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The Isle of Battle (Swans' War) [Paperback]

Sean Russell
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 April 2003 Swans' War
In THE ONE KINGDOM, a group of young traders embarked on a quest to make their fortune. Journeying along the River Wynnd with a cargo of ancient artefacts, they soon discovered the world to be a far more complex place than they could ever have imagined. Alaan is trapped in the Stillwater - an eerie, fog-bound place hidden from the sun and shrouded in mystery. Tam and his friends must find him before it is too late. For Alaan is wounded and close to death, and his enemies, if they reach him first, will show no mercy. Set in a world in which magic and political intrigue collide, with unforgettable characters and brilliant storytelling, THE SWANS' WAR is a series destined to become a classic. Find out more about this title and others at

Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; New edition edition (3 April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841491934
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841491936
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 10.6 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 187,090 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Sean Russell adds interesting ideas to the Medievalising fantasy. The Isle of Battle, second volume of his Swan's War trilogy, has a handy amount of night-time treachery, feats of archery, sorcery and pitched cavalry battles. It has interesting thoughts about the nature of identity--to save her life, noblewoman Elise has allowed herself to be possessed by the long-dead sorceress Sianon and it is not clear, in either direction, who got the better of the deal. Similarly, Russell plays games with honour--is Dease, who has changed his loyalties, more, or less, honourable than his cousin Samul, who pursues them into dishonour and treachery?

These books take place in debatable land--centuries earlier a sorcerer twisted the relationship in time and space between locations along a river valley and its tributaries--and the moral landscape in which the characters get bogged down is equally perverse and disjointed. He brings a compassion to relationships--that between the blind minstrel King Carral, for example, and the hideously scarred Llyn--that never becomes quite saccharine. As its predecessor, The One Kingdom,The Isle of Battlekeeps us caring about the destinies of a large cast of characters and weighs courage against wisdom, loyalty against righteousness in an intelligent and morally complex narrative. --Roz Kaveney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


** 'One of the best fantasies of recent years . Sean Russell has all the gifts that a master storyteller needs' ENIGMA on ISLE OF BATTLE ** 'A master of intelligent fantasy - subtle, well-crafted and gripping' STEPHEN DONALDSON ** 'Magic and mystery blend in abundance with an intricate cast of characters. An engrossing read.' ROBIN HOBB

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First Sentence
IT WAS SAID THAT THE WYNND WAS A HAUNTED RIVER-A RIVER of many mysteries and many branches that took men places none had seen before. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Master at Work 14 Oct 2002
By A Customer
Sean Russell writes very very well. The story flows like the great river at the heart of the book and the characters, plot and pace are controlled with a light yet firm grip that makes all of his books a pleasure to read. It has been nearly a year since I read the one kingdom but the gap seems irrelevant as within a dozen pages I was again hooked!
Sean Russell is set apart from a lot of other writers in the genre is that he is, at heart, a storyteller. This ability to carry the reader along the current of the narrative makes his books throughly enjoyable reads.
I heartedly recommend his other books, particularly the Darwinian duologies for those seeking another fix until the final installment of this engaging story.
A first rate read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Isle of Battle 23 Sep 2002
Having finished Sean Russell's first book I couldn't wait for The Isle of Battle to arrive on the shelf, and despite having to buy the hardback it was well worth every penny! This writer is creating a fantasy land which is destined to be a classic. The landscape through which the reader travels is becoming richer and more rounded, with numerous characters and plot lines threaded together in this engrossing story. His narrative style is easy to read and not over blown like many fantasy writers, and using a simple and clear style he has created a world firmly planted in a believable reality, whose's characters are surprised to find is emmeshed in a magic and tortured history that draws them, and you the reader, irressitably on.
New characters serve to enrich and deepen the plot which is totally absorbing. As the plot lines and characters lives develop, Russell doesn't keep you waiting through inumerable chapters to find out how they are all developing,but interweaves them together keeping you in constant touch with all the threads of the story as it twists and turns. He also keeps you on your toes as he is not precious about despatching well established characters, and you are never quite sure what is going to happen next. Only one problem- it's at least a year for the next book!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable characters and imagery 30 Oct 2012
By KTRhys
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For the weeks that I read these books, I lived in the world of its characters. I have searched Amazon regularly for more of the same author's works. The story was well written, the characters' relationships psychologically sound. I enjoyed the warm friendships, the trials and tribulations faced by the young travelers the their coming of age stories were superb. Highly recommended reading for anyone who wants to enjoy another world for a few hours, and make some very memorable friends :)
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4.0 out of 5 stars You might get wet! 30 Mar 2011
This is the second book in the Swans' War trilogy (after The One Kingdom and before The Shadow Road).

After the Renné costume ball and the disastrous attempt at overcoming Hafydd, Alaan is seriously wounded and flees to the river Wynnd, finally ending up in the gloomy Stillwater marshland.

In his tracks are Haffyd and his men-at-arms, accompanied by Prince Michael secretly spying on him, and
Elise Wills, soon joined by Baore, Tam, Fynnol, Cynddl and Pwyll, champion of the Westbrook Fair tournament.

After their cousin Toren's failed assassination, Samul and Beldor Renné are forced to flee. Toren, Dease, and later the Knight of the Vow Gilbert A'brgail, follow.

Meanwhile at Castle Renné, Lord Carral Wills meets Lady Beatrice and asks for the Isle of Battle to be returned to him in exchange for a peace treaty. There he also meets Llyn, and the reclusive girl with the burned face finally lowers her barriers in the blind man's presence.

But at the same time the Prince of Innes and Menwyn Wills, taking advantage of Hafydd's absence, decide to overrun Isle of Battle. The Renné and their new ally Lord Carral must go to war.

In this volume, numerous groups of characters alternately converge, forging new alliances, and diverge, like meandering arms of a river. Aside from Lord Carral's branch and its tributaries, it seemed to me that most of the book was spend wading waist-deep in the murky swamp of the Stillwater, squinting through thick fog, following the various groups of protagonists chasing each other, trying to catch Alaan before it's too late... leaving me virtually sodden.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A weak middle chapter of a fair trilogy. 11 April 2008
I really struggled to finidh this book, despite quite enjoying the one kingdom. It felt a labour to read it rather than a pleasure. I cannot say precisely why either, it lacked spark I suppose. Now don't get me wrong it is ok and worth reading if you enjoyed the first.
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By Christopher Halo VINE VOICE
The Isle of Battle starts off directly after the hectic events of The One Kingdom (9/10) , and it starts off fast! Sean Russell provides a kind of synopsis to the previous events -- very useful, as throughout the book, no reprieve is given to the reader, with Russell constantly moving from scene to scene with an almost fierce abandon.

The story in The Isle of Battle is more developed, as is to be expected, and a sense of pettiness, almost, is established at the lesser events -- it becomes very clear that much more is at stake that the honour or ancient enmity of two Houses, as mighty powers rage for control of their land.

As for characterisation, I really liked the importance Lord Carral was given in this book, and I felt he developed well, particularly after suffering the news of what he thought was his daughter's death. Unknown -- at least, for a little while -- to everyone, is that his daughter still lives and has struck a bargain with one of the children of Wyrr ...

...And that's not good.

The Stillwater is one of my favourite locations for a show-down in any book I've read. On one of the "hidden roads" is where it lurks, and a lot of care has gone into making the Stillwater a vivid and memorable landscape. Alaan didn't spend much time traveling this time -- trapped as he was in marsh-type locale with the most powerful sorcerers trying to track him down and kill him. Also not good, especially after the injuries he received at the end of The One Kingdom...
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