The Knight Of The Swords
Titan Books, May 5 2015, $9.95
As the Mabden begins its ascendancy due to overwhelming hordes; the Vadhagh live in their family community castles on Bro-an Vadhagh and their enemy the Nhadragh reside in their cities on islands. Both ignore any threat from these upstart cattle; as for instance if anyone bothered to capture a specimen, they either would experiment or lock it away in a menagerie. Instead when these ancient races are not internally focused, they concentrate on their million years of loathing for one another.
Vadhagh Prince Khlonskey worries about family extinction; as the Castle Erorn clan diminished from several hundred occupants to the present dozen. He disregards rumors of the sheep Mabden overrunning castles as impossible. Instead Khlonskey assigns his son Prince Corum to seek their race to join them in his family home. Instead a massacre of those he came to persuade at the hands of the Mabden greets Corum; followed by his mutilation at their hands and the deaths of his kin. Once Law-abiding, the insane Corum seeks vengeance; so he barters his soul with Shool the Eye of Rhynn sorcerer to give him the power to take his personal war to the Lords of Chaos manipulators of the Mabden horde, starting with the Knight of the Swords.
This reprint of the 1971 first winner of the British Fantasy Awards for best novel (with the five sequels to follow) focuses on a raging certifiable protagonist who believes revenge is the only dish left for him to serve. The storyline remains entertaining though the hero’s allies (sidekick, odd rescuer and lover) fail the test of four plus decades. Still this dark coming of age epic is an enjoyable opening act.