The Gilded Chain (Tales of the King's Blades Series #1)

The Gilded Chain (Tales of the King's Blades Series #1)

by Dave Duncan

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780380791262
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/28/1999
Series: Tales of the King's Blades Series , #1
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 300,262
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.08(d)

About 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.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Treason," Kromman whispered. He repeated the word, mouthing it as if he found the taste pleasing: "Treason! Your treachery is uncovered at last. Evidence has been laid before the King." He smiled and licked his wizened lips.

Human wood-louse!

Roland considered drawing his sword and sliding it into Kromman until the blade would go no farther, then taking it out again — by another route, for variety. That would be an act of public service he should have performed a lifetime ago, but it would create a serious scandal. Word would flash across all Eurania that the King of Chivial's private secretary had been murdered by his lord chancellor, sending courtiers of a dozen capitals into fits of hysterical giggles. Lord Roland must behave himself. It was a pleasing fantasy, though.

Meanwhile, the winter night was falling. He still had work piled up like snowdrifts, a dozen petitioners waiting to see him, and no time to waste on this black-robed human fungus.

Patience! "As you well know, Master Secretary, such rumors go around every couple of years — rumors about me, about you, about many of the King's ministers." Ambrose probably started most of the stones himself, but if his chancellor said so to Kromman, Kromman would tattle back to him. "His Majesty has more sense than to listen to slander. Now, have you brought some business for me?"

"No, Lord chancellor. No more business for you.

Kromman was not hiding his enjoyment; he was up to something. Even in his youth, as a Dark Chamber inquisitor, he hadbeen repugnant — spying and snooping, prying and plotting, maligning anyone he could not destroy. Now, with age-yellowed eyes and hair trailing like cobwebs from under his black biretta, he had all the appeal of a corpse washed up on a beach. Some days he looked even worse. Even the King, who had few scruples, referred to him in private as rat poison. What secret joy was, he savoring now?

Roland stood up. He had always been taller and trimmer than this grubby ink slinger, and the years had not changed that "I won't send for the Watch. IT throw you out myself. I have no time for games."

"Nor I. The games are over at last." Kromman slithered a letter onto the desk with all the glee of a small boy waiting for his mother to open a gift he has wrapped for her. Definitely up to something!

Over by the door, Quarrel looked up from his book with a puzzled expression. No voices had been raised yet, but his Blade instincts were detecting trouble.

Roland's face had given away nothing for thirty years and would not start doing so now. Impassively he took up the packet, noting that it was addressed personally to Earl Roland of Waterby, Companion of the White Star, Knight of the Loyal and Ancient Order of the King's Blades, et cetera, and closed with the privy seal, yet it bore no mention of his high office. That odd combination warned him what he was going to find even before, he lifted the wax with a deft twist of his knife and crackled the parchment open. The ornately lettered message was terse to the point of brutality:

is therefore commanded to divest . . . will absent
himself from business of our Privy Council. . .will
hold himself available to answer certain grave
matters. . . .


His first reaction was sweet relief that he could now throw down all his worries and go home to Ivywalls and the wife whom he had never been allowed time enough to love as she deserved. His second thought was that Kromman, here designated his successor, was an unthinkable choice, totally incapable of handling the work.

He looked up blandly, while his mind raced through this deadly jungle that had suddenly sprung up around him. He should not be surprised, of course. Ambrose IV tired of ministers just as he tired of mistresses or favorite courtiers. The King grew weary and sought new beginnings. He would hope to shed some of his current unpopularity blaming his own mistakes on the man who had faithfully carried out his policies. Loyalty was better to receive than to give.

With the silent grace of an archer drawing a longbow, Quarrel rose to his feet. For most of the last two days, the poor lad had been slouched on the couch by the door, leafing through a book of romantic verse, bored out of his mind. He would have registered that the latest visitor was unarmed when he entered and then lost interest in him.

Now he had sensed something amiss.

"Your treason is uncovered!" Kromman said again, gloating.

Roland shrugged. "No treason. Whatever forgeries you have concocted, Master Kromman, they will not withstand proper examination.

"We shall see."

They stared at each other for a moment, lifelong foes harnessed too long together in service to the same master. Roland could never consider himself guilty of treason under any reasonable definition of the word; but treasonwas a slippery concept a mire he had seen trap many others — Bluefield, Centham, Montpurse. Especially Montpurse. He had organized Montpurse's destruction himself. To be dragged down by the odious Kromman would be excessive irony, though. That would hurt more than the Is ax.

Again he found himself contemplating murder and this time he was not altogether joking with himself; this might be his last chance to slay the vermin. Alas, the revenge he should have taken years ago would now be seen as an admission of guilt so he would die also and leave Kromman as posthumous winner of their long feud. Better, to stay alive and fight, face down the deceit and hope to win, however unlikely that might be — Kromman was very sure of himself.

Meanwhile, the dusty files on the desk and the garrulous petitioners in the waiting room could equally be forgotten.

Table of Contents

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Gilded Chain 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this down! I have to admit, I pulled an all-nighter.... Very, very well done, and this world is splendid. There are two related novels, *Lord of the Fire Lands* and *Sky of Swords*. To tell too much would be unkind, but you really owe it to yourself to read the three of them together. Duncan does something absolutely unprecedented, to my knowledge, and it's brilliant.
Andere More than 1 year ago
This book is wonderful. I absolutely adore all of his King's Blades books and I wish the author had more of them. They're well paced, quick and enjoyable reads. The characters are clever and enjoyable and the plot is quite fun.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this book in a second hand book shop and didn't expect it to be very good, and I was completely taken by surprise at the writing and the amazing story. I love this book to a degree that is truly stupid.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Duncan's entire trilogy of which The Gilded Chain is the first book is phenomenal. Everything a fantasy novel should have is in Duncan's book. Action, love, impressive storyline, and intrigue are all ways to describe this novel. The only problem with reading the entire trilogy is that at times it seems that the facts don't add up. But the overall experience is worth the buy!
Guest More than 1 year ago
An outstanding story of loyalty, love, honor, conjuring and deception. A story of a king and a bonded swordsmen. How people are played as pawns in the game of thrones. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy. All I can say is that I couldn't wait to finish it to find out what happens and I can't wait to read the sequel 'Lord of the Firelands'!
shavienda on LibraryThing 2 days ago
Absolutely wonderful book, I picked it up sometime last night and devoured it within the hours I could before bed, during my watch, and sneaking a peak here and there during lunch and finally after work. Books like this could get a gal like me in trouble, unable to put the damn thing down when it's time to work!I found the characters extremely engaging and wanting to much more about everyone, so I guess it's off to the next book in the series for me!
clong on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This book seems to have gotten generally very positive reviews. I thought it had a promising premise and a very strong beginning, but ultimately left me feeling a bit disappointed. The plot begins to drag in the second section, and ultimately I found the characters neither to be compelling nor sympathetic. Having said that, if you are looking for a quick fantasy read with a little bit of an original twist, by all means give it a try.
ReadingOverTheShoulder More than 1 year ago
I could nitpick but what would be the point. All the important elements are there. The world, while based off medieval Europe, is actually fairly detailed. The magic system fascinates me and is that perfect blend of familiar and totally unique. The plot twists pleasantly and builds wonderfully. Normally I hate main characters, but I love Roland Durendal! I can not recommend this book more highly. For the full review visit us at
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