Welcome To Riverside, Where The Aristocratic And The Ambitious Battle For Power In The City S Ballroom, Brothels And Boudoirs Into This Alluring World Walks Katherine, A Well Bred Country Girl Versed In The Rules Of Conventional Society Her Mistake Is Thinking That They Apply For Katherine S Host And Uncle, Alec Campion, Aka The Mad Duke Tremontaine, Is In Charge Here And To Him, Rules Are Made To Be Broken When Alec Decides It Would Be Amusing For His Niece To Learn Swordplay Than To Follow The Usual Path To Marriage, Her World Changes Forever Blade In Hand, It S Up To Katherine To Navigate A Maze Of Secrets And Scoundrels And To Gain The Self Discovery That Comes To Those Who Master The Privilege Of The Sword


10 thoughts on “The Privilege of the Sword

  1. says:

    readers who have not encountered the previous books set in Kushner s Riverside could read this one first with no confusion or diminishment of pleasure One doesn t need to know the characters back or forward history as Katherine encounters them, we do too, through her descriptions both trenchant and humane Though it must be said certain lines and situations inevitably will resonate with readers familiar with the previous Riverside stories Kushner begins with sixteen year old Katherine, whose uncle, the Mad Duke Tremontaine, offers, out of nowhere, to cancel all debts and even to help the family out of poverty if Katherine consents to live with him for six months and train with the sword Of course she s going to take the offer despite the fact that young ladies do not have anything to do with swords Here are a couple of lines from the opening graf, and what swashbuckler among us can resist This was before I had ever been to the city I had never been in a duel, or held a sword myself I had never kissed anyone, or had anyone try to kill me, or worn a velvet cloak.And then, for the readers who know the story, that graf finishes I had certainly never met my uncle the Mad Duke Once I met him, much was explained pause for guffaw from those who know what that means Katherine does indeed learn to handle a sword But you absolutely cannot predict what is going to happen while she goes about it Meanwhile Katherine s first person storyline interweaves with other points of view to make a delightful whole that covers a surprising spectrum of situations and emotions There just isn t a note wrong anywhere, the characters are vivid, the humor a splash of light amid plenty of tense moments, introspective ones, sad ones, and some with exquisite poignance.Two observations of things that particularly impressed me one, the true to life secret lives of school girls who are mostly shut away from the world for their own good These girls read and reread romantic novels in order to decode the world novels chosen in hopes that the glorious landscape, passionate heroes especially heroic villains and noble emotions found there will indeed prove to be what the girls encounter when at last given the chance to take their place in the world Their language is a private language, the characters in the romances so well known, so endlessly discussed, they prance alongside the realtime story as dream shades This so resonated with my own teen experience, when encountering others who adored Man from U.N.C.L.E and Lord of the Rings and Georgette Heyer and Star Trek what s , this phenomenon resonates right back through literary letters and fiction clear to Charlotte Lennox who, in the 1750s, gave us The Female Quixote about a girl who raised herself on romance As well as Jane Austen s far fun iteration of the same plot in Northanger Abbey.The second thing that impressed me was how, as the young people encountered the worst aspects of the world and indeed did not always escape them they could observe, comprehend, and still retain their own integrity How very refreshing and how rare, unfortunately, in far too much fiction.


  2. says:

    The book is set a dozen or so years after Swordspoint, one of my very favorite fantasy stories Alec Campion, the Mad Duke of Tremontaine, summons his young niece to the city He promises to alleviate her family s financial situation if she ll obey his one command she must dress only in men s clothing and learn to fight There are many fantasy books about young, na ve girls who learn to swordfight and defy convention, and most of them are terrible even the Alanna series has some serious faults This is not one of those books Kate is initially far from pleased at her new situation, and the gradual growth of her appreciation for dueling is believable The story starts frothily, with characters new and old whipping about, all having a grand old time double crossing each other But as it progresses, Privilege of the Sword becomes about intimate power struggles and the right to personal freedom than just political infighting Kate s character also deepens, and while she retains a silly streak she has a tendency to romanticize she becomes a very likeable character In the background of her story are Alec and Richard St Vier, the main characters of Swordspoint hearing hints of their story percolate up is both teasing and satisfying The very end is a little too pat for my tastes, but overall I loved this book almost as much as its prequel.


  3. says:

    The one where Mad Duke Alec brings his 15 year old niece, Katherine, to the city to make a swordsman of her Very fine when it comes to Katherine s personal life less successful in other areas.Katherine is adorable, and her reactions rang very true to me I especially liked how it felt for her to put on men s clothes for the first time, and how she gradually gained enthusiasm for her fate Her sexual awakening was done very well, too I enjoyed seeing the dark side of sex and marriage I have a feeling that the Regency romances you ve read and enjoyed, the chilling it is to see the other side But the book has a complex view of sexuality and fantasy repeatedly it shows the same act with radically different meanings for the participants It was nice to have a tiny bit of backstory on Alec, and nice to see that the author is aware that he s insane sometimes I ve wondered I m still not clear, though, on what he was doing by making a swordsman of Katherine was it only to fit her for the family role, or was there some larger purpose I don t know what Flavia was doing there for all the long term significance she has, she might as well have been left out And I object to Rose s plot being dropped at such a critical point, though of course that s setting up for a sequel.And the Ferris plot To have it resolved in so blunt and hasty a fashion was a real letdown for me, and I also don t believe that Alec would have been able to walk away from such a thing with so few consequences to himself and his family The ending was hasty in general I felt that two or three chapters had been left out, but maybe that s because the book was Katherine s but the climax was Alec s, so we never really got a climax for Katherine s story 2007 Locus poll 1 fantasy.


  4. says:

    About fifteen years after Swordspoint, young Katherine is sent from the country to her uncle the mad Duke, who has a nefarious but possibly brilliant plan to turn her into the first swordswoman.Okay, so, it went something like this First 100 pages Restless twitching, sighing, picking of fingernails God, Ellen Kushner, are you seriously telling me you re letting me down in this universe twice Next 100 pages Oh Oh Eeee Well, why didn t you say so earlier Oh, but you re still doing that thing where you think all your other characters in addition to Richard and Alek are interesting, and you re still wrong, sigh.Last half of the book Clever, clever book Oh, Katherine Oh, Alek You are all marvelous and delightful and I love you to distraction I take it all back I didn t mean a word of it Well, except for the part about the first 100 pages being boring, cause they kinda are Sorry So, you know, forge ahead Because this book made me so, so happy There s clever cross dressing and power discourse and privilege discourse and tragedy and beauty This is a book about powerlessness and self determination with a female protagonist who dresses as a man and becomes a swordswoman, and it s not really about gender It s about people, and for that alone I could love it.


  5. says:

    i liked this book a lot better than the first one tbh, in my opinion the characters made much sense and again, the diversity is a


  6. says:

    Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma which reading list to follow it up with Variety is the spice of life, so I ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously This book falls into my LOCUS FANTASY list.As the Locus Sci Fi Award winners list treated me so kindly, I figure I ll trust those same good folk to pick me some stars in their sister list, the Locus Fantasy Award winners.While I was working my way through the list of Locus Sci Fi Award winners, I decided to dip a toe into the sister list for Locus Fantasy winners I ordered a trio of books from authors I d never read before Lavinia, Paladin of Souls and The Privilege of the Sword and this came second out of the three.At heart, it s a traditional coming of age tale for our teenage heroine, Katherine, a sweet and romantic girl who dreams of getting dolled up in pretty gown and snaring a handsome gentleman at a fancy ball She s forced to put her own desires aside in the name of familial duty when her rich, mad uncle, the Duke, comes a calling His fairly arbitrary offer is this she comes with him to the city, dresses only in men s clothes and learns to be a swordsman and in return he will save her family s finances.Based on this premise, I was expecting some pretty cheesy, clich d shenanigans and a bit of sledgehammer subtle feminism I was pleasantly surprised It s a lot grounded and convincing than cheeseball The mad Duke keeps things unpredictable and sometimes pretty funny Katherine is a very likeable lass, and as she s slowly won over by the honour and excitement of swordplay it s hard not to feel a little of her elation The blind sword master was pretty cool as was his unconventional relationship with the Duke The overall tone and spin on the regency style was lively, refreshing and fun.This is the second in a trilogy, but I read it as a stand alone and it holds up perfectly well I understand the first book is set nearly twenty years earlier, so while it fleshes out the world and the duke s early life, it s not essential reading My main complaint with this book was the ending I don t want to give too much away but it s abrupt, carries no emotional punch and wraps things up far too conveniently for the next book feel true The Privilege of the Sword scores a very comfortable three star rating from me I read it, I enjoyed every minute of it and look back on our time together with fondness, but it didn t rock my world and I didn t feel compelled to check out the prequel or sequel The Privilege of the Sword won the 2007 Locus Fantasy Award The Locus Sci Fi award that year went to Rainbow s End which I didn t enjoy and the Locus Y A Award went to Wintesmith, which is my favourite of the three but not top drawer Pratchett Conclusion 2007 wasn t the finest vintage for Locus award winners.Having said that, The Lies of Locke Lamora was nominated that year and finished 22nd in the rankings I wonder how that would fare if the award were given retrospectively Might be a fun little project one day or perhaps I have enough lists already


  7. says:

    Like Swordspoint, which I also loved, this novel is an extremely entertaining read that manages to provoke far thought than I would have expected from a book that s such pure fun I think what I loved so much about The Privilege of the Sword is that it manages to grant the reader the very real narrative pleasure of the comedy of manners and the swashbuckling revenge tale while at the same time illuminating the gender and class politics at the very foundations of these genres This knowing awareness permeates the book s wry humor, especially in the scenes revolving around the fictional novel, The Swordsman Whose Name Was Not Death, which is both a vehicle for its society s oppressive s and the catalyst for subversion on the part of several characters who encounter and reinterpret it The role of popular fiction in the imaginations and self conceptions of these characters amounts to an incredibly smart commentary on the limitations and subversive potential of genre fiction, as well as the power of alternative readings of even the most reactionary seeming stories It s also a hilarious, affectionate parody of the novel s own genre Who says that critiques of deep seated power structures can t also be fun Talk about the pleasure of the text To roughly quote a character as the book is not in front of me It s full of noble truths of the heart And swordfights


  8. says:

    This is the second of the Riverside books that I ve read, and I think I ve figured out what is peculiar about them they feel like fan fiction without a source text Even Swordspoint, the first book, which sets up the world of Riverside and the couple, Alec and Richard, who are the clear emotional heart of that book and in some ways of this as well, despite being in the background , seems like it is assuming our affection and investment as readers, sharing an inside joke It works, because it s as easy to care about Richard and Alec as it is to care about some of the best fandom pairings out there, and because the short handing gives us as readers the pleasant feeling of being a privileged audience, being in on something with them But it s an interesting experience as a reader I want to think about the generic traits that make this and some other fantasy feel like fic, where that originates is it because fandom writers all learn from Kushner and others are there shared sources to this Anyway, Privilege of the Sword is a lot of fun, but it doesn t work as well as Swordspoint there s something about it that feels tonally a little off It might be that I find it hard to get invested in Katherine as a heroine when she is not in on the joke with us similar problem sometimes with Kel in Tamora Pierce s Protector of the Small, when she interacts with Alanna and Daine but that rings a little differently because the world of Tortall is developed, and as readers we have had time to become invested in it , or because I m made somewhat uncomfortable by the way volition becomes unimportant in the fantasy fulfillment narrative of her becoming a swordsman it s what Alec wants for her, not what she wants for herself, she at first finds the requirement to change her gender presentation unpleasant and scary, and then she accepts it It becomes a source of pride and joy for her, and this makes some sense emotionally, but I couldn t quite get away from seeing it as her embodying Alec s dream for her, his own fantasy of a woman who can defend herself and cannot be coerced, not her own Alec and Katherine s relationship is problematized, but by the end of the novel those problems sort of fade into the background, it s interesting Maybe my overall feeling upon finishing the book, that it was fun but didn t quite stick, came out the construction the side plotlines don t really fit together for me, and, like some other reviewers, I would have preferred it to be all 1st or all 3rd pov I also wanted it to go darker I wasn t satisfied with the denouement of the libertine aristrocrat revenge plotline, it wasn t enough for me again like the side plotlines in Protector of the Small Hmm Alec and Richard remain a joy Kushner is every effective at giving us just enough of their relationship that we still very much want Though I would sort of just have preferred books straight up about them.


  9. says:

    RatingReview This review originally appeared on Out of this World Reviews The short of Ellen Kushner s The Privilege of the Sword I liked it Though I have to say I m split But, first, a brief summary Lady Katherine Talbert goes to live with her Uncle, the Mad Duke, who has it in for Katherine s mother the Duke s sister and vows to leave her alone should she commit her daughter to living with him for six months In that time, the Mad Duke completely changes her perspective on life and her place in it, having her trained as a swords wo man Once she has mastered the sword, she can no longer go back to the life she would have otherwise led It s as much a coming of age story as it is about the sordid politics the Mad Duke has immersed himself in In the end, it s up to Katherine, with her Uncle s help, to save the day.On one hand, it s written exceptionally well The writing flows naturally, the prose are very concise, never once does she launch into pages and pages of backstory or what I term excessive exposition , which is when a writer goes overboard dealing with a character s internal emotions or conflict She keeps the story moving along from page to page, never really slowing with the exception of a page here and there where she gets a little too much into the intricacies of the lives of the young female aristocrats and their oh so harried social lives The book was a delight to read, especially from the perspective of trying to learn, learn, learn everything I can so I can hopefully someday find success of my own with my own writing Chalk this one up as a great learning experience.On the other hand, there s not enough story there for my tastes Kushner throws in a few smaller plotlines, one of which ties into Katherine s expertise with the sword, but the main plot didn t give me enough to sink my teeth into I understand there are two other books which came out before The Privilege of the Sword Swordspoint, The Fall of The Kings , but neither is necessary to understand this one I haven t read either So, what we have is Katherine learning the sword, her using her expertise to avenge a friend s honor, and the Duke playing a sort of chess game against one of his main rivals in the city I m afraid even that might be pushing it as the third point only comes into play towards the end.In summary, The Privilege of the Sword is very well written but just didn t give me enough to truly enjoy it Still, there are enough moments where it shines that I m giving it three rockets.


  10. says:

    There are some things I liked very much about this book The moment of the main character s first sexual awakening is both hilarious and yet also believable there are moments of brilliant wit and biting sarcasm there are scenes of such vicious depravity and cruelty that one s breath is taken away and there are a few moments of tender love One problem many sequels have true sequels, in which previous characters appear in a new story is that characters one has learned to love or hate, or who in any case have become familiar, are suddenly strange, foreign and altered This book falls slightly afoul of this, but then there is a wonderfully disturbing scene in the dark in a country cottage that made the magic of Swordspoint come back and besides, this book weaves its own magic quite capably, and has a different tone and purpose So I ended up enjoying it very much, even if it wasn t Swordspoint rehashed.