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By the Sword (Repairman Jack Novels) Mass Market Paperback – 4 Aug 2009

3.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 454 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (4 Aug. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765356333
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765356338
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 3.2 x 17.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 265,597 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"More violent and complex than its predecessors, ["By the Sword"] serves up the occult thrills fans of Wilson's series have come to expect and tantalizes with the promise of more surprises to come."
--"Publishers Weekly
""Wilson remains in top form with "By The Sword," which receives my highest recommendation."

More violent and complex than its predecessors, ["By the Sword"] serves up the occult thrills fans of Wilson's series have come to expect and tantalizes with the promise of more surprises to come.

""Wilson remains in top form with "By The Sword," which receives my highest recommendation."

More violent and complex than its predecessors, ["By the Sword"] serves up the occult thrills fans of Wilson's series have come to expect and tantalizes with the promise of more surprises to come. "Publishers Weekly"

Wilson remains in top form with "By The Sword," which receives my highest recommendation. "Fearzone""

About the Author

F. Paul Wilson is the "New York Times" bestselling author of horror, adventure, medical thrillers, science fiction, and virtually everything in between. His books include the Repairman Jack novels, including "Ground Zero," "The Tomb," and "Fatal Error"; the Adversary cycle, including "The Keep"; and a young adult series featuring the teenage Jack. Wilson has won the Prometheus Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the Inkpot Award from the San Diego ComiCon, and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Horror Writers of America, among other honors. He lives in Wall, New Jersey.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
I loved the way that this book brought back characters from, originally, a seperate novel entirely. The storyline is very strong and it made me go and obtain the book that this references.
F Paul Wilson has obviously planned the way the Repairman Jack storyline is going to finish. The stories from other books not originally related to The Adversary storyline is compelling.
A typical F Paul Wilson book which I read in about a week which, for me, is extremely quick as I have been reading a Robert Ludlum novel for about 4 months!!!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Typical Repairman Jack Does not disappoint more violent than usual
This really is one of the best characters in modern fiction
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Format: Hardcover
First I should begin by explaining that I have loved the work of F Paul Wilson since I read The Keep back when I was 13. I am now 36 so that is quite a long time... I have read the entire adversary cycle repeatedly and have signed and numbered hardback editions of the entire series. I have also bought and read everything in the Repairman Jack series, (not including the junior editions). So you could suggest I am a fan.

By the Sword therefore comes as a massive disappointment. It would appear that in creating his 'Universe' for his works, he is using it more and more to upsell his back catalogue and less and less to tell new and gripping stories. Just because he has written a decent sized body of work does not excuse writing new books that do not reference the old ones. It is an extremely sad situation when an author cannot let go and move on. Most of this book is a sly excuse at marketing Black Wind (his 'lost' novel) and I am beginning to tire of the repetitive nature of his rehashing the intertwining histories of his characters. Also becoming more tiresome is the rather less than imaginative situations that Jack finds himself in, not to mention his run of the mill solutions to them.
For an author as capable as Wilson, this only serves to inform me as a long time fan as to his next title: Repairman Jack - The Big Sell Out. All the constant talk of a movie franchise only makes this more and more likely. Shame on you, Mr Wilson
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars 65 reviews
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jack: "Looks like we've got a John Woo situation here." 18 Oct. 2008
By H. Bala - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jack's back, and I'm all kinds of happy. For those new to this series, F. Paul Wilson has created one of the most fascinating protagonists in fictiondom. Repairman Jack is a paranoid urban mercenary, his distrust of the government having caused him to live off the grid. No tax records, no social security number, no lawful standing, none of that. When a wrong needs to be righted, you call the police or the fire department or your attorney. But if something really, really effed-up is going down and the devil is grinning at you, that's when you call Repairman Jack. Because he'll fix it, whatever it is. For a sizable fee.

It's not his fault that, more often than not, Jack gets plonked neck-deep in frightening paranormal adventures. But he's pretty good at pushing back at the darkness. Actually, he doesn't push back as much as belligerently shove at the darkness.

SPOILERS now (and also SPOILERS for those who haven't yet read Bloodline: A Repairman Jack Novel (Repairman Jack)):

A month after the events in BLOODLINE, Jack is still reeling from his finding out that his genetic makeup, in part, originates back to the malevolent cosmic entity known as the Otherness. BY THE SWORD begins with a stroll in Central Park and with Jack finally getting a close face-to-face with the old man who had been stalking him in previous novels. The resulting chit-chat enables Jack to learn some invaluable things.

Not too long after, Jack is hired to recover a stolen ruined katana, a gig which seemed doable enough. Naturally, it quickly gets complicated. Several entities are also after this sword, including the Yakuza and a long-thought extinct cult called the Order of the Hidden Face. The fanatical Kickers movement is back (from BLOODLINE), with its leader Hank Thompson also interested in the katana, even as he continues to hunt down the vanished Dawn Pickering, a pregnant 18-year-old girl (also from BLOODLINE). Dawn's unborn child, we learn, will play a key role in determining the fate of the world. As BY THE SWORD unfolds, the search for Dawn gains equal fervency as with the race for the broken-down katana.

It culminates with a bloodbath and Jack desperately attempting to save New York from supernatural darkness. All in a night's work.

A bit of a segue now. Longtime fans of Repairman Jack know that he first appeared in The Tomb (Adversary Cycle/Repairman Jack), a 1984 occult thriller which falls into the six-book Adversary Cycle, which is set in the backdrop of an eons-long war between two cosmic forces, the indifferent Ally and the malignant Otherness. The Adversary Cycle, by the way, then falls into Wilson's even broader, more all-encompassing Secret History of the World saga. F. Paul Wilson had originally intended Jack to be featured only in THE TOMB, and in fact had left him near death at the end of that book. However, Jack proved to be so popular that he was brought back for a crucial role in Nightworld (1992), the culmination of the Adversary Cycle. Yet further clamoring and hankering by the fans finally earned the urban mercenary his own ongoing series, in 1998, with the second Repairman Jack novel Legacies: A Repairman Jack Novel (Repairman Jack).

Here's the thing: all the Repairman Jack novels which follow THE TOMB are recountings of his adventures leading up to the apocalyptic events in NIGHTWORLD. We're up to the twelfth entry now, with BY THE SWORD, and, finally, finally, Jack's backstory (retro-continuity?) has caught up enough, chronologically, that certain early events from NIGHTWORLD are now being incorporated into this newest Repairman Jack novel. Readers of NIGHTWORLD will certainly be familiar with the opening Central Park sequence of BY THE SWORD.

As the author mentions in the foreword, Jack's story has advanced to the point now where the end of the overarcing story is in sight. I'm getting pretty dang psyched, especially since Wilson means to release a heavily tweaked version of NIGHTWORLD! But, now, more than ever, it's become more crucial to have read the prior novels. Wilson has stated that story arcs in one novel will now be bleeding into the next one. Case in point, BY THE SWORD features the Kickers and Dawn Pickering, whose story arcs began in BLOODLINE. There are also concrete tie-ins with Black Wind and LEGACIES, as well as fleeting nods to Jack: Secret Histories (Repairman Jack Novels) and to who knows what else I've missed. What's evident is that Wilson gets a kick in linking his novels.

BY THE SWORD is another fine entry in the series, with the terseness of the chapters lending an immediacy to things. And this novel boasts a pretty high body count, what with fanatical monks and relentless Yakuzas thrown into the mix, not to mention Jack himself. Jack does what he does best, as he in the end manipulates the situation so that all the bad guys get their well-deserved comeuppance. What makes Jack so engaging is that he comes off as such an unassuming, regular guy, given that he's existing outside legal boundaries. Until you cross him, of course, and then, well, he'll stomp on you. I really liked his interactions with the old man, Mr. Veilleur (ring any bells?), who by the way can also handle himself some.

Recurring elements of the Repairman Jack mythos are here: the woman with the dog, the "no more coincidences" theme, and Jack's fierce protectiveness of and love for Gia and Vicky, the street-savvy methods he uses to achieve his fix-its (as juxtaposed with the supernatural backdrop), and his massive distrust of the authorities. All the things that, without which, it simply wouldn't be a Repairman Jack adventure.

There are some flaws. Past Repairman Jack thrillers have had Jack engaged in two simultaneous fix-its, one seemingly innocuous, the other more serious and tinged with the supernatural. Here, Wilson veers away from the pattern as Jack gets involved with only one fix-it, the recovery of the katana. Instead, Wilson fills up the pages with respective chapters concerning Dawn Pickering, the Kicker Evolution, the corporate Japanese/Yakuza, and the crazed Kakureta Kao cult. Sucks to say, but not all these story arcs are that interesting. In fact, it was a struggle not to skim thru the chapters dedicated to Dawn Pickering and the Kickers. The other quibble is my usual one, that Jack's sensational lady love Gia and her daughter Vicky aren't featured more. But Wilson uses even the all-too-brief passages with Gia to set the stage for some disturbing foreshadowing. You see, ever since her near fatal accident, Gia has not been quite the same. Just another thing for Jack to feel guilty about.

A Japanese character in the book dubs him an "urban ronin," which certainly sounds more romantic than "urban mercenary." Whatever the case, Repairman Jack is an unforgettable character, and as his timeline careens ever closer to that of NIGHTWORLD, the anticipation in me begins to build and build. I won't begrudge Stephen King his role of President of the Repairman Jack Fan Club. But, man, can I be in the club? I'll even be the guy who just locks up after meetings.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Where are the raisins? 19 Oct. 2008
By Clan Lindsey - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Jack is back in the latest Repairman Jack novel, By the Sword: A Repairman Jack Novel (Repairman Jack), but I have to confess that I don't think this is the strongest book in the series. I have noticed that many mainstream authors have been releasing extremely sub-par novels recently. I'm not sure if it is something in the air or water, or just crass commericalism on the part of publishers and authors, but whatever the reason, a plague upon all their houses. This novel is not horrible, as have been some of the others released this year, but it does show weaknesses and is a wee bit disappointing compared to past adventures with Jack.

I'd say the biggest problem here is that in most Repairman Jack novels, in addition to having a main confrontation between Jack and the forces of Otherness, the books also had a side story or two wherein Jack turns the tables on ordinary criminals with fiendishly clever ploys. For me that was always the best part of the Repairman Jack novels and the most interesting. There isn't such a side story in this book and I really missed it. In fact, while many people may not agree, I feel the whole Otherness/Adversary element of these novels in some ways actually detracts from the books. In my opinion Jack is one of the coolest and most imaginative characters created since Sherlock Holmes and if he was just left free to play urban mercenary he might be my favorite character ever. Nevertheless, the Adversary/Otherness crowd are pushing the time-table and the whole end of the world thing is quite a downer, not just for me the reader, but also for Jack who, after losing friends, family and his unborn child, is not nearly as creative in his mayhem in this outing as he has been in past novels. In fact, all he does in this novel, after some judicious prodding, is get out of the way of three groups of bad guys and let them maul each other. An intelligent choice, but lacking in the finesse and craftiness that makes Jack so interesting in preceding novels. His talent for taking out the bad guys while also delivering unto them their just comeuppence is missing in this book. As the end of the world draws nigh, Jack's stress has mounted and his patience and creativity have waned, and therefore one of my prime elements of Repairman Jack glee is now missing. This book is still OK and I'd rather have read it than not read it, but it was something like an oatmeal raisin cookie that doesn't have any raisins. A plain oatmeal cookie is better than no cookie, but c'mon Mr. Wilson, please put the raisins back into our cookies.

In this novel we still have Dawn, the pregnant girl, and Hank Thompson, leader of the Kicker cult, left from the last book, but Mr. Wilson throws in a Japanese cult with a predilection for self-mutilation, and another Japanese group, The Kaze Group, a corporate organization whose ends are opaque, but whom employs Yakuza assassins to do their dirty work. The event that kickstarts this novel is the theft of an ancient Japanese katana from a farm in Hawaii which the thief transports to NYC. The sword is riddled with holes and apparently worthless but both Japanese groups are vying to get it and the Kickers decide they need it when Hank dreams about it repeatedly. Jack tracks it down, loses it to the cult, and then the novel goes into high gear as the groups battle for both possession of the sword and Dawn.

There were two things about the sword that bothered me that you may notice yourself while you read. The sword is supposedly created by the famous Japanese swordsmith Masamune, partially using metal given him by Glaeken, the champion for the Ally, and partially using more prosaic metal he had laying around. The two metals didn't mix well. The sword is at ground zero in Hiroshima when the atom bomb goes off and the more prosaic metal vaporizes leaving the sword with a swiss cheese look. The first thing that bothers me is how did Masamune, who couldn't create more than 2,000 degrees fahrenheit and one atmosphere of pressure, work the otherworldly metal into a katana if the 30,000 degrees fahrenheit and many atmospheres of pressure at groud-zero couldn't make the metal melt? The other problem is that all the characters who hold it talk about its fabulous balance, but if Masamune made it with two metals, it was then made to be fabulously balanced with both of them. With half the metal gone the sword should have then been unbalanced. These are minor points, but my suspension of disbelief got tangled up on them.

Overall I thought the book was OK, and as I said I'd rather have read it than not, but I hope Mr. Wilson will go back to basics and put the raisins back into his cookies in the future. Even if Jack has to spend all his time battling Otherness there is no reason he can't be gleefully sneaky and clever about it. That after all is what sets Jack apart from a 100 other action heroes. Anyone can shoot the bad guy, but how many action heroes can also think circles around them and trick them into into destroying themselves? I want my tricky Jack back. I want my raisins.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not meant for a casual fan or someone new to the series 12 Nov. 2008
By Redbeard - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I recently finished this novel and was very pleased with the way it answers some questions from the previous Repairman Jack Novels and how it begins to set up the remaining novels that are coming. For those of you who have never read a Repairman Jack novel before, please go back and start with THE TOMB and go from there. I guarantee that you won't be disappointed.

Now on to my assessment of other reviews of this novel. Mr. Wilson succinctly explains at the very beginning of this novel that this novel is not like the rest of his Repairman Jack novels because it is actually more like a serial leading up to the end of the series. I can see why a lot of people have an issue with this novel, because we've become so used to the cast of characters that we've come to know and love in the series. However, Mr. Wilson is using this series now to set up his reworked Nightworld novel.

This is a fun novel. It has action, Ninjas, the Yakuza, utter death and destruction and the usual Jack quips. It also answers who the woman with the dog is and begins to incorporate Glaeken's role leading up to Nightworld. If you've read all of the other Jack Novels you should be able to truly enjoy this one as well.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Intimations into the "Secret History of the World"! (Spoiler Alert) 25 May 2009
By John Parker Marmaro - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I vehemently disagree with many of the reviews on here that accuse this book being not so good or, even, as one wrote, "horrible". I think this is a first-rate Repairman Jack/Secret History entry.

There seem to be two elements among the many which attract readers to this series: there are those who like the "urban mercenary" aspect of the books; and there are those who like the "Mythos" elements, the "Secret History" about the immemorial conflict between "the Ally" and "the Otherness". (A third, and major, attractant, is the wonderful delineation of the character of Jack himself, and the people in whis life-- Gia, Abe, Vicky and Julio.) People more interested in the "urban mercenary" element may not be pleased when the story highlights the "Mythos". I myself am fascinated by the mythos element, which is quite pervasive in this novel.

I LOVED this book: Jack finally meets Glaeken, under the nom de guerre of "Veilleur" (in other words, "Sentinel") and they make a wonderful team. I loved how Wilson deftly has been interweaving so many aspects of his other books into the Repairman Jack/Adversary series, such as, in this installment, elements from BLACK WIND-- the horrifying "Black Wind" itself, and the katana which survived Ground Zero at Hiroshima (and which, I suspect, is made of metal like that in the necklaces of Kusum and Kolabati in THE TOMB aka RAKOSHI). It also brings in one of the most intriguing elements that Wilson has added to the Mythos during the Repairman Jack series, the "Ladies with Dogs", or rather, just "The Lady", (SPOILER ALERT) as Glaeken confirms what has been hinted at throughout, that there is "only one". (And as the Ascendancy of the Otherness due to occur in NIGHTWORLD is said only to be possible with Her death, I am sad to think She will be out of the story, though perhaps Wilson will be able to wangle a way to keep Her with us.) She has manifested already as a middle aged Russian with a malamute, an East Indian lady with a German Shepherd, an elderly Long Island Jewish lady with a Chihuahua, an elderly lady with rheumatoid arthritis with a Rottweiler, an adolescent Caribbean girl with a mastiff-like mixed breed, an elegant Audrey Hepburnesque lady with an akita, an old blind lady with a seeing-eye dog, a twentysomething Goth-type girl with a Pitt Bull, and a voluptuous "Jessica Rabbit-type" knockout with a tiny toy poodle, the latter two in this book. Most of them have occasion to confirm to Jack that "I am your mother," though this has yet to be fully explained. Jack guesses she is the "Earth Mother", to which she replies, "If only it were that simple"-- making me anticipate eagerly the publication of GROUND ZERO in September 2009. The Lady is a third Force in the struggle for Earth' humanity, and this very reality, the only one of the three who is really on the side of the human race. This novel also deals with how her accident has affected Gia, so that she has an intimation of what is coming, and plays with the idea that deja vu is sometimes more than it seems.

Another point to be lauded is the delightful way that Wilson has injected himself in the story (called "P. Frank Winslow"!), as an author who publishes novels very like the Repairman Jack stories themselves, and who gets the ideas for the novels in his dreams-- which are uncannily like what soon after happens in Jack's life.

I must say that I found the previous book, BLOODLINES, to be, not necessarily weaker, but more monochromatic, so to phrase it, than most of the series, dealing as it does with one element almost exclusively -- the introduction of the concept of the "Kickers", and "O-DNA", and Jack's having an exceptionally high amount of it. This is explained more fully in this novel, and some of the history of it is supplied by Glaeken.

All in all, though I love the whole series, I found this novel (along with HOSTS, ALL THE RAGE, GATEWAYS and HARBINGERS), to be especially fine.

From this you can see that am one of those drawn to the Mythos, though I also think Jack is one of the finest characters ever to emerge from popular literature, along with Koontz's "Odd Thomas" (though Jack is an even greater creation, in my opinion).

It will come as no surprise that I highly recommend this book... now I can't wait to read GROUND ZERO!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still Repairman Jack 4 Nov. 2008
By Fred Rayworth - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Okay, I'm going to go against the grain here and give it 5 stars. Yeah, things have kind of drifted from the original novels, but to me, this was still a cool story and I had no problem reading it.

The difference between this one and the others is, to the best of my memory, the inclusion of three different factions (POV wise) besides Jack. That makes for three sets of bad guys which I'll admit, takes up a bit of real estate (pages). As much as I'd like to see Jack do more kicking butt, the extra viewpoints were written well enough that they didn't become Hitler Channel (History Channel) lessons, as some other novels I've read has done with the same type material. In past novels, I don't remember so many major groups taking up as much of the story.

Gia and Abe made appearances, but not as heavy as novels in the past, which I guess has disappointed some of the readers.

Overall, the plot complexities of the series have pushed Jack further and further away from the little fixes he was so loved for. I guess Mr. Wilson has to keep mixing things up to keep the publishers happy, maybe himself too. Since he always had a master plan in mind, we'll just have to deal with it and see where it goes. It has not veered far enough away from the original reasons I loved Jack to stop reading the series.

I loved this story and find it a good companion to the others. It is not like the first novels, but it is well written and kept my interest all the way to the not-quite-resolved conclusion. Still highly recommended.
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