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on 9 December 2002
The first book in a peculiar trilogy that isn't a trilogy, but rather covers the same period from different perspectives. Surprisingly, this doesn't make the second and third book extremely boring, because you don't really know the ending until you've read all three books and put the pieces together.
Very well written, the characters and the story are the focus, Duncan doesn't get mired in descibing the world or cluttering it with strange creatures and magics. There are just enough peculiarities to make it interesting, and the pace is relatively high throughout the series.
The binding of a guard, or slave for that matter, to his master has been explored by some other writers, but Duncan paints a particularly vivid picture of the pros and cons of this practice. Other than that, this is swordfighting and riding around type of fantasy, but a good one at that.
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on 23 March 2015
Interesting story and concepts. I have no idea how to sum it up without spoiling the plot. Let's say it's a sort of retelling of a well known Historical figure with interesting magical and exotic touches.
It has quite a few flaws. Secondary characters are not well developed. You know you're supposed to care because the hero cares about them, but the author really does not spent enough time characterizing them. It is particularly obvious with his wife or his friends. Even the "villain" is not really defined. The book basically has 2 characters : the hero and the king. Which could have worked really well, had it been better played on.
The book is still quite enjoyable, and don't get fooled by the weird cover art. I almost did not buy the book because it put me off.
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on 4 December 1998
If you are reading this then you are most likely deciding if The Gilded Chain is a book that you'd like to read. You should. Why? A swashbuckling adventure. Conspiracies against the king. A mysterious five year quest. Heroism, honor and treachery. The entire story of a man who grows into a legend. All in a single volume.
Dave Duncan's books have always reeked of intelligence. The writing is crisp, and the dialog is witty. There were times The Gilded Chain made me laugh out loud. Every world that he has created has been filled with clever ideas. While, the world of The Kings Blades is more like our world then any of his others, it is no exception.
If you are looking for a memorable story filled with adventure, magic, and true heroes then Buy This Book. You won't even have to wait 10 years for the ending!
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on 16 March 1999
I hadn't read Dave Duncan up until now, but I received this book as a gift. I was expecting another saga of a scullion who grows up to discover that he's the warrior foretold in prophecy, blah, blah, blah. Instead, it's the story of a virtuous man living in troubled times, and doing his duty as honor binds him. The central theme of the King's Blades is different from most magic systems in fantasy novels, and the exploration of the concept was interesting. And I was especially pleased to discover that the novel stands completely alone; there's little room to return to this character in a sequel. However, I would certainly be interested in another novel of the King's Blades.
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on 31 December 1998
Since reading the "Man of His Word" series several years ago, Dave Duncan has been one of my favorite authors. He creates a level of realism that brilliantly achieves the "suspension of disbelief". "The Gilded Chain" fits perfectly into this category.
The story at first appears to be on two separate lines, but as you read they flow into a single thread that makes the book almost impossible to put down. The characters behave as you think they should, at least in hindsight. The story has only one major drawback: reality. Rather than the optomistic happy endings, things happen in a much grimmer and believable manner.
This book is a must read for Duncan fans, and would be enjoyed by many very critical readers. Dave Duncan has created another amazing world for his readers to visit. I'm just glad I don't have to live there.
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on 9 October 1998
Dave Duncan sets a new standard for "sword and sorcery" novels. No heavy-thewed barbarians here, just a boy who becomes a master swordsman and has to make his way in a well-realized world rife with political intrigue and just enough magic to keep the plot moving along. The best-drawn character, surprisingly, isn't Durandal, the protagonist, but perhaps is either the King (who gives you new sympathy for Henry VIII) or Kromman, the black-robed inquisitor who could give Tolkien's Grima Wormtongue a run for his money. Duncan has never disappointed me in his writing; his worlds, political systems, magic systems and characters keep me coming back for more. I'm definitely looking forward to another King's Blades book.
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on 6 December 1998
Few authors can generate so many complex and different worlds which are exactingly consistent within themselves, let alone populate them with such interesting characters. From the "Reluctant Swordsman", to the "King's Blades", characters are portrayed with depth and realism. They are the kind of people that you'd like to get to know as friends, and Duncan lets you do just that.
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on 1 June 2010
With such high praise from well known fantasy authors, this was set up to be an absolutely fantastic book! However, I was absolutely disappointed.

First, can anyone tell me what the first book in this series actually is? because the fronts of all the books can't seem to agree, and if you go by publication date, it still doesn't seem to make any sense. So I read this one first, perhaps that was my mistake?

Next, the characters! They were all, as far as I could tell, completely identical in personality. I knew who the main character was, but he just seemed very dull and uninteresting. Nothing made him appealing or unappealing, he was just...there. Nothing else. All the other characters were the same. A few died, and I barely noticed.

It reads like a book of closely related short stories, rather than a complete novel, and I didn't like this. The characters went on short, unepic adventures, fought a bit, returned home, and that seemed to be it. I never managed to finish this book, there was just not enough plot or in fact enough of anything to keep me reading.

The best part was the Prolgue, which I had read and decided that it seemed like a fantastic story and I was desperate to start reading it. So sure was I, that it would be a great book and series, that I also got the other books in this series, which, unfortunately, probably wont be getting read now.

So basically this was a rather dull, plotless book with lifeless characters. I wouldn't recommend it.
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on 13 October 1998
I have been reading and enjoying Dave Duncan's (DD) novels for over a decade. Each one is different and unique. "The Gilded Chain" is no exception. This fantasy novel is set in a world unlike any that I have read about before. It was a pleasure reading this novel. The main character, Durendal, is a man whose heart is in the right place. We see him as a young, inexperienced man, then as seasoned warrior and finally as man wise in the ways of the world and its politics. By the end of the book Durendal is not the same person as at the beginning. DD has developed a character that we feel for and are interested in. Durendal travels through many lands and as usual with DD, we see an original world rich with a wide variety of cultures. I also enjoyed that the characters in this novel were fully developed, not all black or white. They all had their share of virtues and faults, up to and including the king. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and highly recommend it to fans of fantasy novels.
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on 8 October 1998
Dave Duncan's newest novel "The Gilded Chain" was a real delight, the sort of thing I read in one gulp. The characters are interesting and well developed, the plot twists surprising enough to keep you interested and the settings well-established. It IS "traditional" in that most of the people, places and events are in the classic mode for "Sword & Sorcery" fantasy, but that is a strength in my opinion. The only complaint that I would have is that it is coming out as a hard-cover which is going to make it price-y for the average consumer. That's not Mr. Duncan's fault though. I recommend purchase, and if you can't afford it, make large hints for Christmas, or request it at your school or public library.
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