Wallie Smith had been dying on another world when the Goddess transferred his mind to the body of the barbarian swordsman Shonsu. Then She gave him the great, magical Sapphire Sword of Chioxin and sent him on a mission. All he had to do was to lead the arrogant band of swordsmen to destroy the sorcerers and their Fire God. Now Wallie discovered that he'd already tried it - and been hopelessly defeated.
A few complications cropped up. Wallie's reputation was in tatters. His best friend and pupil was apparently planning to betray him. And if he won, he would doom all hope of progress and learning in this World of the Goddess - doom the Goddess Herself. It made an interesting kind of riddle. All he had to do was find the solution - and survive, if he could!
Superb narration. I have really enjoyed this series, and read / listened to all four books. The 4th book is set 15 years in the future, so the main plot line ends here with book 3. I gave the other books 4 and 5 stars for story, but this one lost a point because it felt like the author lost track of Nnanji's characterization towards the end. He behaved towards Wallie in subtle and overt ways that didn't fit. Also, some plot holes, explained below.
However, the characterization of the old priest Hanakora felt very authentic. Ktanji, also! Interesting, seeing how the terrible Shonsu ousted easygoing Wallie Smith when his old flame the minstrel appeared in the plot.
I wanted to know more about the river. Is there a source? Does it move?
Seemed to me that there wouldn't have been a guild of "scribes" a millennia ago, when writing didn't exist. Did those early scribes keep records with pictures? We never did find out why the scribes and the priests fought so long ago, developing an eternal feud, nor why the swordsmen sided with the priests.
I question the likelihood of repressing competing inventions and keeping so many inventions secret for so long. And I'm not really buying the disinterest the tryst leaders had in anything but swordsmanship and sutras.
Crime and punishment. I didn't buy how the sorcerer's fate was resolved, in a society where a slight dishonor ends in certain death.
On the up side, the epilogue of this book is beautifully written, heartwarming and thought provoking. Brought a tear to my eye, almost. Plus, the song "The Swordsmen in the Morning" is evocative. Loved that whole scene.
I also enjoyed book 4, and it helped to resolve some other minor uncertainties left hanging at the end of this book.
Good series. Fairly light fantasy, somewhat suspenseful, with humor and a thread of romance.
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A very satisfying conclusion to the original trilogy, if not what you would expect. On the surface it seems to be frivolous fantasy but in reality it makes you consider many moral, and ethical questions.
A grand adventure, like I've never known. Dave Duncan is an author of the Seventh Rank.
Unsatisfying conclusion. Lots of leaps to cause struggles and emotional turmoil that didn't make sense.
What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)
A bit disappointed in the ending. It was self-consistent, but a little too simplistic, especially when compared to Dave Duncan's later novels. Still worth listening because it rounds up one of his most entertaining story arcs.