Book review

First Sword by Mark Robson (2002)

It's a continuing saga. Make sure you start with Book One, The Forging of the Sword, because the plot is quite complex.

A fantasy action story with two very separate threads of narrative. Rather like real life, I suspect, there are the soldiers, and there are the politicians who direct their actions, and there is very little connection between the two.

Well, there is one connection. There is Calvyn. He moves easily in both camps. He started off as a private in Baron Keevan's army, but soon won promotion to corporal. That caused a bit of strife between him and Jenna, which still needs to be sorted out. But Calvyn's a busy man, because he won another promotion. After the stupendous victory at Kortag, grateful King Malo dubbed Calvyn Knight of the Realm and appointed him Personal Adviser to the King on all matters magical. If you need to know exactly what Calvyn did to earn such recognition, you'll have to read the book, but I can tell you that Calvyn is by now a very accomplished magician, if a little untutored in the magical arts.

But even if you are a brilliant magician things don't always go according to plan. Two casualties of the victory at Kortag were Calvyn's friends Bek and Jez. While Calvyn laboured under a spell of compulsion he allowed them to be captured and removed to Shandrim where they are now forced to fight for their lives in the gladiatorial arena. Bek is a skilled swordsman, but more than his skill it is his burning desire for revenge against Calvyn that keeps him alive in the arena:

A burning flame of anger was smouldering almost constantly in Bek's gut now, as he became steadily more bitter about the situation in which he found himself. Jez, with his light-hearted outlook and seemingly eternal optimism, was all that kept him from fighting back. 'Bide your time, Bek,' Jez kept telling him. 'The time to fight will come all too soon ...'

Something tells me we'll be seeing Bek again in Book Four.

Unaware of Bek's oath for revenge, Calvyn's loyalties are divided. He needs to rescue his comrades but he also has other obligations to Perdimmon his first tutor in magic, and to the Council of Magicians, who are wrestling with the root cause of all the evil disturbance in the Kingdom - Selkor is attempting to gather the Keys of Power, and who can stop him?

A powerful blend of magic and early warfare. Mark Robson excels in revealing the inner workings of the soldier's mind. I always enjoy these books!

What can I read next?

The Darkweaver Legacy is a series of four books. Make sure you read them in order:

If you enjoy your magic serious and powerful, you might like to look at this excellent one by Garth Nix:

Or this one by Lian Hearn:

Or you could have a look at this compelling retelling of a Viking Saga by Melvin Burgess:

Also, the Bookchooser has found these books with a similar profile:

First Sword features in these lists: