For a game, the gods have given the world 12 Swords of Power so that they might be amused as the nations battle for their possession. But Vulcan the Smith has had his own little joke: the Swords can kill the gods themselves. What started out as Divine Jest has become all too serious as the gods fight to recover the Swords, and mortals discover that the mantle of power is more delicious and more terrible than anything they could have imagined.
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I first read the original Swords books as a teenager many years ago. I have fond memories of them, particularly the way Saberhagen blends typical fantasy tropes with a science-fiction backstory. I was somewhat reluctant to download these titles, as so many of the books I read in my teens now seem flat and one-dimensional. Not these. The Swords books still feel fresh and new. Not all of the characters are fully developed, but the dialog is crisp, and the pacing is sure. On top of everything else the author's worldbuilding is superb, taking what could be just a run of the mill role-playing game premise and making it come alive and left me wanting more.
I've not used the word HUGE out of context whatsoever, and I consider this particular Audiobook some of the best fantasy listening you'll experience this year, and perhaps ever. Yes, we're only in late February, for God's sake. So, want to know more? Read on.
Here's why all the heavy breathing.
I have hoped and prayed for a very long time that Saberhagen's Swords series would one day be available at Audible.
Get ready - For the very first time in SCORES of reviews, I will give teasers and a bit of the plot. If you read my reviews, you know I usually NEVER do this. Why now? Again, this is HUGE. Trust me, you're going to like where this is going.
Imagine that in this sweeping epic's opening story, the god Vulcan forges twelve terrible swords of supernatural might, otherworldly steel twisted into power, born of fire pulled from earth's very core, and each sword's white heat quenched screaming in mortal blood.
Each of these swords is birthed with a unique supernatural ability to bend the future of worlds. For example, Sightblinder crafts the looks of whoever holds it friendly to the wearer's enemies, Coinspinner warps luck, and possibly fate, to the advantage of the bearer...or perhaps instead toward its own mysterious agenda. And so on. These swords are so powerful, that many of them can best even the very Gods themselves. Each unique. Each on its own journey. Each with its own dark purpose in changing the world. Both gods and mortals will be their pawns, and the blood that quenched each sword was only the beginning. Men will be as Gods, and Gods will be brought low to mortality.
Vulcan quietly places these world-changing weapons across the landscape, in the hands of unwitting pawns. Pawns, because each of these swords have a mind of its own, and although the wielder of each sword feels they control the weapon, the sword will have its due and its day. Some travel from person to person, seeking a special purpose with a specific soul. Others lie in wait, quietly patient, and will shake the very heavens when the time is right.
Thus, an epic war begins, and although it starts quite small, it will challenge the heavens, and test the very world itself.
See why I'm excited? That's just the OPENING of this twelve book series. I've given NOTHING away. Nothing. It's that HUGE. Yes, there's that word again, and it FITS. I consider this work as essential as Jordan's Wheel of Time series, and also Erikson's Mazalan Book of the Fallen series. It's very different from both, but equally important.
Some of you have probably already downloaded this very first in the Swords series, and don't need this review to dive in. You already KNOW how awesome this series truly is, and where it will take you.
For the rest of you, this is the doorway to a world-spanning epic that Saberhagen lovingly crafted decades ago. And it's finally arrived at Audible. So, there's only one thing left to do...
Step through the doorway, listener. Your sword awaits!