- Paperback: 576 pages
- Publisher: Orbit (4 Nov. 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1857237404
- ISBN-13: 978-1857237405
- Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 3.6 x 17.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 872,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Swordsman's Oath: Book Two: The Tales of Einarinn (Second Tale of Einarinn) Paperback – 4 Nov 1999
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A wonderful debut (J.V. Jones)
A well written and impressive debut (TIME OUT)
A fine novel ... an extremely promising debut (BLACK TEARS)
Involving and fast-moving ... a very promising debut (STARBURST)
Fast-paced fantasy adventure from a brilliant new voice in the genreSee all Product description
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There's a related story -- the story of a colony that grew up around the time of the demise of the Tomalarin(sp?) Empire. The colony settled on a group of islands but the colony failed.
I stopped reading half way through as it was becoming a formula. I've read 3 of McKenna's books (Southern Fire, Northern Storm and The Thief's Gamble). Whilst the plots may differ slightly, the books are as formulaic as a Bond film (i.e. certain events seem to keep happening). What makes things worse is that, as the books are done in series, so you can't escape reading the same story, in essence, again and again to complete the overall story.
I would say read one or two of her books, as they are pretty good on their own, but only read the lot if you're a die hard fan.
McKenna makes an interesting switch in the active character viewpoints. Where Livak was the main active viewpoint in the first book, in this book we switch to Ryshad. His is the first person viewpoint, with the added third person viewpoints of Temar and Planir. Temar's story was and the way it ties into the plot was very interesting and illuminated a lot about Tormalin history. However, is did take me a bit to realise they were set in the past, which caused a bit of confusion in the beginning, but once I realised the time line shift, I kept looking forward to returning to this part of the narrative. Getting used to being inside Ryshad's head instead of Livak was remarkably easy and probably facilitated by the fact that Ryshad is a very likeable character, with a good sense of humour. I liked that we got to see the emotional consequences of events in the first book, as Ryshad deals with his grief. There was a good mix of the return of familiar characters, such as Shiv and some of the other wizards and additions of new ones, such as Halice, Temar, Laio and the old wizard Viltred. At the same time, as we've already seen in The Thief's Gambit, McKenna isn't afraid to lose characters, some in rather permanent ways, ensuring that the reader has to keep on her toes and can never be sure about a character's continued survival.
As with The Thief's Gambit, we get world building not just through the narrative but by letters, reports and similar pieces of texts interspersed throughout the book. These give us a historical perspective on what's going on in the 'contemporary' story. I love this way of adding depth to a world and a society and I really enjoyed them. It also makes me wonder about the background information McKenna must have written out before starting her story and how this changed or evolved as she expanded the series with new sequences--she's currently up to fifteen books spread over four sequences. The part of the book where Ryshad visits the Aldabreshin isles was my favourite part. I loved the society McKenna created for the Aldabreshin and the complete alienation Ryshad feels living there. It's made me look forward to the second trilogy set in the world of Einarinn, The Aldabreshi Compass, where we'll find out far more about this island culture. In addition to the Aldabreshi isles, we also get to (re)discover an entire new continent with our protagonist, the one where centuries before Temar and his companions founded the Kel Ar'Ayen settlement. The parts set in the colony were adventurous and action-filled and I really liked both the scenes set in the past and in the now.
One aspect of this book needs to be mentioned specifically: McKenna's female characters. With a lot of attention and debate on the lack of strong female characters and the treatment of female characters in current genre fiction going on, McKenna's females shine forth as beacons of independence and strength. Even in the Aldabreshi isles, where Warlords have several wives, these wives wield power of their own and have goals and ideals independent of their husband. And they're not 'modern' examples, The Thief's Gambit and The Swordsman's Oath are over a decade old. So that leaves the question, did female characters degrade in the past decade or are there more examples that are simply overlooked?
The Swordsman's Oath was a great sequel, no middle book syndrome here, and is a good tale on its own. I really enjoyed it and I'm so glad I discovered Juliet E. McKenna's books. I can't wait to get my hands on the next part of these Tales, as I want to find out how the recolonization will go and how Temar will deal with his new situation. And of course what choices Ryshad will make once he reaches Zyoutessela and how the struggle against the Elietimm will pan out. Ms McKenna's latest, The Darkening Skies, book two in The Hadrumal Crisis is out next week from Solaris, and I have a lot of catching up to do before I can start that. My next McKenna read will be The Gambler's Fortune, just as soon as I can get my hands on the book!
The setting -already a realistic and detailed world- is expanded as the action moves from the main continent (which is akin to early-modern Europe) to the Aldabrashin Archipelago. The Archipelago has more of an Eastern feel, though it's different enough to our own world that it felt original, it was certainly different from other fantasy settings.
I also liked that parts of the book took place in a period long before current adventure. As a history fan I liked seeing the juxtaposition of two time periods, and I'm impressed by McKenna's craft that she was able to create and convincingly convey such a sense of history in an entirely fictional setting.
The plot took a few unexpected twists and turns (I certainly never expected the Aldabrashin section), but never did the sequence of events feel contrived - except where powerful characters were pulling strings, of course.
This is and isn't a follow on from from TG.. The main character in the novel is a minorish one in TG and the major character from TG is a minor one in this...
The world is the same, but the situations have changed and advanced, meaning that you won't be lost if you read this book 1st, but I think you would benefit from reading TG 1st...
All in all this is an absorbing peice of high fantasy from an author who I am sure will become highly respected for the quality and ingenuity of her work, her ability to take old ideas and weave them in new ways to make them feel fresh....
If you enjoy thoughtful fantasy then do youself a favour and get this or (well and) TG and settle in to have a good read.
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