|Dave Duncan: The Gilded Chain|
Eos (Paperback), ISBN 0-380-79126-9
A superb world builder, Dave Duncan creates flawless, intriguing environments and excels at characterization. His plotting left me breathless. And I must admit his imagination and creativity made me envious, jealous and truly glad I could add another writer to my favorites list. Even better, Duncan's publisher promises another stand-alone book about the Blades, Lord of the Fire Lands, will appear in bookstores soon.
The best swordsman in the school and living for the time he will be the King's Blade, Durendal finds himself bonded till death to an effete nobleman. Unfortunately for Durendal the ritual is so binding that the Blade must do all in his power to protect and defend the fop, even when the fop plots treason. A man of honor, Durendal can't help but go mad when things go awry.
What happens next? Grab this book and read it as fast as you can -- I won't spoil it for you by giving away plot points. But I will tell you that I already found a place for The Gilded Chain on my keeper shelf and plan to reread it again and again. It reminded me of A Man for All Seasons, the story of another dedicated man of honor. Durendal is that and more.
Patricia White is the Sapphire Award-winning author of A Wizard Scorned. Her current book, the western Edwina Parkhurst, Spinster, is available from Hard Shell Word Factory.
I had not read any Duncan before, but plan to keep track of him from now on. He tells the tale of Durendal, who becomes one of the "King's Blades," men sworn to serve their king (or the person he designates) with a sword thrust through the heart.
Duncan's prose in The Gilded Chain is economical, as sharp as one of his own "Blades." [Duncan's] keen eye for character, his subtle dealing with certain moral quandaries of being a Blade, and his picaresque snap-shots of foreign lands, court treachery, and action which leaves the reader breathless are enough to make me a fan. I'm even more amazed that he so skillfully (and economically) uses the material he has. Robert Jordan would have gotten six books out of it, at least, but Duncan has honed his tale into a beautifully sculpted story where every word counts. In this age of bloated trilogies, it's a joy to see.
Diane Joy Baker
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