Book Review: The First Book of Swords

The First Book of Swords (Books of Swords, #1)

The First Book of Swords by Fred Saberhagen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You never quite know what you’re going to get when you reread a book you loved as a kid. Sometimes you’re impressed with what wonderful taste you had back then, and sometimes . . . you’d rather forget you ever liked that book to begin with.

I first came across Saberhagen’s Book of Swords series in the public library. I remember thinking the covers were pretty cool (Swords!), and I was definitely in the “I’ll read anything you put in front of me” age. I loved the whole series, though I never really read them in order, because the library continually had one checked out or the other. I remember thinking the magic system was really cool and always wanting to know more about the swords.

So finally I broke down and bought the first book on Kindle, hoping that my fond memories were accurate and justified for once.

I’m ecstatic to say that they were. I finished the entire first book in a day, something which almost never happens for me anymore. The premise is simple: take a standard fantasy world and have the gods of that world create 12 magical swords, each with very specific powers. For example, one can cut through stone as if it were butter. One kills dragons exceptionally well. One makes you very lucky. One helps you find anything you want. The gods take those swords and scatter them through the land, and then they sit back to see what the humans do.

Violence and adventure ensue.

It’s a great start to the series. I loved how the Swords were mysteries to all the characters for the bulk of the book. The gods made them and spread them out, but they never told the humans about them, wanting the humans to find out on their own. And instead of focusing on obscure commoners who end up becoming royalty or supreme magic users, Saberhagen has his protagonists pretty much stay constant through the book. They’re scrappy, and they’ve got a couple of the magic Swords, but they don’t have any other real tools available to help them face their foes.

If you’re looking for a fun series that’s a quick read and has some really cool magic, you should definitely check this one out. I’m already deep into book 2.

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