Wednesday, 29 November 2000

Juliet E. McKenna: The Swordsman's Oath (1999)

Edition: Orbit, 1999
Review number: 693

The second of Juliet McKenna's trilogy is rather a repeat of the first, with much the same group of characters making their way across the world she has invented to try to discover more about the attackers who threaten to overwhelm it. The Elietimm, as these attackers are named, use and entirely different and almost unknown form of magic, and that is what makes them formidable enemies, with their single-minded ruthlessness.

The main difference in this novel is that we learn a lot more about the events six hundred years in the past which led to the downfall of a huge empire and the general abandonment of etheric magic. Part of the narrative is in fact set in the past, and is the main flaw in an otherwise excellent fantasy novel: it is insufficiently distinguished from the main story, which makes things a little confusing to begin with. (Clearer headings for the sections set in the days of the Empire would be a big help.)

The setting and characterisation remain as strong as in The Thief's Gamble, and I eagerly look forward to the conclusion of the trilogy.

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