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The One Kingdom: Book One of the Swans' War Trilogy [Paperback]

Sean Russell
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 Mar 2002 Swans' War

From their home in the Vale of Lakes, a group of young traders embark on a quest to make their fortune. Carrying a cargo of ancient artefacts, their journey along the River Wynnd will take them into a world both strange and terrifying. They will meet extraordinary people, witness unforgettable events and discover something that will change their lives for ever.

For the world is a far more complex place than the adventurers could have imagined. In the aftermath of a terrible war, political upheaval and family rivalries threaten to plunge the land into a new dark age. The past, it seems, is far from forgotten. And the consequences of that long-ago war are by no means played out.

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The One Kingdom: Book One of the Swans'  War Trilogy + The Shadow Road: Book Three in the Swans' War Trilogy (Swans' War S.)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; New Ed edition (7 Mar 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841490881
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841490885
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 10.8 x 4.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 388,011 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantasy fresh air 5 Jun 2002
By A Customer
Like the previous reviewers I was finding much fantasy writing stale (I was reading Stone of Tears at the same time as The One Kingdom which proved a useful contrast). The One Kingdom is a marvellous, leisurely paced book without many of the usual fantasy cliches. You get a real sense that the main characters are being slowly but irresistably drawn into a greater story with its origins in the distant past. The magic is low key evoking mystery rather than wizz bang pyrotechnics. I can't wait for the second part! Knights of the Vow = Knights Templar?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dream of a book 28 May 2002
By A Customer
This is a beautiful book. The plot is intricately woven,layers building one on another, and the characters are believable, flawed, and human. The atmosphere is tense at times, and yet there is something dreamlike and at times idyllic in a relaxed kind of way. A book that will drop images into your mind and induce a variety of moods. I was impressed. And then horrified that I'll have to wait almost a year for the sequel. How can they do that?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very, very good... (A "BOOK SWEDE" REVIEW) 16 Sep 2007
By Christopher Halo VINE VOICE
Three young travelers leave their village to see more of the world - that's when the trouble begins. Meeting a mysterious man, Alaan, who seems to know more about their family and ancestors than they do, they're suddenly attacked by nameless soldiers and forced to flee - leaving Alaan, presumed dead, behind them.

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 ...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant read that lacks pace. 30 May 2006
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. The main plot is simple enough and the magic seems suitably mysterious, however I found the world unconvincing and underdeveloped. That aside it is a nice start to an entertain saga. undemanding.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The stories that we tell 24 Nov 2003
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. Every one of them means something to you at the time, though if it's not a very interesting story, it may fade into the mists of time. If it's particularly interesting, and affects a lot of people, it may be recorded and become part of society's memory, which will allow it to live past the end of your life.
The One Kingdom, by Sean Russell, is a book that is about, ultimately, stories. Neil Gaiman writes about stories and how they affect us, but Russell is writing about how we write stories with our very actions. He wraps this in a story of his own, an epic yet strangely personal story about a group of young men from a remote village, out for a little adventure, who find a lot more than they bargain for. Also included is a story about a young girl who is a pawn in an evil scheme, and a mysterious man who is trying desperately to avert a war. Russell does a marvelous job of tying all these disparate stories together into a tight narrative, engaging the reader's interest as we wonder just how they are all going to come together.
Russell uses the ultimate story of two warring families to bring this unity. The Renné and the Wills have been divided for over a hundred years, with the land never having a true ruler. Instead, it's just been two factions in an unsteady peace that's been rife with conflict and tension. As the book begins, a murder is being plotted, as the cousins of Toren, head of the Renné family, try to avert what they feel is a fatal mistake. Toren is about to give back the legendary Isle of Battle to the Wills, who they took it from all those years ago.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes Yes Yes 2 April 2002
Fantasy in the last couple of years has become a little jaded, with very little written that comes as close to perfection as "The one Kingdon" (with the possible exception of a "Fools Errand" by Robin Hobb).
A fabulously deep story, with some very good charachter development, one is left gasping for more.
I wont give too much more away - If you like fantasy - buy this book. If you don't like fantasy - buy this book it will change your perception of fantasy.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly dissatisfying...
I bought this series partly due to the recommendation of Stephen Donaldson, who apparently described it as "subtle, well-crafted and gripping". Read more
Published 3 months ago by Morag O'donoghue
4.0 out of 5 stars A slow beginning, until all clicks together.
The One Kingdom tells the story of three young lads from the Vale of Lakes, Tam Loell and his cousin Fynnol, and Fynnol's cousin Baore Talon, who set off on the river Wynnd to sell... Read more
Published on 9 Mar 2011 by Stephanie Noverraz
3.0 out of 5 stars Unoriginal but enjoyable.
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
Published on 1 Sep 2007 by plot hound
5.0 out of 5 stars There is nothing Lame about Sean Russell or The Swan's War.
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 more
Published on 11 Jan 2005 by Isabella Balkert
2.0 out of 5 stars Lame clone of Robert Jordan
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 more
Published on 3 Jun 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly the best series books I have read...
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
Published on 9 April 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply The Best
I think this book is simply fantastic. The plot is deep, the characters complex and the story is truly gripping and intense. Read more
Published on 13 Sep 2003
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