Swordspoint: A Melodrama of Manners Mass Market Paperback – 1 Jan 2003
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|Mass Market Paperback, 1 Jan 2003||
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" [Kushner] draws you through the story with such lucid, powerful writing that you come to trust her completely--and she doesn' t let you down...Watch this woman--she' s going to be one of the great ones."
--Orson Scott Card
"[Kushner] draws you through the story with such lucid, powerful writing that you come to trust her completely--and she doesn't let you down...Watch this woman--she's going to be one of the great ones."
--Orson Scott Card
"There is an element of high romance to Kushner's work, but it is honed to a bleeding edge by a deep appreciation of what motivates men and women. These are fantasies for adults, with the pang of real love and loss in them, sometimes surprisingly violent, sometimes breathtakingly tender, and sometimes very passionate indeed." --Realms of Fantasy
[Kushner] draws you through the story with such lucid, powerful writing that you come to trust her completely--and she doesn t let you down...Watch this woman--she s going to be one of the great ones.
--Orson Scott Card
"There is an element of high romance to Kushner s work, but it is honed to a bleeding edge by a deep appreciation of what motivates men and women. These are fantasies for adults, with the pang of real love and loss in them, sometimes surprisingly violent, sometimes breathtakingly tender, and sometimes very passionate indeed." --Realms of Fantasy"
Award-winning author Ellen Kushner's classic of modern fantasy, set in a world of unforgettable characters whose political ambitions, passionate love affairs and age-old rivalries collide with deadly results. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
_Swordspoint_ transports us back in time (with a little bit of a shift) to a City that is recognizable as London (somewhat in disguise), in an era roughly equivalent to the 18th century (or perhaps the late 17th). The action centers on the personal and professional adventures of the duellist Richard St. Vier, whose career and romantic attachments draw him into a proverbial web of political intrigue and socio-economic conflict. By the time the story reaches its climax, the entire City -- hoi polloi and beau monde alike -- will be embroiled in the events that circle around St. Vier and his emotionally troubled lover.
Kushner assembles a cast of wonderful characters (she particularly succeeds in creating gay heroes who aren't tokens or caricatures). She also brings to her story a complex, textured plot and, equally important, a delightfully wicked prose style just bursting with mordant humor and piquant observations. In fact, I remember when I first heard Kushner on the radio (she currently hosts the "Sound and Spirit" segment on NPR), I barely made the connection. On the air, she sounds like such a kind and nurturing person that it's hard to believe that the same individual could write in a way that's so gleefully decadent and dark in tone.
On the whole, _Swordspoint_ takes the fencing excitement and the political tensions of a book like Sabatini's _Scaramouche_, mixes it with the sexual entanglements of Choderlos de Laclos's _Dangerous Liaisons_, spices it up with the social commentary of an Oscar Wilde... then, as if that weren't enough, adds a quality all its own.Read more ›
First published in 1987, Ellen Kushner's _Swordspoint_ is a rich example of what SF/F circles sometimes called 'interstitial fiction', a sort of confluence of fantasy with modernism. While a lot of such books plump for modern or near-modern settings, Kushner's glittering world looks a little farther back for its inspiration, if not so far back as most conventional fantasy - to Regency England (broadly speaking). The society is a highly stratified one, according to birth and economic standing (and to some extent by gender, within the classes). This is mirrored in a division of civic space: the noble families (a council from whose number rule the city) live in the elevated reaches of the Hill; everyone else crowds into the alleys and decaying tenements of Riverside. The scope for moving between the two is limited. Riversiders go up to the Hill as servants, while the nobles sometimes slum it in Riverside for insalubrious entertainment and dodgy dealings.
The protagonists, Richard and Alec, are two characters who cross this boundary rather more frequently - if with little greater ease - than most. Richard is a swordsman, in considerable demand among the nobility for duelling 'challenges' (effectively contract killings), and prized for his efficiency and discretion in such matters. Alec, meanwhile, is a (former) student of the University with a noble's demeanour, although he remains cagey about his background. They're also lovers, and live together openly in Riverside, sexuality - at least for men - being one of the few areas in society that is relatively unconstrained.Read more ›
As mentioned earlier, the characters of "Swordspoint" are superbly drawn. Richard and his lover Alec are more like anti-heroes than anything else--one is in effect a hired killer, although not without his own sense of honor, ; the other is acid-tongued and emotionally troubled, at the same time needy and vicious--and yet the author manages to create a startling sympathy for them. Even Alec's morbid obsessions are, in a strange sense, preferable to the refined intrigues of the upper class, the chess players living on "the Hill" who move Richard and the other Riversiders about as though they are mere possessions. Michael Godwin, the young nobleman who takes up swordwork as a bored hobby and finds himself learning in earnest, is a fine counterpoint to Richard's world-weary attitude: for Michael, seeing his teacher before his eyes is traumatic; for Richard, it's only part of a swordsman's life.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Genuinely great characters, witty and well-written. One of the most absorbing relationships in fantasy fiction, you really do root for them rather than end up skimming the cliche... Read morePublished on 19 Sept. 2012 by great_nessula
Ellen Kushner's debut novel set in the Riverside series, which consists of three other novels and half-dozen short stories. Read morePublished on 17 Oct. 2011 by Eden
Having just read Lynn Flewelling's wonderful Nightrunner books, I noticed that a lot of readers who enjoyed those, also enjoyed this novel - so decided to try it. Read morePublished on 12 July 2011 by Kristie Macknight
As the title suggests, I really enjoyed this book. The characters were interesting and believable. Especially the characters of Alec and Richard. Read morePublished on 27 May 2010 by Larewen Evenstar
(I am not a native speaker, please overlook my style)
Many reviewers have pointed out this to be rather a Regency novel than a fantasy and they are quite right: there is... Read more
We ave here an exquisite blend of modern pre-revolutionary ages motives who were the pivotal issues of novels like Dangerous Liaisons (but Diane Tremontaine is at a time less... Read morePublished on 4 Mar. 2003 by Ventura Angelo
... it is very easy to step into the swing of things and you soon feel like you know the characters well. Read morePublished on 18 Feb. 2003 by Winter Hathaway
'Swordspoint' feels like Alexandre Dumas more than Anne McCaffrey. It was loaned to me by a friend who told me this was the best book about fencing ever. And she was right. Read morePublished on 14 July 2002 by Fabrisse
This book wants to be Dumas. It wants to be Dangerous Liaisons. It wants to be a faery tale. It wants to be a tale of love. Read morePublished on 4 Sept. 1999