A few months back, Kathleen Jennings leant me her copy of Swordspoint on the assumption I’d probably like it. The fact that I actually took it is a pretty good indication I thought she was probably right, since I generally don’t borrow books from people I like. No matter how many times I point out, no, seriously, it will take me forever to get around to reading this, it never seems adequate to the task of explaining how long it will take me.
Case in point: I’m pretty sure what I’m writing off as a few months, up there, is actually about a year. Possibly two years. It’s entirely possible that I’d forgotten I’d borrowed it until I came across it while re-arranging a bookshelf a few weeks back, ’cause that’s the way my brain works when it comes to unread books.
Do not lend me books, is what I’m saying.
But, maybe, go track down Kathleen and borrow her copy of Swordspoint, ’cause it’s a pretty damn extraordinary book. Ellen Kushner’s novel about the nobility of Hill and the duelists in Riverside is one of those stories that’s winding and tricksy and never quite what you’re expecting, but ultimately lands as one of the best fantasy novels I’ve read in years (and I’m only twenty-eight years behind the times, if I’m doing my calculations correctly).
Interestingly, it’s not necessarily a book I’d recommend to all fans of fantasy – this is a story that’s got a lot more in common with Dangerous Liasons than Lord of the Rings, although the cruelty in this is much more subtle. That combination kept me up reading well and truly past my bedtime two nights a row, however, and that just doesn’t happen these days. Like, ever.
I find myself hanging out for the opportunity to read the prequel serial, Tremontain, which Kathleen has been blogging about (and illustrating) in recent weeks. Possibly, it has been added to my post-GenreCon reading list.