Reluctant Swordsman Hardcover – 15 Feb 1990
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About the Author
Dave Duncan, born in Scotland in 1933, is a Canadian citizen. He received his diploma from Dundee High School and got his college education at the University of Saint Andrews. He moved to Canada in 1955, where he still lives with his wife. He has three grown children and four grandchildren. He spent thirty years as a petroleum geologist. He has had dozens of fantasy and science fiction novels published, among them"A Rose-Red City," "Magic Casement," and"The Reaver Road," as well as a highly praised historical novel, "Daughter of Troy," published, for commercial reasons, under the pseudonym Sarah B. Franklin. He also published the Longdirk series of novels, "Demon Sword," "Demon Knight," and"Demon Rider," under the name Ken Hood.In the fall of 2007, Duncan s 2006 novel, "Children of Chaos," published by Tor Books, was nominated for both the Prix Aurora Award and the Endeavour Award. In May 2013, Duncan, a 1989 founding member of SFCanada, was honored by election as a lifetime member by his fellow writers, editors, and academics. His website is www.daveduncan.com." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
I am pleased to say that my recollection of this being a good book was not a rose tinted one and combined with my lack of recollection of the story has made this a great re-read especially by being able to re-experience its wonder rather than simply remember its retelling.
I believe that this falls towards the low fantasy spectrum category of the genre, in that magic exists, or rather miracles are worked, in the World but the nature of their performance by the gods is one of such careful and subtle precision that they can, with little difficulty, be explained away with some rationality. In fact some of the impious characters, and even our hero, choose not to acknowledge them or are simply blind to them by either a lack of faith or baser human nature. As a result the god's careful crafting of miracles (or the author's use of them if you prefer) mean that they rarely truly impinge on the lives of the characters and thus the story can proceed within relatively normal parameters, with the real oddities being cultural in the seemingly barbaric yet strangely somewhat ordered world that our hero finds himself in.Read more ›
We barely scrape at the varied peoples that must inhabit it, as this story is focused heavily on the elite priests and swordsmen, and it is here that we see the most nuanced politics and social manoeuvrings, which are highly immersive.
Worthy of note is the way the society is strictly organised by rank, with every profession starting at first (apprentice) and progressing to the lofty heights of seventh (a grand master).
There are more spiritual elements in the tale than I expected, and what I found even more surprising were that the deity parts worked well, even when our own modern world was discussed by them. This could easily have been a jarring change to the narrative, but it is handled well. Other reviewers have compared the religious elements to works by CS Lewis but I found them less didactic and more interesting than that.
Where the story did hit the wrong note for me was, ironically, in the swordplay - something of a shame as these obviously form the basis of most of the "action" scenes. Unfortunately, the author chose to shoehorn in modern foil fencing as the core martial discipline, which will seem rather implausible to anyone that has made a study of historical swordplay. So, we have an elite cadre of warriors who all train using foil, that is weighted to match their proper battle swords.Read more ›
Here is a fantasy that does not fit into the stereotypical faux medieval fold. Instead, Duncan creates a convincing alternate universe that is filled with a geography, flora and fauna that are convincingly "other". He creates a whole culture within this world that is not just ripped off from european or japanese cultures, as so many writers do. Instead he invents a world that works on its own merits, and has a culture that makes you want to explore it.
And then he drops into this rich and diverse world a hero character that is - as the title suggests - reluctant. Ripped from a dull life on our world he finds himself put into this other world by a god calling himself just "Shorty". He has a task to do that only he can fulfill - but his journey of discovery to fulfill the task is long, arduous and very very interesting.
Yet despite the apparent flippancy of the god, Shorty, there is something deep going on in this story too. The book repays reflection, as it allows you to think of issues such as free will, miracles, science and magic, love and friendship, slavery, and the power of information.
I have no idea whether the author intended it to be a theological work, but one can certainly find many of the themes that C S Lewis would put into his works in this book and the sequels.
I would love to see a role playing game adapted from this book too. It would be a welcome changed from the Dungeons and Dragons games, but already has a concept of set professions.
But whatever angle you take, my recommendation is the same. read this book. It is worth it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fantastic story. Great characters. Superb plot. Cannot wait to start book two. Purchased it half way through reading the current one.Published 19 months ago by David Cox
I read different things on my kindle than I would hard copy as I like to listen to them while driving. Read morePublished on 10 Oct. 2013 by Bubbles
A NOVEL OF HEROIC PROPORTIONS
A FEW SMALL MISTAKES RE EARTH HISTORY
WHICH THE WORLD WOULD NOT KNOW ABOUT
OTHERWISE AN EXELENT READ
I read these books some time ago and I loved them, so much so that the books have been enjoyed by most people I know. Read morePublished on 12 Jun. 2013 by CP Sennett
A cracking rollercoaster of a novel with its feet firmly in the tradtion of the swords and sorcery classics but its head in the clouds of clever plotting and fresh ideas.Published on 11 Jun. 2013 by Mr. Matthew R. Hollands
This book stays with you. Haunts with its ideas and the very humanness of the people in the World of this fantasy. Read morePublished on 12 Feb. 2013 by Naztraveller