda's epic saga so I was expecting a completely separate tale. And, at first, it seemed like that's what we had. Our story begins in Colend and we learn the court rules and politics of a culture only briefly learned about in the Inda stories. (Tau's knowledge of Colendi plays is what I remember the most.) I love Sherwood Smith for how deep the rabbit hole goes. When she ...more
Wow, that was not unenjoyable, but my word nothing really happened. That was a 800 page book that was really dependant on a previous four books, and setting up for another four.

I liked a lot of the people! Ace main character! Fun world! And five hundred pages devoted to a few months of fashion followed by three hundred pages for ten years of magic work described in metaphor. *puts chin on fist, considers book*
katayoun Masoodi
Aug 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook, fantasy
maybe sometimes, 3 1/5 if i hadn't read any of smith's other books, but i love this world and a story about this world is a happy event and usually atleast 4 for just existing!
Dec 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
so i thought, i need to read something quick and easy, and next thing i knew, i was reading banner of the damned, all glorious 695 pages of it. ooooooops.
it's a very distant (400 years in the future) sequel to inda (that's why i was wary of reading it before, and in some ways i was right, because apparently it took marlovens less than five generations to completely fuck up everything inda and evred and hadand and co sweated and suffered for. i rooted for you, marlovens, we all rooted for you!
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Heartbreakingly different from the other books in Inda universe. Emras blindness as well as blindness of those around her is so sad and inevitable. The cloud of dread follows every plot twist until the reveal comes like lightning: ruthless and inescapable.

Despite liking the book, I would've preferred not to read it: the ending is rather hopeless to me, and I don't like feeling hopeless after a good book.
Aug 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Banner of the Damned is a perfect example of why Sherwood Smith is a genius. The world of Sartorias-deles that she has created is rich in history and detail. This book ties together so many threads from her previous stories (Inda, Crown Duel, Senrid, A Stranger to Command) that you can't help but be amazed by her skill as a world-builder and storyteller.

Banner of the Damned covered so much ground, that it felt like I was reading a whole series, rather than one book. The main character Emras
Apr 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh my. What a book - this was the best read I've had for quite a while, it really is the definition of an epic fantasy - stretching out over time, featuring many nations, vastly different cultures, and dozens of vividly drawn characters. Reading it was like swimming in a vast bubblebath, all embracing, deeply relaxing and every time I dipped into it I would forget all about my daily concerns. Although, the bubblebath comparison makes it sound amorphous and this is a very thoughtfully constructed ...more
Dec 31, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf-fantasy
A young scribe follows her beloved princess, who is swept away by a barbarian prince, takes up the study of magic and discovers a plot is far more complex, and that goes back far longer, than she imagines. This is a fine example of a book that would have been much better if 300-400 pages shorter. The author is good at action scenes but:
A) She devotes huge wads of the story to developing the culture of gesture and subtlety in which the princess is raised, but next to, say, Daniel Abraham's
Jan 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Nanci B.
Shelves: adult, fantasy
Emras tells her lengthy story in the form of a defense, but we don't understand the circumstances under which she should need to write a defense until close to the end of this nearly 700 page fantasy masterpiece. Her scribe skills and manner of deportment are such that she is made Royal Scribe to the princess Lasvas at only 16; this coveted position, however, carries with it a dismaying complexity that requires Emras to be extremely careful and discreet. Then, when the queen finally has a child, ...more
May 11, 2012 rated it liked it
So I liked the style of this book. An Asian-feeling fantasy setting with intricate social customs and politics, viewed through the eyes of a rather naive scribe who has access to the highest nobility. I think I didn't like it better than I did because I was just missing context. I think this book is set about 400 years after the author's previous series, something I didn't know when I picked up the book. I felt the lack of that background, especially once I left the first section of the book. ...more
Anne Osterlund
Oct 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Emras is taught to be a scribe. To hide in the background and observe, not just the words people say but the emotions and truths behind them.

When she is assigned to stand alongside Lasva of Collend as the princess’s personal scribe, Emras can imagine no higher honor. But this will change. With the birth of an heir that will change both Emras’s world and Lasva’s. With a romantically driven assault that will invite a warrior into a kingdom renowned for peace. And with a new task.

A task that will
Erik Anderson
Banner of the Damned consists of three distinct and rather disjoint parts. The first 700 pages follow a meandering personal history of the main characters, detailing the intricacies of daily castle life and spanning a roughly 10 year period. The world building is impressive, encompassing the finer points of two highly disparate cultures. This sedate introduction is abruptly interrupted by the oh shit moment, when the characters discover that nothing is as it seems and the fate of the kingdom ...more
Caity Ross
Sep 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
It has been a long time since I have been so completely submerged in a fantasy world. After finishing, I spent the rest of the day in a post-book haze... Brilliantly done, Ms. Smith.
Francesco Lanza
Jun 24, 2018 rated it liked it
I believe Banner of the Damned to be a really frustrating read. I'm a great fan of Sherwood Smith's Inda series - and of the concept of her fictive world Sartorias-Deles. The artificially-reduced violence (that is probably just as artificially heightened at times, and this is no authorial magic wand, it's part of the plot), the high magic mostly useful as a form of service and health-related tech, the countries slowly evolving and the morally neutral stance on warrior cultures vs. socially ...more
Like the Inda books, which take place in the same world many years earlier, Banner of the Damned has a wonderfully rich world, and Smith manages to convey the richness of it without overwhelming the reader with details and infodumps. There's a really interesting framing device -- the story is told by a scribe, Emras, who tells us immediately that she's on trial, and we only slowly find out why. There's a large cast of well-developed characters, all with their own personalities and motivations ...more
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/r/Fantasy Discus...: Banner of the Damned 1 5 Feb 22, 2019 04:25AM  

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