No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Thursday, January 04, 2007

REREAD: Swordspoint -- Ellen Kushner

I was spurred to reread this by other reading: The Privilege of the Sword, an utterly wonderful and frivolously swashbuckling sequel; and some rather good fanfiction.

The following notes contain, not exactly spoilers, but aides-memoire.

It's about ten years since I first read Swordspoint, and I was surprised at how little of the plot I'd retained. In particular, I'd forgotten the lurid details of Michael Godwin's past. But rereading now, I can see more clearly how Alec and Richard's relationship fits into the wider political situation. And I truly don't believe that anything is accidental where the Duchess Tremontaine is concerned (the theatre, the ring).

Alec's intellectual enquiries do seem much more juvenile than they did a decade ago!

This edition (which isn't the one I owned back then, and which I actually have a duplicate of as I couldn't wait to retrieve and unpack my books from ex-landlady's loft) contains three additional stories, none of which I'd read before. 'red-Cloak' is the first ever Riverside story, and to me it seems strangely foreign -- the magical atmosphere, something more supernatural about the events. (One of the great delights of Swordspoint is that it's distinctly a fantasy, and yet there is no magic, there are no gods.) 'The Swordsman Whose Name Was Not Death' (also the title of a novel-within-a-novel in The Privilege of the Sword) is an interesting forerunner to Kushner's later examination of the role of women in Riverside / nameless-City society. And 'The Death of the Duke' is really rather wrenching, and takes us past the end of Privilege.