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Publisher's Summary

Reiko, empress of Japan, has allied herself with Princess Órlaith, heir to the High Kingdom of Montival, to find the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, the Grass-Cutting Sword, a legendary treasure of an ancient dynasty that confers valor and victory to its bearer. Órlaith understands all too well the power it signifies. Her own inherited blade, the Sword of the Lady, was both a burden and a danger to her father, Rudi Mackenzie, as it failed to save the king from being assassinated. But the fabled sword lies deep with the Valley of Death, and the search will be far from easy. And war is building in Montival and far beyond.

As Órlaith and Reiko encounter danger and wonder, Órlaith's mother, Queen Matildha, believes her daughter's alliance and quest has endangered the entire realm. There are factions both within and without Montival whose loyalty died with the king, and whispers of treachery and war grow ever louder. And the Malevolence that underlies the enemy will bend all its forces to destroy them.

©2015 S. M. Stirling (P)2015 Recorded Books

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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problems with sound quality

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

My only problem with this book is with the sound quality. While the narrator, Todd McLaren is excellent, when he speaks in the character's interior voices he whispers & it is difficult to hear, especially when listening in the car. I found myself constantly adjusting the volume when he switched between the modes of voice.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Continues the story

To begin I've read all the books in this series as well as the "Nantucket" series before that, so obviously I enjoy his style and storytelling. But ,and I too hate when someone is full of praise for something and then drops a "but", for all of that there are times that the premise that for the good of mankind a "higher" power wipes out 99% of the world's population and leaves those remaining forever in a state feudal agrarianism, or at least until the next asteroid can be a little grating.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Ryan
  • Corvallis, OR United States
  • 12-02-15

Hopscotch through a long story

Long book with major sections cut out so it wasn't two books.
First part of the book flowed normally building up to a major battle with different side stories involved.
Then it's like he realized "I've got to finish the rest of the story in XXX pages. " and they suddenly start skipping from scene to scene to be able to finish the book without splitting it into another volume.
Each cut scene will stop and have some meat to it and then jump to another scene.
Love his books. But I'd like to have the missing sections of this one back.
Good story, but the ending is FLAT after all the buildup. It was like a Star Trek episode where the director is told, "BTW, you've got 3 mins to wrap this story up." And that's about how long it took to wrap up a 21hr audiobook. Which is a disgrace to the reader.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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So So

I've enjoyed this series, but this most recent series wasn't up to previous standards... The story dragged and wallowied, while not bringing much new to the series quest... That being said, the writing was quite good, and the settings were vividly described... The quest and its characters remain intriguing, if running in a place a bit... Perhaps this was more in the way of a setup for what comes next??? The narration was adequate, and the narrator does well w/ the widely differing voices, but the delivery is exceptionally slow... It slows the pace and flow of the story that is already slow... Works out better sped up... I found 1.25 a bit slow, and 1.5 a bit fast, so decide for yurself...

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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A great culmination of the previous stories!

Great narration, feathering in old story lines, and new character accents on the previous characters and story lines!



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Loved it!

Great, this new installment redeemed the series. new generation of characters and new locations to explore!

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Outstanding! The BEST of the series!

Exceptionally well written, wonderfully narrated and beautifully framed on a world that manages to be alien, familiar and so very exciting all at the same time. Frankly it is OMHO the best installment of this epic series. Crown Princess Orlaith and Empress Reiko characters are masterfully developed and are rapidly becoming my favorites on the saga. The only minor issue I have with the book is that the last chapter felt rushed and provided little to explain Reiko's brother miraculous re-appearance with the mortal enemies of her people. Thank you Mr. Stirling and Mr. McLaren for another great work!

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Retard of Rudy/Artos life

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Artos has died and his daughter is now the bearer of the Sword. Let her avenge her Father. She deceives her mother (cool) but is so SSLLOOWW to get to battle the evil force. WTH???

What was most disappointing about S. M. Stirling’s story?

Keeps going back to Rudy's legacy. This was explained numerous times in books One through Ten.

Which character – as performed by Todd McLaren – was your favorite?

Todd is an awesome narrator. Can always tell who is speaking. GREAT JOB

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Desert and the Blade?

All the play back scenes for Rudy, lets go on.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Horrible

I absolutely love the first three books by sm stirling. From there it slowly goes down hill but we tolerate it for the love of the characters. But this book and the previous are the most horrendously boring and utter stupid books I've encountered. Todd Mclaren is a fantastic narrator I don't blame him one bit. Long story short. Only listen to the first three books maybe up until Nantucket. Then Stop!

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr. S. P. Campbell
  • 11-06-17

Back to form

An enjoyable story of magic swords and evil thwarted, read by Todd McLaren in his own inimitable way well worth the time to listen to. I look forward to another of this ilk

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  • Ian Warrender
  • 10-30-16

The series reaches a new high point

Dispite its length this book is perfectly timed and what Stirling has improved on with here is linking character development with world development, the two don't feel separate any more and what a world it is, what was hinted before is even more a reality. This feels like the book the Emberverse has always been heading for building up on all the themes while standing on its own merits.