Sky of Swords (Tales of the King's Blades Series #3)

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Overview

The mightiest swordsmen in the relm, are bound by magic to defend their noble wards...to the death.

The King's Blades

The unloved child of the unscrupulous King Ambrose,Princess Malinda learned at an early age to fight for what was rightfully hers. Now, with the Kings abrupt death, civil war has become her grim destiny. Making her uncertain way through the blood labyrinth of schemesand betrayals, Malinda can trust none but the Blades of the ...

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Sky of Swords (Tales of the King's Blades Series #3)

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Overview

The mightiest swordsmen in the relm, are bound by magic to defend their noble wards...to the death.

The King's Blades

The unloved child of the unscrupulous King Ambrose,Princess Malinda learned at an early age to fight for what was rightfully hers. Now, with the Kings abrupt death, civil war has become her grim destiny. Making her uncertain way through the blood labyrinth of schemesand betrayals, Malinda can trust none but the Blades of the Royal Guard. But the Blades themselves are in grave peril. And the young Queen faces the most crucialdecision of her life: a choice that will either redeem her kingdom from chaos...or bring ultimate destruction down upon it, her Blades, and herself.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA
Malinda is no petite princess. Her arm does not falter when she plunges a sword into the heart of each of her four Blades, thus binding them to her in a centuries-old magical ritual. Nor has hers been a fairy tale existence. Living in exile until summoned to court by her despotic father, she is to be married off to a pirate so that he will cease his raiding. At the wedding, things go horribly wrong. Her father is killed by treachery, and the country is plunged into chaos. Malinda is beset on all sides by relatives who want to wrest the throne from her sickly young brother and clear the path to power by eliminating her. Her options grow ever fewer, and only at the last, desperate moment does she risk death for herself and all those who serve her by going back in time to the moment before her father is killed to change the course of history. This third book in The King's Blades series is wholly Malinda's story. She matures from an uncertain, untried youth into a woman who knows her strengths and weaknesses yet is unafraid to do what must be done to save her country from civil war. The story is told in a series of flashbacks with excellent pacing. Crisis after crisis must be met, and although the villains are not horrific, the most evil of men sometimes seem ordinary on the surface. The language is appropriate, the world building is competent, and the concept is intriguing. Duncan is a master of fantasy, and this tale of a strong, capable woman triumphing over many obstacles is a pleasure to read. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2000,EOS/HarperCollins, 385p, Ages 16 to Adult. Reviewer: Diane Yates SOURCE: VOYA, April 2001 (Vol. 24, No.1)
Library Journal
With the death of her father, King Ambrose, Princess Malinda takes upon herself the duty of protecting the kingdom of Chivial's rightful heir, her infant brother, Amby. When Malinda comes under suspicion of crimes against the realm, only the magically bonded King's Blades can protect her--if they believe in her innocence. Though not dependent on previous books in the series (The Gilded Chain, Lord of the Fire Lands), this tale of swashbuckling adventure belongs in most fantasy collections. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
YA-In this third entry in the series, Princess Malinda is furious when her father, King Ambrose IV, arranges her marriage to the Baelish King Radgar in order to end a decade-long war. She fully intends to go through with it, however, until her groom gives her the option of walking away. So she does, and he assassinates her father in full view of the wedding guests and the King's Blades, an elite group of magically bound, magically enhanced swordsmen. The princess's baby half-brother is named king, but when the sickly child dies, Malinda seizes the throne, killing the Lord Protector in the process, but unfortunately letting two other contenders for the crown slip through her fingers. She is eventually imprisoned and accused of treason. A small band of Blades comes to the rescue, but rather than pursue her claim and subject Chivial to civil war, she determines to try a risky sorcerous ritual. This book, like the others, is an entertaining, swashbuckling adventure. The Blades are charming characters with legendary prowess at more than just swordplay. Malinda is a daring, stubborn, and kindhearted young woman who always acts with courage and aplomb. The realm of Chivial becomes more defined with each book, but there is plenty left for Duncan to explore.-Susan Salpini, Purcellville Library, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Third of Duncan's tales—or, rather, the third variation on the same theme—of the King's Blades (Lord of the Fire Lands, 1999, etc). The Blades are expert swordsmen, bound by powerful magic to defend the person to whom they're bound—usually, but not always, the monarch of Chivial. With the heir to the throne, threeyearold Amby, ailing, King Ambrose seeks to wed his mettlesome daughter Malinda to Radgar, King of Baelmark, and thus end the ruinous war between the two kingdoms. But when Radgar arrives in his longship to collect Malinda, he seizes the opportunity to assassinate Ambrose with a crossbow bolt. Malinda, protected by her blades, escapes, but the war continues, and Ambrose's bastard brother, Granville, becomes Lord Protector. After young Amby duly dies, Granville captures Malinda and imprisons her on trumpedup charges. Months of interrogation and maltreatment later, Malinda's rescued by her loyal Blades and flees for her life. Radgar too is dead, killed in a raid, and Chivial's situation looks to be beyond recovery. Where, wonders Malinda, did it all go wrong? Ambrose was brutal and ruthless, but capable and commanding. What if—and here fans of the previous books will exclaim aha!—he hadn't died?
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380791286
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/2001
  • Series: Tales of the King's Blades Series , #3
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 480
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Dave Duncan is an award-winning author whose fantasy trilogy, The Seventh Sword, is considered a sword-and-sorcery classic. His numerous novels include three Tales of the King's Blades — The Gilded Chain, Lord of the Fire Lands, and Sky of Swords; Paragon Lost, a previous Chronicle of the King’s Blades; Strings, Hero; the popular tetralogies A Man of His Word and A Handful of Men; and the remarkable, critically acclaimed fantasy trilogy The Great Game.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Love can hurt: that is the last lesson of childhood.
— fonatelles
On a bright and frosty morning in Eleventhmoon, Malinda came awake with a start, remembering that this was the second day of her ninth birthweek. She jumped out of bed and opened the door to peer along the corridor at the Blade who sat at the top of the stairs near her mother's door, guarding her as he was bound to do. Blades were all built much the same, lean and nimble, and Queen Godeleva's two were so much alike that Malinda could not be certain from this angle whether she was seeing Sir de Fait or Sir Arundel. It didn't matter in the slightest. What did matter was that he was wearing forest green livery. The Queen's Blades rarely brought out those outfits now, for seven years' exile had left them patched and darned and faded. Their swords were still as sharp as ever, or so they claimed.

Sensing her eyes on him, the Blade closed his book on a finger and turned his head to smile at her. It was Sir de Fait.

"Today?" she said. "He'll come today?"

Yesterday there had been a grand party to celebrate her birthweek. Almost the entire population of the island had packed into the hall, bringing strong odors of sheep and other livestock — not fish, fortunately, for Ness Royal had no port. She had been given wonderful gifts: a gown of golden silk made by Mistress de Fait, a sheepskin bedcover from Lady Arabel, and hundreds of horn buttons, bird nets, wooden whistles, and other things made by the children of the island; gloves and bed socks knitted by their mothers. Remembering the courtly manners Lady Arabel tried so hard toteach her, she had given thanks for every one, even if she did now have about fifty-seven wooden whistles and no use for any of them. Her mother had given her a leather-bound book of poetry she couldn't understand but would when she was older.

Other people's birthweeks were not so honored, but Malinda was Heir Presumptive — as she would happily explain to anyone who did not understand how important that made her — and every year her father the Monster sent her a gift, a very special gift. Last year, it had been a necklace of blood-red garnets; the year before, a clock with a cuckoo that came out to chirp the hours; and before that a cloak of sable, soft as smoke. The cloak was too small for her now, the cuckoo's works had rusted in the damp sea winds, and she was not allowed to wear the necklace outside of Kingstead itself, in case she forgot and went exploring caves or climbing cliffs in it, but the Monster's gift was always the most special part of her birthweek. A Blade came all the way from Greymere Palace in Grandon, three or even four days' hard riding, just to kneel to the Heir Presumptive and proffer her a package and a beautifully lettered scroll, both sealed with the royal signet. She never knew exactly which day the wonderful event would occur, because the roads could be very bad so late in the year and Kingstead's count of the moon might not be exactly the same as Grandon's. But Queen Godeleva's two Blades always knew when the day had arrived. They said it was part of the enchantment that bound them, like the sword stroke through the heart.

Sir de Fait nodded and put a finger to his lips.

"Is Mother awake yet?" Malinda spoke loudly, because she knew that nothing would happen until the Queen was up and dressed.

He frowned and shook his head.

Malinda went back inside, slamming the door. She walked across to the window to scowl out at the blue-green sea — white surf and white birds; the cliffs of the coast fading away into misty distance. She saw no whales, no seals, not even fishing boats.

How long to wait? Her mother's hours were unpredictable. She spent nights and days immersed in spiritual lore, poring over books of spells, corresponding with conjurers in both Chivial and other lands, ever seeking an enchantment to bring back the King's love. Once in a while she would emerge to lecture the world on her misfortunes, and then even Malinda was required to address her as Your Majesty or Your Grace. The price of a cuddle on her mother's knee was listening to yet another tirade on the evil deeds of the Monster. She had gradually come to realize that the price was too high. She was well aware that Mistress de Fait and Lady Arabel had effectively adopted her into their families; the Blades were her fathers, their children her siblings. She was, she supposed, grateful. She certainly could not imagine life without them around.

Deciding she would have time to dress properly later, Malinda pulled on what she had been wearing the previous day, except that she chose shoes with harder soles. Then she went in search of breakfast, skipping noisily past her mother's door.

She had a long way to go, but not because Kingstead was large as royal houses went. It wasn't — it had been put together by joining several buildings into one. She slept up on the cliff top; the hall was down in the hollow, among the trees. Lots of stairs. The moment she entered, Dian de Fait came running to hug her. Dian was Malinda's most special friend. They shared a love of horses, hair-raising exploration, and contempt for authority. They had differences, naturally. Dian tended to plumpness, and was ever eager to hug and cuddle; Malinda was gangling and had to watch her royal dignity. Dian kept one arm around her all the way over to the Queen's table, where Lady Arabel and Mistress de Fait sat, deep in conversation.

Sky of Swords. Copyright © by Dave Duncan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 10 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 11 of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2005

    Amazing!

    This novel is one of the best books I have ever read. I loved it!! The characters were so well thought up and the place settings and general book was incredible! So believable...All of Dave Duncan's books are very good but this series and this book are just so amazing! It was great!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2001

    BEST NOVEL I HAVE EVER READ!!!!!!!!!!

    I am a 14yr old teenage girl, I dont read a lot (if at all i read shakespeare and poetry) but this book is by far the best thing i have read in my entire 14yrs of living!!!!!!! I am about 4 chapters away from the end of the book but I CAN wait to get there! I LOVE this author!! VERY talented! I will be a devoted fan and I am going out tomorrow to buy the rest of his books!! I hope he writes a sequel to this particular book!!! BUY THIS BOOK!!You WONT be disapointed!I promise!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2001

    Yes!

    This is one exciting story! It races from beginning to end, so that you get to the end and wonder how you managed to finish so quickly. Duncan is the king of fantastic Adventure.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2001

    Excellent series

    I love this series. It's exciting. It's completely believable. The characters are spectacular. I can't wait for the next one. I plan of buying the hardback this time.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Exciting sword and sorcery tale

    <P>King Ambrose decides it is time to end the war between his kingdom of Chivial and their enemies Baelmark. The clever monarch also figures that this is an opportunity to rid himself of his 'unnecessary', constantly meddling daughter Malinda. She will serve as a bridal pawn that will unite the kingdoms by her marriage to King Radgar of Baelmark. <P>Instead of a joyous occasion, Radgar assassinates Ambrose. Ambrose's out of wedlock son Granville claims himself protector and immediately arrests Malinda. The much younger Amby, heir to the throne, dies. With the rescue by her loyal swordsmen, the Blades, Malinda wonders what to do next as her country falls further into chaos. <P>SKY OF SWORDS, the third 'Tale of the King's Blades' is a well written fantasy for those fans who relish an action packed Medieval novel with a touch of magic in the plot. The story line is fast-paced, but repetitive of similar books including the first two novels in this series. Malinda is a fully developed character, but the other key players such as Ambrose and Radgar are difficult to understand. Still, Dave Duncan provides the hard core fantasy fan with an exciting swashbuckler. <P>Harriet Klausner

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    Posted September 22, 2009

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