Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Ellen Kushner - Swordspoint

In a nameless city with the elegance of Regency London, the decadence of eighteenth-century Paris, and the hard edge of modern New York, an array of glittering characters weave intrigues that will capture them all in a net of love and death, wit and treachery.
In Riverside, a violent district of twisted streets and ruined houses inhabited by the criminal elite, there are men who must earn their living by fighting to the death. Most last only a season or two before they die. Even Richard St Vier, the finest swordsman in the city, lives his life at swordspoint.
On the Hill, the elite of the city—the beautiful Diane, Duchess of Tremontaine; Lord Horn, a languid, aging libertine; the dangerous Lord Ferris, one-eyed Dragon Chancellor of the Council of Lords; and the young rake Michael Godwin—throw sumptuous barge parties, attend the theatre, plot and scheme, slip in and out of romantic liaisons. But there is a plot afoot to gain control of the city, and the chosen instrument is Richard St Vier.
And if St Vier does not wish to be used, they will force him, even if it tears the fabric of the city apart…

Comment: Another one of the many books I got somewhere between 2008 and 2011, at a time paperback editions were much cheaper in certain online retail stores and when I was devoted to collect as many as I could, especially the first of a series, hoping they would be the beginning of my love affair with many of them.

In this fantasy world, rich and influential people on the privileged side of the city don't do their own battles, they pay a swordsman to do that, and such is the occupation of Richard St Vier, a recognized profession in this field. However, on a certain occasion things don't go as usual and now Richard and his companion, the mysterious Alec,must face danger and prove their side isn't the guilty one. But society is alive with intrigue and manipulations, could these two, along with those who help them, prove there is a lot more to problems arising than anyone could anticipate?

As immediately evident from the number I added below at the end of my text, I didn't finish this book. I also struggled to write a simple summary above, because I still can't say much about the book; I barely understood what was going on. I've read until page 134 of my edition and then skimmed until the end, just to see if something major would be mentioned, but to be honest, this one did went by without much attention on my side...

I added it to my TBR because it would be fantasy, it would feature LGBT characters and when I got it, these two aspects were enough to make me curious about a big number of novels, including this one. I don't think my disappointment is only a matter of having waited too long to get to it, though. In fact, I feel the plot just didn't grab me as I can only imagine it wouldn't have either had I started the book 12 years ago...

The first paragraph is magnificent, such a good description and so atmospheric...I imagined this could only go well forward but after a few pages my focus on what I was reading started to disappear. The characters never felt like people I could root for, I struggled to understand their motivations, their personalities and why they behaved a certain way. Pretty much everything seemed to be confusing and over done and the beautiful writing style, which I had felt was well done at first, became confusing and less appealing page by page.

Apart from the fact this is a fantasy about people who live in a wealthy area and people who live in a poor one, and that somehow a crime was committed, I confess I can't say much about this novel. I've read reviews by other readers and usually that is the fun part, often I can think of things I might have missed while I was reading and, in this case, that did help me a little. This said, I don't feel like trying anything by the author, no matter how well liked her work is...I do feel a little sad but...the TBR is still huge...
Grade: 1/10 DNF

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