- Paperback: 720 pages
- Publisher: Orbit; New Ed edition (7 Mar. 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1841490881
- ISBN-13: 978-1841490885
- Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 17.7 x 4.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 209,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The One Kingdom: Book One of the Swans' War Trilogy Paperback – 7 Mar 2002
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The One Kingdom, the first volume of the "Swans' War" sequence, takes us to a land cut into a myriad of small valleys by an endlessly curving and treacherous river which sometimes wanders out of reality. Selfish nobles have reduced the land to barbarism and poverty with their feuding over what is no longer even credibly a throne--even the honourable Arden and Dease are plotting to kill their much-loved kinsman for trying to make a peace with enemies they will not trust. And into this mess of arranged marriages and evil henchmen and blind minstrel lords wander three young men from the further reaches of the valleys looking for the man who pilfered the minor treasures they had gleaned from old battlefields, a man who is more than he seems and whose enemies are not people to whose attention one wishes to come. Russell is setting things up for the long haul here, and yet this is a book full of set pieces and a sense of the bloody past haunting the present like a nightmare. We find ourselves caring passionately about minor characters: a disfigured noblewoman who attends a ball behind a mask and the minstrels casually butchered by a dark magician's hired thugs. --Roz Kaveney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The One Kingdom, the first volume of the "Swans (War" sequence, takes us to a land cut into a myriad of small valleys by an endlessly curving and treacherous river which sometimes wanders out of reality. Selfish nobles have reduced the land to barbarism and poverty with their feuding over what is no lon)
#NAME? ('A master of intelligent fantasy subtle, wellcrafted and gripping.')
STEPHEN Donaldson ('This book is the beginning of something big, something very big')
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Top Customer Reviews
The first night they're met by Alaan, a stranger looking for old stories about given names in the Vale. When they're attacked by brigands, Alaan sacrifices himself to help the young men escape. The next morning, they meet a party of travelling Fáel. Among them Cynddl, a story finder, asks to join the boys on their trip downriver. A trip that will end up taking them much further south than they initially intended.
South, where Dease, Samul, Arden and Beldor Renné are plotting the political murder, at the annual Westbrook Fair, of their cousin Toren, current leader of the family. This way they want to prevent him from returning the Isle of Battle to the Wills, the Renné's age-old enemies. Indeed, they think this peace offer will make them vulnerable and bring the family to ruin, plus they hope to frame the Wills at the same time.
Also caught in the midst of this intrigue is 20-year-old Elise, daughter of the blind musician Lord Carral Wills and niece of the despicable Menwyn, who wants to marry her off to Prince Michael, son of Prince Neit of Innes, and use her to reawaken war against the Renné.
I found the beginning of the story rather slow, with the first four protagonists mainly rowing down the river, and sometimes reminiscent of the Fellowship of the Ring, with young cousins off on an adventure, meeting elf-like Fáel, being tracked down by scary men... I also thought the short glimpses at the numerous other characters' stories were kind of confusing. Thankfully, the plot really gets interesting when all pieces finally click together around 200 pages before the end, and the book suddenly becomes a page-turner.
Barely escaping, Tam, Baore, and Fynnol stumble into a Fael camp. The Fael - a people of wandering minstrels and storytellers - remind me, for some reason, of Robert Jordan's Tuatha'an.
Meanwhile, a feud between two noble houses - the Renné and the Wills - threatens to open up again, and engulf the world in a bloody fire of vengeance and betrayal. But, both sides are being played against each other by the sinister Eremon - thought killed many years ago, under another name...
From a somewhat unoriginal and atypical fantasy start, the story soon started taking on its own flavour; quickly becoming apparent that Sean Russell was not simply dredging up old cliches, but doing something new and inventive ... as well as just being a plain great writer!
I thought the idea of a story-finder - able to pick up memories and events from the past - was a really original idea, and Cynddl was certainly an interesting character. It was a very clever way to have someone knowing about the past, but not be a Useless Guide type of character.
The background characters were fleshed out well, too; it can be all too easy to have main protagonists well developed, and the supporting cast, cardboard, cliché-cut-outs. The Renné and the Wills were very intriguing, and it'll be exciting to see in the next two books, whether Russell lets both Houses realise their similarities and same cause ...Read more ›
There are aspects of this book that are really good - the quality of the writing, the unfolding history that underpins the story, the sense of various Celtic myths being interwoven and retold in a very different way. But whilst some of the characters are reasonably intriguing, some are, well, a bit flat - particularly, I have to say, the lead character, Tam. The biggest problem, though, was that long chunks of the story are positively tedious - essentially, they consist of: they travel a bit, then some baddies attack them, but against the odds our guys beat them or manage to escape, then they travel a bit more, then some more baddies attack them but, guess what, against the odds ...
I persevered with all three books, and was reasonably happy with how all the various characters' threads in the storyline were resolved at the end, but to be honest, it became a bit of a chore getting there. So, it was OK, but not something I will be going back to re-read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a light weight book with little memorable but nothing bad.
The book has lots of good points but lacks originality, it simply uses parts from other fantasy... Read more
Ok sometimes a relaxed pace in a book is pleasant, here i found it a little off putting. The main characters are typical every man style heroes out of their depth. Read morePublished on 30 May 2006 by genejoke
And how anybody can call The Swans war a clone of Jordan's The Wheel of time, is a wonder to me. I can only think of one explanation for the previous acid review - It must be a bad... Read morePublished on 11 Jan. 2005 by Isabella Balkert
I'd heard really good things about the book, but as soon as three young male characters appeared - one with a mysterious past, one cheeky and carefree, one strong and silent - I... Read morePublished on 3 Jun. 2004
Sean Russell is a genius, let it be known.
Starting with what seems like a peaceful traveller joining their campfire, then robbery, then they become hunted, but who is friend... Read more
When it comes right down to it, life is a series of interlocking stories, one of your stories interacting with that of someone else, or maybe those of a few other people. Read morePublished on 24 Nov. 2003 by David Roy