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Lincoln's Sword Mass Market Paperback – 27 Jul 2010

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From the Back Cover

The union is doomed, its death foretold in the fever dreams of Mary Todd Lincoln . . .

As a great nation's destiny is being written in blood on the battlefields of Pea Ridge and Shiloh, a grim tomorrow is foreseen by a deeply troubled first lady and interpreted by her best friend, Mercy, herself an accomplished seer. But hope appears out of the mist with the arrival of Thomas, a mysterious stranger with an astonishing mastery over time and space. Against the backdrop of the Civil War's greatest events, these three must join together to salvage a future with the aid of unlikely collaborators: the uncannily gifted Confederate captain Cole Younger, his notorious career as a bank robber as yet undetermined, and President Lincoln himself, called upon to willingly make the ultimate sacrifice.

And the key to their desperate endeavor lies in a mysterious image from Mrs. Lincoln's tortured visions--a magical sword which, when wielded, will bring redemption . . . or destruction.

About the Author

Debra Doyle has a doctorate in English literature. Together, she and James Macdonald have written numerous sf/f books. They live in Colebrook, New Hampshire.

James D. Macdonald was in the Navy for more than fourteen years, both enlisted and as an officer, before he cashed out and started writing.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Changing the Past 3 Dec. 2011
By Arthur W Jordin - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Lincoln's Sword (2010) is the second Fantasy Alternate History novel in this universe, following Land of Mist and Snow. In the previous volume, Sharps discovered missing pages of the Grey Book and captured a spirit of the air. Columbia studied the mystic arts under Sharps.

Nevis received orders assigning him to the USS Nicodemus as head of the gunnery department. He joined his ship at the Thule Shipyard. The ship was freed from the ice and traveled along the coastline toward the harbor. Nevis escorted Columbia to the ship and it sailed away from the harbor looking for blockade runners.

In this novel, Thomas is a man who can travel through time within his own lifespan. His body is physical, but cannot be killed within other time periods.

Richard Butler is a Major-General in the US Army. He is second in command to General St. Clair in an expedition against the Shawnee and other tribes near the Wabash River.

Mercy Levering is a woman with several magical talents. She is also a friend of Mary.

Mary Todd is a seeress. Her talent is so strong that she cannot avoid the visions.

Kevin Mulcahey is an Irishman serving as a private in the US Army. He is a friend of Padraich Connor, who is also Irish.

Thomas Coleman Younger is a Lieutenant in the Missouri Militia. Cole rides with Quantrill's Raiders.

Albert Pike is a Confederate General. He commands three regiments of Cherokee cavalry.

In this story, Thomas is living in Lee's Summit, Missouri, in 1916. He is old and doesn't timeshift much anymore. He has never met another with this ability. He reminisces about his life to date.

In 1791, General Butler is trying to persuade his commander to extend the pickets. St. Clair has a poor opinion of the frontier militiamen and doesn't want to put them too far from the camp. Butler believes that the scouts know more about the enemy than General St. Clair, but is forced to keep the pickets in close.

The indians attack at dawn the following day. General Butler is badly wounded in the fighting and is probably dying. He gives his sword to a lieutenant with orders to take it to his brothers.

In 1834, everybody tells Mercy's mother that she has a gift. When she is eleven, she draws a circle on her slate with chalk and causes a girl to fall flat on her face in a mud puddle. When she is seventeen, Mercy makes a doll and carries it next to her heart for a month and a man dances only with her for the whole month.

In 1840, Mercy is close to being a spinster in Baltimore. She writes about her feelings in a letter to her brother. He invites her stay with his family in Springfield, Illinois.

Mercy meets Mary Todd in Springfield and decides that they should be good friends. Mary is driven by strong emotions caused by her visions. Mercy provides compassion and counsel. When Mary becomes engaged to Abraham Lincoln, Mercy suggests that she tell her finance about her talent.

Lincoln breaks the engagement soon afterward. Mercy feels that the situation is her fault. She performs a ritual to bring the pair back together again.

In 1862, Kevin is burning a rebel camp in Belmont, Missouri. He finds a dead rebel officer and takes the valuables, including a sword. He tries to shine the sword, but the blood stains always return.

Later, Kevin and Padraich are foraging for their company. They find a small farm with two cows and a crying woman washing a bloody shirt. They discover a wounded and unconscious man in the house. They take the cows and a loaf of bread from the farm, leaving promissory notes.

In 1862, Quantrill has closed down operations for the winter, so Cole is riding with the regulars at Pea Ridge in Arkansas. The nights are so cold that he wonders whether leaving Quantrill was a good idea. Thomas appears one night and leads him to General Pike.

Pike and Thomas teach Cole the fundamentals of the mystic arts during a late night session. Thomas tells him that more skills can be developed with a period of peace and quiet. Cole uses these techniques to help him sleep.

Afterward, Cole goes on a mission for Quantrill in which he pretends to have the touch. He is asked by a Federal officer to determine if a boy is working with the rebels. Cole recognizes the boy as a courier for the rebels. Then he learns that he can feel the boy's moods, but he tells the Union officer that the boy is innocent.

This tale brings Cole and Mercy together in their dreams. They don't meet in the flesh until 1875. After their mental and physical merging, Cole finds himself developing new powers.

Recommended for Doyle & MacDonald fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of various magics, American history, and time travel. Read and enjoy!

-Arthur W. Jordin
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A welcome return 19 Sept. 2010
By D. G. Hulan - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
It's good to see a new book by Doyle and Macdonald - maybe they've had some other books out under pseudonyms, but as far as I can see on Amazon this is the first thing under their own names since 2006. It's not, unfortunately, one of their best - enjoyable, but there seem to be a lot of things left out that would make it make more sense. It's an alternate Civil War that roams about in time between 1791 and 1916, with Cole Younger as the central character of most of the chapters. Mary Todd Lincoln is a seer who has visions of terrible futures, and her friend Mercy Levering Conkling is an accomplished mage, as are a couple of other people who are historical personages but none of whom actually had any such powers even if you believe they might exist. The hard thing for me to figure out is how Lincoln's not being assassinated at the time he was in our time-line would have led to independence for the CSA, when Lee's army had already surrendered and Union forces were in control of virtually the entire South already. I don't say it couldn't have happened, but there ought to have been something in the book indicating how it worked out. There's a chapter set in 1875 or so that has Younger traveling in an independent Confederacy, and referring to Lincoln as having served out his second term and currently living in an obscure retirement, but nothing about how this resulted in CSA independence. I don't even require that it be very plausible, but some explanation seems to me to be in order; there's not even a hand-wave. And it also seems rather implausible that it would have been such a disaster if the CSA had achieved independence, although at least they did make a hand-wave to the effect that the CSA wasn't strong enough to last as a nation, and the Union would also eventually collapse as well without the South. Certainly neither country would be as powerful as the USA was as a united country in our time-line, but failure to be a superpower isn't the same thing as failure to be an independent country - if it were countries like the Netherlands and Sweden and Brazil and Australia and Canada wouldn't be around, either. Still, an interesting and well-written book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read 12 Sept. 2010
By Shroud Magazine's Book Reviews - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As brother battles brother in a war that will decide the fate of the nation, a man strides through time and space in order to guide history into its proper course by placing a symbolic blade into the right hands. Lincoln's Sword, the latest historical fantasy by Debra Doyle and James D. MacDonald (authors of Land of Mist and Snow), presents the events of the Civil War through the lenses of symbolism and magic.

Confederate officer Cole Younger is rushed through rites of initiation into "esoteric disciplines" at the urging of a mysterious stranger. Mercy Levering, a talented practitioner of ritual magic, provides comfort to her friend and confidant, Mary Todd Lincoln. Mary is a sibyl, beset with visions of a country covered in the blood and smoke of disunion, as well as those of a mystic sword that is vital to bringing the nation together once again. Both Cole and Mercy are recruited by Mr. Thomas, an enigmatic figure with the ability to travel through both time and space, to ensure that the sword gets into the hands of President Lincoln in an effort to manipulate the events of history to fall into the proper pattern.

The main problem with this otherwise fine novel is the handling of the titular sword. While obviously symbolic of the sacrifice needed to form the Union, it is more often treated as merely a MacGuffin. Its true purpose and the reasons for its importance are ambiguous at best and, in the end, it only serves as the focus of Thomas' various machinations. Setting that aside, the novel's tight pace and multiple points of view keep the reader interested throughout. Further, the use of mysticism and magic within the historical period are handled with a light touch and do not overwhelm the overall story. In the balance, Lincoln's Sword is a good read.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 1 star is too many! 18 Mar. 2013
By JMH - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Absolutely terrible book. It wants to be building up to something big with this powerful sword, but completely fails to do so. One of the main characters, Mr. Thomas, suffers from a similar problem: the authors want him to be more grand than they managed to make him, so he ends up being a questionable character, and that's before the inherent time-travel paradox. Absolutely no reason is given for why Abraham Lincoln has to "make the ultimate sacrifice" in order to prevent some terrible future from unfolding.

If the authors intend to write any more books, they really should stick to telling tales within their abilities, because attempting something grand made for a dreadful read. Please, can I have those couple hours of my life back?
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Up to Normal Doyle & MacDonald Standards 25 Sept. 2010
By William Bentrim - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Lincoln's Sword by Debra Doyle and James D. MacDonald

This is a time skipping novel depicting incidents that impacted the Civil War and influenced Abraham Lincoln.

I intended to really enjoy this book as I was enamored with the Mage World Series done by the same authors. The book is billed as an alternate history of the Civil War. This book was as satisfying as a tofu burger, much ado but little or no substance. My first inclination is to blame the editors as the book bounces hither and thither through time with very little clear connection between events. It read as more of an outline than a book. You recognize the skill of the story tellers and it is as if they are teasing you by wafting the aromatic inklings of a good book and failing to deliver. This book is a disappointment.

If you consider this a short story as opposed to a novel I recommend it but this truly is Doyle and MacDonald light as opposed to the fulfilling work you probably expect from them.
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