Book Review 2007 #19: Sky of Swords

The Third novel in Dave Duncan’s King’s Blades novel, wrapped up intimately with the events of the first two novels.


The first two King’s Blade novels, in not really a spoiler, kill off the King, Ambrose IV, in contradictory and different ways. The third novel, Sky of Swords, tells the story of his daughter, Malinda, and how the paradoxical different ends of Ambrose are resolved.
It’s a swashbuckling story from the woman’s point of view. Whereas the first novel told the story from a Blade’s POV, and the second from a foreigner, the third goes, some might argue, even further and shows it from the fairer sex point of view. Malinda is every inch her father’s daughter, a strong female character who grows and matures in the novel, and changes the course of Chivial history. Duncan’s strength here is writing complete female characters, especially Malinda, who don’t succumb to the usual pitfalls–she only needs a man, or she’s really a male protagonist with boobs, or she’s a sexless being.
The book falls a bit short in reuniting and reconciling the two novels. While I figured out what Malinda was going to do in the end fairly early, I think it could have been set up a little better than it was. While it doesn’t have the problems of a third novel in the series that Duncan had with his Great Game book, it was a bit of a letdown from the previous two novels. And, I think that while it does wrap up with the first two novels, the third novel ends in such a way that reference back to the first novel is necessary to complete the story. I’m not sure, unless and if someday an SFBC omnibus is made, that this was a good choice.
On the other hand, for swashbuckling adventure in a world that has some, but not overwhelming sorcery, Sky of Swords, like the other two King’s Blade novels I read, delivers.