Regular price: $19.95

Free with 30-day trial
Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

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.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


  • 4.0 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
  • 4 Stars
  • 3 Stars
  • 2 Stars
  • 1 Stars


  • 4.2 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
  • 4 Stars
  • 3 Stars
  • 2 Stars
  • 1 Stars


  • 4.0 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
  • 4 Stars
  • 3 Stars
  • 2 Stars
  • 1 Stars
Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Stands the test of time

Any additional comments?

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.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

One Of My Very Highest Recommendations!

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!

84 of 91 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

had me from the prologue

Any additional comments?

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.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Jason
  • PENSACOLA, FL, United States
  • 02-28-13

A great series finally comes to Audible.

What made the experience of listening to The First Book of Swords the most enjoyable?

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.

What other book might you compare The First Book of Swords to and why?

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.

Have you listened to any of Derek Perkins’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

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.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

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.

Any additional comments?

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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Karen
  • Sarasota,FL. United States
  • 04-01-13

Never a dull moment

If you could sum up The First Book of Swords in three words, what would they be?

Action packed, Characters to identify with, Captivating story line... Sorry that was three

Who was your favorite character and why?

Sir Andrew. He still so much wants to see the good in humanity no matter how bad the person or situation is.

What about Derek Perkins’s performance did you like?

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.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Not really. Only moments of extreme suspense and relief

Any additional comments?

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?

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Francis
  • Garland, TX, United States
  • 04-26-13

The books that started me reading

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!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Full Series Review: Swords/Lost TL;DR - OK to Skip

I read the first couple of these books when they came out, and remembered liking them, but never finished the whole series, so I started from the beginning again. I could have skipped it. The series is mainly appropriate for a YA audience, though I don't know if that was the intention. The first three books/performances are perfectly fine. The stories are interesting, though the writing is a bit ingenuous, and the narrator is professional and engaging. The rest though, oy vey. Again, the series is mainly G-rated, which I actually prefer. But when Saberhagen makes forays into PG territory, things get sketchy. It's as if he was told "sex sells", and so felt compelled to put some into the stories, even though it's not his thing. The scenes, even when in-line with the narrative, seem oddly placed, and the writing is awkward and stilted; he seems embarrassed to be discussing it. And there are a couple of places where he simply should have left it out altogether.

Then there's the narrator. First, I can't be sure why they chose a female narrator for books where the cast is o.ver.whelmingly male. And as I mentioned in another review, the reading was.. strange. The narrator was given to odd, inappropriate pauses, weird inflections, and bad pronunciation. There were times she inflected sentences that ended up carrying meanings entirely different from what the intent obviously was from the context, even turning the occasional question into a statement and vice versa. She also had a tendency to change the pronunciation of words - regular words and proper names alike - halfway through a narrative, or from book to book, and definitely different from the first narrator, though I realize that's not uncommon. And the woman can not say the word "tentatively". There are other words that came out with weird pronunciations too, but that one stuck with me because it happened a few times (3 syllables vs 4). I'm finishing the series, because that's what you do, but if someone reads this review, I'd say feel free to give it a miss unless you're fifteen...

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Summary sets the bar to high for first entry?

For an audiobook kicking off a series about magically powerful swords and the chaos they cause while gods play a mysterious game using the wielders as chess pieces, this book is a bit plain for a first impression. "The First Book of Swords" holds up well enough today, however the pacing still feels a bit predictable in it's structure.

The bad guys are your typical arrogant fantasy bad guys. The good guys, at least the main ones, are your typical naive but brave fantasy good guys. Perhaps later in the series, these characters will become deeper and more developed as time goes on, but as it stands from this book the only characters that stand apart seem to be a few side characters with limited exposure.

The plot also isn't nearly as entertainingly tangled as one would expect from the summary as well. Again, maybe this will change as the book series moves on, but as it stand now, judging from this first book, the storyline is very simple. Someone obtains a mysterious powerful sword, one of a set created by gods, and another person wants to collect them in order to have access to more power and lord it over other people. A line is drawn in the sand, they fight each other, people die, and there is a lackluster cliffhanger leading on to the next book.

The narrator does an average job bringing in interest as an audiobook as well. Derek Perkins doesn't have a bad voice for narration, but throughout the book he often keeps the same tones; It is as if he is having a pleasant conversation, but not emphasizing anything. With a few exceptions, characters tend to seem to passively interested even when they should be stressed out.  

The end result for "The First Book of Swords" seems to only be an average one. This audiobook is recommended to fans of very traditional fantasy adventure storylines and listeners who don't mind a slow beginning when it comes to a story that spans many books and features many characters over time.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Wanda
  • Pretoria, South Africa
  • 09-26-13

Not bad. It had its moments more of a scene set

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Couldn't do it!!!

Never having read anything by Saberhagen but knowing the name, I ask a number of fantasy readers if starting with "Book of Swords" {seeing as there seems to be a dozen or so}would be logical. Mostly I got mixed reviews. This series simply moved to slow and had way to much rambling for me to enjoy.