For a game, the gods have given the world 12 Swords of Power so that they might be amused as the nations battle for their possession. But Vulcan the Smith has had his own little joke: the Swords can kill the gods themselves. What started out as Divine Jest has become all too serious as the gods fight to recover the Swords, and mortals discover that the mantle of power is more delicious and more terrible than anything they could have imagined.
©1983 Fred Saberhagen (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
I first read the original Swords books as a teenager many years ago. I have fond memories of them, particularly the way Saberhagen blends typical fantasy tropes with a science-fiction backstory. I was somewhat reluctant to download these titles, as so many of the books I read in my teens now seem flat and one-dimensional. Not these. The Swords books still feel fresh and new. Not all of the characters are fully developed, but the dialog is crisp, and the pacing is sure. On top of everything else the author's worldbuilding is superb, taking what could be just a run of the mill role-playing game premise and making it come alive and left me wanting more.
This is huge, Audible listener. EXTREMELY huge.
I've not used the word HUGE out of context whatsoever, and I consider this particular Audiobook some of the best fantasy listening you'll experience this year, and perhaps ever. Yes, we're only in late February, for God's sake. So, want to know more? Read on.
Here's why all the heavy breathing.
I have hoped and prayed for a very long time that Saberhagen's Swords series would one day be available at Audible.
Get ready - For the very first time in SCORES of reviews, I will give teasers and a bit of the plot. If you read my reviews, you know I usually NEVER do this. Why now? Again, this is HUGE. Trust me, you're going to like where this is going.
Imagine that in this sweeping epic's opening story, the god Vulcan forges twelve terrible swords of supernatural might, otherworldly steel twisted into power, born of fire pulled from earth's very core, and each sword's white heat quenched screaming in mortal blood.
Each of these swords is birthed with a unique supernatural ability to bend the future of worlds. For example, Sightblinder crafts the looks of whoever holds it friendly to the wearer's enemies, Coinspinner warps luck, and possibly fate, to the advantage of the bearer...or perhaps instead toward its own mysterious agenda. And so on. These swords are so powerful, that many of them can best even the very Gods themselves. Each unique. Each on its own journey. Each with its own dark purpose in changing the world. Both gods and mortals will be their pawns, and the blood that quenched each sword was only the beginning. Men will be as Gods, and Gods will be brought low to mortality.
Vulcan quietly places these world-changing weapons across the landscape, in the hands of unwitting pawns. Pawns, because each of these swords have a mind of its own, and although the wielder of each sword feels they control the weapon, the sword will have its due and its day. Some travel from person to person, seeking a special purpose with a specific soul. Others lie in wait, quietly patient, and will shake the very heavens when the time is right.
Thus, an epic war begins, and although it starts quite small, it will challenge the heavens, and test the very world itself.
See why I'm excited? That's just the OPENING of this twelve book series. I've given NOTHING away. Nothing. It's that HUGE. Yes, there's that word again, and it FITS. I consider this work as essential as Jordan's Wheel of Time series, and also Erikson's Mazalan Book of the Fallen series. It's very different from both, but equally important.
Some of you have probably already downloaded this very first in the Swords series, and don't need this review to dive in. You already KNOW how awesome this series truly is, and where it will take you.
For the rest of you, this is the doorway to a world-spanning epic that Saberhagen lovingly crafted decades ago. And it's finally arrived at Audible. So, there's only one thing left to do...
Step through the doorway, listener. Your sword awaits!
Avid Zombie fan who's starting to listen to more and more Fantasy and Sci-Fi stories. So, my description is apt to change. Dog lover who's known to have cats. LOL C# coder, part-time prepper, B movie fan, AMC watcher, recovering but successful day trader, perpetual student, overjoyed uncle, former adrenaline junkie with a flare for cooking, and lots more. LOL
wow. michael's review hit it out of the park! i downloaded it based on his enthusiastic comments.
good introductory book. the god, vulcan, recruits some local humans to help him forge 12 magical swords. each sword has a different magical ability. only george, a local blacksmith, survives, and vulcan gives him the sword, townsaver, for his loss of an arm. george's 2nd son, mark, is born under mysterious circumstances. a tragedy lands townsaver in mark's hands, and he must flee those who desire it.
the first book introduces us to 4 of the swords and some of the people who crave them. the swords are fickle and seem loyal to no one. for instance, townsaver will take control of the bearer and cause him to fight w/o stopping until the threat is no more w/o regard to the bearer's condition. after fighting, some bearers collapse from exhaustion or die from the wounds they received while in beserker mode- all offense.
i liked the unpredictability of the swords learning when they'd work and when they wouldn't. i didn't expect swords switching hands so quickly and easily. it actually adds to the drama. just when you want one person to have a certain sword, the author throws a curveball and may take away a sword or replace it with a different sword.
there's a believable amount of cruelty in the story- what people would do for swords, how far they'd go to attain a sword. there's cruelty on the gods' part for creating a game where people and kingdoms clash for possession and cruelty among people who will go to any length and sink to any level to possess a sword.
the story is fast-paced, and a good opening shot as the first kingdoms go to war over the possession of a sword. the different battle scenes are well-paced and fun to listen to. there's no fluff to lengthen the story, and it will keep your attention. i'd say the length is perfect for what is told.
the characters grow on you, and you find yourself rooting for some and wishing bad things on others.
my only disappointment is that this is the only book in the series available on audile. i'll definitely pick up the others as they become available.
This has always been one of my favorite fantasy series. I'm glad to see it finally produced in an audio format. (My kids don't let me read much.) I especially enjoyed re-entering Saberhagen's world and re-learning the song of swords.
Perhaps The Wheel of Time series by Jordon. A young man thrust into a game he cannot control or understand as he tries to survive and protect himself and his friends.
To my knowledge, this is the first of his performances I have had the pleasure of hearing. I thought his reading extremely well done and appropriate for the various characters throughout the book.
It was, and I did. With the wife and kids out of the house, I had the entire day to myself. So, I spent it listening to this book while working on things around the house.
If you enjoy classic fantasy, this is definitely worth a listen. My only regret is that the other two books in the trilogy aren't released yet as of this review. Well, that, or the fact it wasn't recorded as The Complete Book of Swords. TCBoS is an unabridged compendium of the original trilogy.
I'm an LMT originally from the Caribbean Islands of Trinidad and Tobago. I lived in NYC off and on for 15 years. I decided I had enough of long cold winters so summer of 2012 I relocated and now live in sunny Sarasota FL and loving every moment of it. My favorite thing to do is lay on the beach all day long listening to the waves and a great audible book.
Action packed, Characters to identify with, Captivating story line... Sorry that was three phrases...lol
Sir Andrew. He still so much wants to see the good in humanity no matter how bad the person or situation is.
Excellent narrator. i would give him 10 stars if possible. Voice characterization, appropriate speed of narration and rise and fall of the voice to induce mood and excitement.
Not really. Only moments of extreme suspense and relief
I liked that it was a relatively short book because it was so captivating that I wanted to finish the whole thing as quickly as possible. I'm definitely gonna get the next 2.
My only dislike is that it ended a little abruptly in suspense and it is not an independent book. A person MUST get the other books to find real resolve in the story, but I guess that's the point of a series?...lol
THE LAST CHAPTER OF THIS BOOK IS A SPOILER! I LOVE this series, and I was very upset to hear that last chapter, that is just a detailed explanation of all 12 swords, blurted out at the end of book 1!!!!! No story details except a few spoilers of book 3. Go back and listen to the last chapter after book 3 and you will be fine. There is a "Song of Swords" that is spread out through the books and it is in a collection in this chapter. There is also, FYI, a collection of short stories called the Armory of Swords that the last chapter was written as a guide. I am sad to see that the Armory is not available yet. After book 3 you should be ok to listen to this chapter and nothing spoiled.
Now for some dribble if you're interested...
These books were among the first books I started reading when I was in Jr High. I recieved this series through a book mail program. Turns out I couldn't get enough. I read the Complete Book of Swords(books 1, 2, and 3) and I was very happy to learn of the Lost Sword series that continues the story(if you like a sherlock holms type of book then stonecutter is for you), ending with the short stories from the Armory of Swords(again not available on audible yet).
At this point I assumed I was done,... well it turns out there were books leading up to these! The first 3 books have been placed into one book called Empire of the East. I prefered the Sword series over these, and I see reviews saying the narrator makes these books almost unbearable. I enjoyed them because they are constantly refering to the old world, or ancient battles between huge forces.
1.The Broken Lands (1968)
2.The Black Mountains (1971)
3.Changeling Earth (1973), also titled Ardneh's World
4.Ardneh's Sword (2006)
There are the 4 books that are the empire of the east books, I am not sure if the Empire of the East on audible is all 4 of these, or just the first 3 since that is how these stories were rereleased.
Sorry for my spelling errors or punctuation errors, I did this in a hurry and my new 8 month old son is wearing me out!
P.S. check out Saberhagens Book of the Gods series too. Not the swords, but still pretty good. What can I say, Greek Mythology gets me every time!
Ken Magerman Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Historical Fiction fan. Teacher, rockstar, medival gourmet, dungeon master, expert on secret Targaryens.
It wasn't an overly complex story but a good one. The idea of Roman/Greek gods was very interesting and even more compelling once i heard about the prequel series. The idea of the swords them self is very cool and reminiscent of the old Greek myths which i loved.
I feel like it had a very classic feel. Drawing more from ancient myths then Tolkien or other fantasy godfathers.
I thought the narration was quite good in general. Variety in characters without being over the top.
The big climax near the end.
A really enjoyable start to a series. I have since read the others and felt things dropped off a bit...but this novel was a great introduction to an interesting world.
The First Book of Swords by Fred Saberhagen published 2012. Narrated by Derek Perkins.
8 Hrs 52 Min 9 Sec
The narrator Derek Perkins did a very good job in making this story come alive.
Although I am a ardent Fantasy reader this book did not really grip my attention as much as I figured it would after reading the blurb.
The story is never slow though it is simply that the book is setting the stage for a series that I am sure will be much more captivating than the first book in the story. It had it's moments though and I would recommend you read it yourself to decide if this fantasy world is one where you can get lost in.
Likes to listen while doing chores; likes to write reviews while he should be doing chores.
This book is OK. Just OK. And by, "OK," I mean, "not awful, but in no way to be confused with good."
It certainly brings you the trappings of fantasy. It has an adolescent boy protagonist, magic swords, dragons, evil barons, honorable knights, sorcerers, castles, petty, squabbling gods, an army of golems, you know, the usual. It was one dwarf with a Scottish accent away from the true Platonic Form of a fantasy novel.
The book has an interesting device with the god-given swords and their various powers all serving to meddle in human affairs for the entertainment of the gods. That makes for a substantive and entertaining element for the series's story arc.
Unfortunately, the elements that make a good book are not there. The plot is weak. Not much actually happens in the story and it ends very abruptly without any resolution, even an intermediate one as you might expect with a series. It just ends.
What I find most unforgivable are the characters. They are not persons. They are cardboard cutouts pretending to be persons. If they seem nice, they are nice. If they antagonize, they are evil, just because. The duke is evil because the story needs a villain. And it is not just one throw-away character in some insignificant scene; every character is equally one-dimensional, except for the protagonist who is non-dimensional. Saberhagen did everything to be obvious about his characters except give them names like: Goodguy McHonorable, Sneaky O'Spytheif, and Dastardly von Hitlerburg.
Saberhagen forgets, that even though it is fantasy and has magic and other arcane and incredible elements, the struggles, growth, contention, adversity, and joy have to be shared by seemingly "real" people. Otherwise, the real people reading the story will have nothing to sympathize with. It will be as compelling as a rally with signs and banners and face paint, but no participants.
Perkins's reading was solid, but with these characters, there was really nowhere to go.
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