Plot: Katherine’s uncle, the mad Duke Tremontaine, has been dogging her family with costly legal battles for years. They are barely able to make ends meet. She is thus surprised when he invites her to stay with him at Tremontaine house in Riverside. But though she dreams of balls and beaus, her uncle has other plans for her. He dresses her in men’s clothes and makes her train in sword fighting.
The Privilege of the Sword is a companion to Kushner’s amazing Swordspoint. You can enjoy this novel without having read/listened to the previous Riverside novel but why would you? I fell in love with both novels when I read them years ago and I was surprised and delighted to discover that the audiobooks actually improve upon the experience.
Kushner narrates once again and she does an amazing job. Her writing is lyrical and she has the skill as a reader to do it real justice. It is a real pleasure to hear. She is aided by Barbara Rosenblat, who voices the omnicient narrator, and a full cast for selected scenes. This cast includes Neil Gaiman and Felicia Day, who is perfect as Katherine. As if that wasn’t enough, beautiful original music has been created to accompany the text.
The story, meanwhile, is a real pleasure. TPotS is less political than Swordspoint (though the villain from the first book returns and is, if possible, even more detestable). But no worries! The novel is still full of secrets, intrigue and love affairs, not to mention sword fights. No one says what they think and it’s thrilling trying to work out their plots and motivations. It also delves deeply into the position of women in Riverside society, their rights and their honor through a cast of complex and unconventional female characters.
Even in this amazing cast, Katherine shines. She starts out like a young woman in a regency novel: a reader of novels who dreams of gowns and balls and handsome suitors. Her training gives her real courage and passion and she becomes quite the gallant as the novel progresses. Her deep friendship with her uncle’s manservant, Marcus, is beautiful and touching. They both have sharp wits and keen curiosity; their secret sleuthing is as thrilling for the reader as it is for them.
Fans of Swordspoint will be pleased to meet Alec, now Duke of Tremontaine, again. He is as delightfully wicked as ever, though now he has the money and power to aid him in his plots. Richard is mysteriously absent from his life, which is tragic, but I will let you discover the reasons for this yourself. It is wonderfully satistfying and bittersweet.
And would you look at the beautiful new cover for the audiobook!
You can hear a sample here. Why aren’t you listening yet?
To make things better, a little birdie tells me that we can look forward to an audiobook for The Fall of Kings as well. I’m trembling with excitement.
Title: The Privilege of the Sword
Series: Riverside (2)
Author & reader: Ellen Kushner (http://www.sff.net/people/kushnerSherman/Kushner/)
Publisher: Bantam Spectra
Audiobook publisher: Sue Media Productions
Year: 2012 (first published in 2006)
Book ISBN: 978-0-553-58696-1