Contented Reader

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The Privilege of the Sword

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The Privilege of the Sword

Ellen Kushner


My first reaction is, this is a perfect work of escapism.  Katherine, a gently-bred noblewoman, in order to save her family from ruin, has to put herself into the care and control of her uncle, the Mad Duke Tremontaine, whose whim is to dress her as a man and train her in the art of swordfighting.  She will become involved in political machinations, romances, swashbuckling adventures, and naughty naughty naughtiness.  It’s all thrilling and sexy and wish-fulfilling and makes me feel like this is exactly the book I would want to write, if I were to write a book to make me forget about my troubles for a little while.

But unlike most of the books I pick up for pure escapism, this book is not just competently written but elegantly written, with ideas about class and gender that are interesting and repay thoughtful rereading.

Did I mention the beautiful cross-dressing woman with the sword?

I know that this book is part of a larger series set in the same general setting, but the truth is, I don’t have any particular urge to read the others, since I don’t think Katherine is in them.  I’ll just read this one again.  And, I suspect, again.


Written by Contented Reader

October 16, 2012 at 6:22 am

Posted in Reviews


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