Book reviews, art, gaming, Objectivism and thoughts on other topics as they occur.

Apr 26, 2006

Oath of Swords

This is a fun and highly enjoyable book by David Weber about a highly atypical fantasy paladin and his various adventures. Since I love atypical characters (as should be fairly obvious from my own writing), I enjoy the series, although the books do have the occasional dull moment.

The basic plot of the first book is that Bazhell Bahnakson, a Horse Stealer hradani, gets himself into some serious trouble by having a vicious attack of nobility and is driven out into the lands of the other races (typical fantasy offerings such as dwarves, elves, etc.). This might not seem to be a big deal, except that the hradani are crazed berserkers and viewed with some alarm by the other races, if not hatred. Accompanied by his also atypical friend Brandark, a would-be bard, Bazhell manages to find a new place for himself in the world.

Still, things go fairly well . . . until Tomanak, the War God, decides that he wants Bazhell for his new champion (paladin, that is), and won't take no for an answer. A friend of mine summed the results up fairly succinctly:

"Be my champion! You'll have power and stuff!"
"Why not?"
"I don't want your power!"
"Here's a demon."
"Um . . . did you say something about power?"

One of the negatives of the book is Weber's occasionally overwrought writing style (must you describe every cut and thrust of every fight? And what's with the dramatic speeches?), which I think is overbalanced by his general outlook that most people are good, if wrongheaded, and will listen to reason. His really evil characters tend to come across as incredibly stupid, to the extent that you're actually happy when some suitably awful thing happens to them. You may even giggle.

The other doesn't bother me much, although it tends to bog the story down; Weber's books are full of logistical information that doesn't really pertain to the story so much. While it's nice that he put thought into where these fantasy populations live and work so that the story has versimilitude, if it's not important please don't devote ten pages to it.

Rating: 3.5


Anonymous said...

Three out of five? Three decimal five? This is actually the first of your book reviews I've read: what's the scale? Nice, helpful review: thanks!

Jennifer Snow said...

I use a 5 point scale, the half-points indicate that it's, well, about halfway between two designations, usually because it appeals more to my personal tastes than I think it really merits from an esthetic standing. The rating system can be found in an old post, or accessed through the Literatrix: Index link on the sidebar.