Review: The Swordbearer

Posted: August 17, 2009 by in Books that are Mediocre (3/5 single_star) Meta: Glen Cook, Fantasy

THE RETURN OF THE BLACK COMPANY (With Amazon), a Tor published omnibus, coming next month we thought we should get some Glen Cook on the site in preparation.

THE SWORDBEARER (Amazon) is one of a number of Glen Cook’s earlier works that is being reprinted by Nightshade Books. It was written, originally, in 1982 and showcases a lot of the themes and ideas that would later be used in what we, and many others, consider one of the greatest entries into the military fantasy genre, THE BLACK COMPANY.

As per Glen Cook’s usual, THE SWORDBEARER is a fast-paced, action-packed tale. It follows a somewhat traditional fantasy story, with a magical sword taking center stage in the hands of a boy protagonist, Gathrid. The writing is very indicative of the genre in the ’80s. For readers today, this book does nothing groundbreaking. Many of the familiar fantasy tropes are present and there are more than a handful cliches tossed about.

To be honest, THE SWORDBEARER doesn’t showcase Cook’s writing very well, and the there are really no surprises in the telling of the tale. Regardless the 256 page novel moves quickly and if the reader can ignore some of the faults in the meat of the book, it is an enjoyable read.

As per Glen Cook's usual, THE SWORDBEARER is a fast-paced, action-packed tale, with traditional fantasty elements, including a magical sword.

The character’s development only scratches the surface, and leaves the reader guessing a lot of the time. The story reminds us of classic sword and sorcery fantasy in every way possible.

At best the book is a light read for a quick afternoon, but anyone expecting anything more will be disappointed and should look to something else. Any fans of Glen Cook will probably derive a lot of enjoyment from the book than anyone else as it provides a lot of insight into the growth of the writer.

  • Recommended Age: 16+
  • Language: Really nothing explicit
  • Violence: Well, what are you expecting from a book entitled THE SWORDBEARER? "A grease-down and shiatsu?" As Turkish (Amazon) would say.
  • Sex: Not so much

We have met and talked with Glen Cook on a few occasions and he is, without a doubt, one of the nicest and humblest guys you could have the pleasure of meeting. Pick up his Black Company books, they are as good today as they were when he first wrote and published them. Also, check out his newest books: THE TYRANNY OF THE NIGHT (Amazon) and THE LORD OF THE SILENT KINGDOM (Amazon).

Send some love to Tor and Nightshade for their reprints of the Black Company and Dread Empire series respectively.

Also if you’re like us (and we know you want to be) you probably love the cover art for THE SWORDBEARER as much as we do. You can thank Raymond Swanland for this gem, as well as all of the cover art for Glen Cooks latest books and reprints. Check him out at:

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