Valder is a scout for the Esthshar army in its centuries old war with dark forces of the Northern Empire and, when we are first introduced to our hero, it is clear he isn’t having the best of days. Having stumbled upon a bold enemy assault force, he is determined to return to his comrades and warn them of an impending surprise attack. Unfortunately, complicating matters for Valder are three equally determined enemy soldiers, in hot pursuit and closing fast. The chase ends at the modest home of an elderly wizard who expresses his dismay at getting caught up in the action – right before they are attacked and his house burnt to the ground. But thankfully, the wizard is as clever as he is outraged, using magical means to convince their attackers that they have been killed. Safe and sound and presumed dead, Valder and the wizard part company, but not before the magician enchants Valder’s sword with powers he can’t quite fathom – until much later when, out on his own, he draws the sword and finds himself unable to either release it until…it claims the life of an enemy warrior.
It quickly becomes apparent that the magical enchantment placed on the sword was, in fact, a misenchantment. Every time the blade is drawn, it can only be sheathed once it has killed. And killing is something it does quite well, imbuing its wielder with remarkable sword skills in addition to bestowing him with immortality so long as the spell lasts. And, here’s the catch, the spell will last until 100 enemy lives are taken – at which point the sword will turn on its owner and slay him in turn.
What follows is a delightfully atypical fantasy tale in which character and humor trump epic heroic journey. Our protagonist isn’t interested in saving his lands from the evil enemy. Rather, first things first, he wants to be rid of the damn sword. But when that proves impossible (no one else can wield the blade and it will always return to him despite his attempts to “lose” it), he seeks to make the best of things. But making the best of things run counter to the wishes of his commanding officers who decide to advantage of Valder’s amazing abilities by making him an assassin in their service. All well and good except for the fact that Valder aint your average hero. He doesn’t enjoy killing, doesn’t like to risk his life, and wants nothing more than to retire from battle and enjoy a nice, quiet retirement. His attitude, and his ensuing actions, make for a refreshingly unique take on the genre. The focus isn’t on the sword slaying (in fact, at one point in the book, we simply skip ahead, time cutting to a tally of the ballooning body count) but on Valder himself, tracing his career as a reluctant assassin to his late-life career as a simple innkeeper. In the background, meanwhile, the generations-long war reaches an off-stage conclusion when the forces of Esthshar, represented by benign gods, do battle with the demonic champions of the Northern Empire in a grand climactic battle that destroys half the kingdom – and is relayed to Valder in a matter-of-fact “Oh, by the way, you won’t believe happened” manner. My initial reaction was “Huh? Really?” And even though it was an odd and surprisingly underwhelming development, I still loved it for just those very reasons. It’s as if the author said “THAT isn’t what this story is about anyway. But if you’re interested…”.
Even though I found the novel wrapped up a little too conveniently, I nevertheless enjoyed the journey. The Misenchanted Sword was an immensely enjoyable read.
So, those were my initial thoughts. What did everyone else think? Weigh in with your thoughts and start submitting your comments for author Lawrence Watt-Evans!
Ah, you’ve heard I see. Yes, it’s official. Stargate: Universe has been picked up for a second season. And do you know what this means? Yes, that’s right. I have to finish that script. My favorite response to the announcement comes from the comments section of Robert Seidman’s TVbytheNumbers’ piece (http://tvbythenumbers.com/2009/12/13/stargate-sgu-renewed-sanctuary-too/36110) where someone called hdtv1 writes: “This crap must be cancelled. sgu writer’s are idoit.” Well said, sir.
We were back in the office today where the discussion ranged from Robert Cooper’s finished first draft of Aftermath to my lovely Tokyo dining companions. Tomorrow, we actually start breaking more stories!
And finally, editor Lou Anders left the following message in yesterday’s comments section with regard to the upcoming With Great Power superhero anthology:
“WITH GREAT POWER is coming out from Pocket Books in July 20, 2010. I’ll be able to announce the cover artist soon, who is someone familiar to readers of Marvel comics. The book is already available for preorders on Amazon, and based on the comparative buys it looks like the Stargate crowd has already found it!
Matt R. writes: “1) Is the Apple Core the official bridge on Destiny or some type of relay station? Will we be seeing the actual bridge some time?
2) In Atlantis many of the scenes shot inside the city were on or around cat walks or just plain hallways. Is that going to change of SGU? Any chance of seeing some “great halls” large finished rooms like we did in “Air”?
3) Who is responsiable for the Kino shorts? “
Answers: 1) The Apple Core will be the “substitute” bridge until a time when the actual bridge is discovered – whenever that may be. Stay tuned.
2) Very possibly. Again, stay tuned.
3) The kino segments were written by the writing staff and directed by Ivon. R Bartok.
Wade writes: “But in SG-1, I was sure there was an episode or two where someone entered a closing wormhole and didn’t make it.”
Answer: The scene that comes to mind is Teal’c’s tug-o-war with the replicator in SG-1’s Gemini. In that instant, the replicator “gave up” its arm and the puddle shut down.
Major D. Davis writes: “When will Major Davis be in SGU?”
Answer: No plans to see him on the show as of yet.
David writes: “I also was not sure how to address questions to the mailbag and I’m not sure if this was brought up before but I wanted to your attention and error regarding the rank of Ronald Greer.”
Answer: Thanks, David. I’ll pass this along.
ilikecakes writes: “also, looking for a vancouver restaurant with good non-chocolate desserts (though i know you hate fruit); any recommendations?”
Answer: I had a pretty darn good pear pie with sour cream ice cream at Re-Fuel last night (no kidding). Also, Cin Cin on Robson has always had pretty good desserts.
Michael writes: “How did the idea of stranding Rush on the planet at the end of “Justice” come about in the writer’s room or was it a single writer’s pitch to the group?”
Answer: The idea was pitched in the writers’ room by either Brad or Robert (I can’t remember which).
Kevin L. writes: “Why were some of the names changed?”
Answer: Usually because there is actually someone out there with that same name.
Shaggygirl writes: “So just how much weight did you gain in Japan? Back on the diet?”
Answer: I actually lost three pounds and shaved off 1% off my total body weight. And, yes, I’m back on the regimen.
Simon writes: “2) Is it true the second half of season 1 will have less focus on the stones?
3) Speaking of the second half of season 1, I know you probably won’t know the answer to this. Are channles like Sky1 in the UK and Space over in Canada getting the second half before SyFy?”
Answers: 2) Not so much less focus as a “re” focus.
3) No, the back half of the season will premiere on SyFy first.
GrapesofWraith writes: “Have you had any cravings for cod sperm since you’ve been back?”
Answer: Believe it or not – no.
MaggieW writes: “Is there still no news about the Stargate Extinction? “
Answer: Alas, still no news. But to those wondering how the heck the authorities can manage to keep the city hidden away in San Francisco Bay – the movie will reveal that Atlantis has been conveniently “relocated”.
Tanie writes: “do your fur kids ever go into work with you?”
Answer: Rarely. They’re a bit of a distraction.