Friday, December 27, 2019

Swordheart, by T. Kingfisher

Red Wombat Studio, November 2018

This book is set in the world of the Clockwork Boys, about five years later. Halla is a widow who has been acting as housekeeper to her late husband's uncle, Silas. Silas has now died, and the reading of the will reveals the new, as shocking to Halla as to Silas's own relatives, that he has left her his entire estate.

Her husband's cousin Alver, and his mother, Malva, are not prepared to accept this. The only acceptable resolution, at least in their minds, is that Halla marry Alver. Aside from the fact that she has no desire to marry clammy-handed Alver, Halla wants the ability to provide dowries to her own nieces, which clearly won't happen if Malva and Alver control the money.

Locked up in her bedroom until she gives in and agrees, Halla accidentally discovers that part of her inheritance is a magic sword. Imprisoned in it is a long-dead warrior, Sarkis, who is bound to serve whoever is the legitimate owner and wielder of the sword. He's also outraged that it's possible for a woman's in-laws to lock her up and attempt to force her to marry to suit them. He breaks her out, and they head off to possible help.

This is, of course, only the start of their troubles and adventures.

Along the way to, first to Silas's friend Bartholomew in Amalcross, and then to the Temple of the Rat in Archenhold, they meet bandits and priests of the Hanged Mother (roving inquisitors with a nasty attitude), and people who aren't entirely sure about this rather modestly dressed, middle-aged woman, with her (apparently) hired guardsman and her own sword on her back. They have a lot to learn about each other's view of the world. This isn't always helped by Halla's tendency to ask lots of pretty detailed questions under stress, and Sarkis's tendency to favor swords and fire as the most promising solution to any problem.

When they reach the Temple of the Rat, the best source of high-quality, practical legal help, and Zale is assigned as Halla's lawyer, they still have to get back to Rutger's Howe, and a good deal more in the way of adventure. Zale's gnole wagon driver, Brindle, the Vagrant Hills (which, of course, are always to be avoided and not always avoidable), the Rune, unexpected treachery, and unexpected friends and allies, all still lay ahead of them.

I like this world, and I found Halla, Zale, Brindle, and Sarkis completely engaging. It's a lot of fun.


I bought this book.

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