The Gilded Chain by Dave Duncan
Fantasy books can be like beverages: you have your exquisitely aged wines (The Lord of the Rings, Mists of Avalon); your rich ports and liquors (the works of Guy Kay and Patricia McKillip); your searingly clear vodka (A Song of Ice and Fire); your boxed wines (The Wheel of Time, Read More
Dave Duncan(1933- )
Dave Duncan resides in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He has also written under the name Ken Hood. Here’s Dave Duncan‘s website.
Tales of the King’s Blades — (1998-2004) Publisher: The grim school of Ironhall takes in unwanted, rebellious boys and five years later sends forth the finest swordsmen in the world, the King of Chivial’s Blades. Bound to absolute loyalty by a magical sword-stroke through their hearts, they stand ready to defend the King or whomever else he designates against all perils, whether human or sorcerous. Each book in this trilogy stands alone, but together they make a larger story. The Gilded Chain tells of the greatest swordsman Ironhall has produced in its long history, Sir Durendal. When King Ambrose needs a Blade to accompany his agent on a dangerous mission to the far ends of the Earth, he naturally chooses young Durendal. Alas, even the plans of kings can go sadly awry.
The Gilded Chain by Dave Duncan
The King’s Daggers — (1999-2001) Young adult, set in the King’s Blades world. Publisher: The world’s most deadly assassin has been hired to kill King Ambrose. Only Emerald can identify the killer’s evil magic and only Stalwart knows what he looks like. They must trap the killer before he can strike at the King — or at them, if he sees them first. All Wart’s superb skill with a sword will not avail against this terrible foe.
Sir Stalwart by Dave Duncan
Dave Duncan delivers a fun, sword & sorcery romp in a short book that you don't need to invest hours slogging through. Too often there are books out there that simply can't stand on their own without being 800-900 pages in length and Duncan seems to avoid this.
Now, if you have never read any of the King's Blades before, there are some gaps in this story line that will not make as much sense for you. The concept of soldiers who are magically indentured to their King and thereby granted exceptional skills and unfailing loyalty is cool. The rest of the books in this series seems to go into more detail on that.
Sir Stalwart focuses on one particular soldier (Blade-to-be) and the mission for which he becomes famous. Duncan does a good job of building a complete ch... Read More
The Brothers Magnus — (2010-2011) Publisher: For centuries the baronial Magnus family has been famous for producing both swordsman and sorcerers. Alas, the days of chivalry are over and penniless younger son Anton Magnus has been forced to enlist in the royal hussars as a mere lancer. His future looks grim and unprofitable. Inexplicably, he is summoned to the palace in the middle of the night and offered everything he could possibly hope to earn in a whole lifetime of service to his king — an earldom, wealth, high rank in the nobility, a great castle, and the hand of a beautiful heiress. The only snag is that the enemy is at the gates with guns and sorcery. Without supernatural assistance he cannot hope even to reach hisnew domain in time to organize its defense, let alone live to enjoy it. Many Magnuses in the past have possessed sorcerous powers. Anton is not one of them. But he takes the job anyway.
Speak to the Devil by Dave Duncan
Speak to the Devil, the first novel in Dave Duncan's new The Brothers Magnus series, is set in Jorgary, a fictional country inserted smack in the middle of late 15th-century Europe. Aside from this new country, the second main divergence from the actual history is a form of magic called Speaking, which involves asking saints (or according to the Church, demons) for intercession.
Anton Magnus, a young and ambitious hussar in the Jorgarian army, asks his squire and younger brother Wulfgang for some help catching the eye of the rich and powerful during a royal hunt. After all, the Magnus family is desperately trying to raise money to ransom Vlad, yet another brother, who was captured during a recent war — and if that involves asking Wulfgang for a risky display of the forbidden Speaking magic, so be it.
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Against the Light by Dave Duncan
The forces of the Earth Mother are being oppressed by the Hierarchy, which is guided by the light, in Dave Duncan’s Against the Light. The Children of the Mother are being hunted down and taken into custody where they are tortured by dungeon masters that recall the Spanish Inquisition. Sadly, as Rollo Woodbridge finds out, the Hierarchy has many weapons in addition to surprise in their arsenal. Against such determined zealots, how can Children of the Mother survive?
Unlike the followers of the Light, the Children have magical gifts. Some followers can “inspire” emotions in the people around them. “Mastery” is more or less like the Imperius curse. Some of... Read More
The Seventh Sword — (1988-2012) Publisher: Wally Smith, having died on Earth, finds himself reincarnated as a swordsman in another world and entrusted by the presiding goddess with a mission that has no appeal for him at all. Goddesses can be very persuasive…
A Man of His Word — (1990-1992) Publisher: Many races inhabit the land of Pandemia — imps, elves, fauns, djinns, and more. Only in remote Krasnegar do businesslike imps and warlike jotnar live in harmony. When Holindarn, king of that land, learns that he is dying, he sends his only child, Princess Inos, away to safety in the Impire, knowing that she cannot inherit peacefully. But the kingdom is the least part of her inheritance, for she is widely believed to have inherited a word of power as well. Only the stable boy Rap remains loyal. Realizing her danger, he sets off on a fearful trek through goblin-haunted frozen wastes to bring her warning. But Rap, too, is suspected of knowing one of those priceless words, and evil is on his track. So begins the saga…
A Handful of Men — (1992-1994) Sequel to A Man of His Word. Publisher: Beautiful Queen Inos married the loyal stableboy Rap and made him her king. They were very much in love, and they lived happily ever after. Fifteen years went by Rap and Inos were comfortable, secure, and truly happy, raising their family in the little backwater kingdom of Krasnegar, well removed from the hurly-burly of great affairs… But in far-off Hub, the old Imperor’s health — and, some said, his sanity — deteriorated inexorably. The borderlands were seething, Prince Emshandar — or Shandie, as Rap knew him — found himself leading his grandfather’s armies into terrible battles where victory and justice hung in gravest doubt. And now the end of the millennium was at hand, ushered in by prophecies of cataclysmic upheaval on a scale never before imagined. All across Pandemia, sensible people tried to dismiss a growing sense of unease as superstitious nonsense. Then a God appeared to Rap and warned him that the prophecies spoke the least of the truth. Devastation was a certainty; total destruction loomed. The very fabric of the world was at risk. And it was all Rap’s fault. The lasting in the world Rap had wanted was another adventure. And it might be the last thing he would ever get..
The Omar books — (1992-1995) Publisher: Omar had been everywhere and seen everything, but he had never met a god. Thus, when the Vorkan Horde overran the Spice Lands, Omar hurried to Zanadon because it was well known that whenever that ancient city was in peril, its patron god Balor would return to earth to lead its armies in person. That was the plan anyway…
The Great Game — (1995-1997) Publisher: World War I rages in Europe. Edward Exeter has been named in an ancient prophecy as the Liberator who will bring death to Death in the alternative world called Nextdoor. Death seeks to balk the prophecy by killing Edward first, and the battle continues on two worlds. As in most of my stories, the system of magic used is not your usual run-of-the-mill sorcery. Why did I set the real-world part of the story in 1914? That becomes clear as the series unfolds.
The Years of Longdirk — (under the pseudonym Ken Hood, 1995-1998) Publisher: The outlaw Longdirk wields a wicked sword in the Scottish highlands of 1244, but strange demon winds are howling across the lochs and the enemy Sassenach king is a sorcerer whose Black Arts can free Europe from the Golden Horde.
The Dodec books — (2006-2007) Publisher: Bloodlord Stralg invaded Florengia with his horde of warriors, all of whom were sworn members of the cult of Weru, god of War. Aided by god-given powers, they destroyed every force that dared oppose them. To spare his city from inevitable sack, the Doge of Celebre opened its gates to the invaders and swore allegiance to the Bloodlord. His four children were taken hostage as guarantors of his good faith. They were sent away to a distant land, and separated.
Venice Trilogy — (2007-2009) Publisher: When a senior Venetian nobleman dies suddenly, people whisper that his death was predicted by Maestro Nostradamus, and the famous clairvoyant must have poisoned him to fulfill his own prophecy. The doge himself warns the Maestro to flee the city, but the old man determines instead to solve the murder — by magic and the efforts of his apprentice, Alfeo Zeno. Young Alfeo is accustomed to doing the legwork and he can call on the help of Violetta Vitale, the most sought-after courtesan in Venice, but can even Alfeo take on demons, assassins, and even the dreaded Council of Ten, all at the same time?
A Rose-Red City — (1987) Publisher: The city of Mera is a fortress hidden from the rest of humanity, a sanctuary for the diverse group of people rescued from death by the Oracle that rules the city. The Oracle has brought together the citizens of Mera from every land and every time period, protecting them from the ravages of time, death and the evil demon forces that howl outside the city at night. All that the Oracle asks in return is a willingness to aid the rest of humanity, calling the citizens to go forth on various missions of rescue to mortals in need of aid. The Oracle sends Jerry out into the wilderness, accompanied by his ancient Greek friend, Killer, a world-famous lecher and juvenile delinquent with deadly combat skills. There they must rescue a woman named Ariadne, on the run with her children and seeking shelter. But children are not allowed in Mera, and Ariadne will not leave them, while Mera’s evil demon enemies move closer and closer to Jerry’s and Killer’s temporary place of respite.
Shadow — (1987) Publisher: Sald Harl would like nothing more than to soar on the wings of his noble eagle, but his youthful rides in the sky are cut short by an appointment to guard the prince. Sald watches his dreams of flight fade with his name and independence as he takes over his bodyguard duties. During a perilous journey to the edges of the kingdom a dark secret comes to life. Now the great Prince Shadow is accused of treason, and Sald must orchestrate a desperate plan of escape or he will lose the one thing he has been ordered to defend. His only option for freedom is a dangerous flight that no one has ever survived. Once again Sald hopes to feel the freedom of soaring though the air unshackled from servitude.
West of January — (1989) Publisher: Set on a distant planet, far in the future, WEST OF JANUARY tells the story of a world in which the sun moves across the sky with agonizing slowness. It takes lifetimes for a region to experience dawn, midday and dusk and because of this the planet’s population does not remember the catastrophes that occur as the sun moves across the sky — entire civilizations have been scorched into oblivion. The only people who remember the dangers of the past are the planet’s “angels” — a people who have tried to preserve past technologies and the ancient knowledge and who work to try and save the other people from the destruction that threatens them when the sun moves. The hero of this book, Knobil, was born among the herdsmen, a primitive civilization in which the men kill each other and exile their sons so that each man can have as many women and children as possible. Knobil, however, is the son of an angel, and his destiny leads him to move among all the other peoples of his world — the beautiful but unthinking seafolk, the cruel slavers, the manipulative traders and, worst of them all, the spinsters whose deadly secret he discovers nearly too late. This action-filled story of a very strange planet showcases Duncan’s remarkable ability to create unique worlds.
Strings — (1990) Publisher: Alya has an almost magical talent. Her hunches are never wrong. The scientists of planet 4-I want to use her talent and promise her a spot on the next offworld colonization team in return for her assessment of the potential of the latest worlds they’ve discovered. But Alya meets Cedric, the grandson of the brilliant and tyrannical director of 4-I and she begins to doubt her own intuition.Cedric has dreamed of becoming a scout and exploring new worlds and when he meets Alya he is more determine
Hero! — (1991) Publisher: Space opera at its finest and most action-filled, from the best-selling author of fantasy quests, epic tales, and swashbuckling adventures. Vaun, born a peasant in the stinking mud flats of Ult, a thriving colony planet, claws his way to survival and fame by becoming the toughest young officer in the Space Patrol. A veteran of the brutal training academy, he seizes opportunities as they arise, leading the first ship out against a surprise attack by the mysterious Brotherhood. He returns to a hero’s welcome as the Brotherhood ship falls to the surface of his home planet in shattered pieces. The Brotherhood is elsewhere unstoppable, though, as neighboring plants, one by one, fall silent, conquered. And then, the Patrol detects a huge spacecraft launched from one of the now-silent worlds and headed for Ult. Facing a challenge greater than he can truly hope to overcome, Vaun nonetheless sets out to save Ult for a second time….
The Cursed — (1995) Publisher: The world was desperate. Since the empire had fallen a hundred years ago, Gwin and her people had nearly given up hope that the Renewer would come? Gwin had lost everything. Her husband was killed in one of the wars. Her children died of Star Sickness. Even her work at the hostel was in jeopardy because the politicians had it out for her. The cursed Gwin, therefore, had nothing to lose? When she took in the girl, a survivor of the Star Sickness, it was a dreadful crime. Gwin was at the end of her rope, and possibly the end of her life if she was found out? But the Sickness had left the girl with certain magic, certain powers which could prove very useful to them both. Was it possible that this young survivor could save their lives and the empire? Was a new life for Gwin and her world finally at hand?
Ill Met in the Arena — (2008) Publisher: The nobles of Aureity have been breeding their children for psychic powers for generations. Women’s powers are mental, including psychic control and mind-reading, making them ideal rulers. Men have superhuman strength and can teleport to any place they have previously visited. Consequently, young noblemen make their fortune by competing in psychic gladiatorial contests to display their powers in the hope of being hired — and married — by women of high rank. When Quirt, an older man with obvious skill but little known record, first enters the arena, the combat circuit is abuzz wondering who he might be. But his mystery is almost eclipsed by the young cub who has been entering competitions anonymously and winning them all. Barely in his teens, full of raw power but short on training or patience, Humate is so horrified when he’s bested by Quirt that he insists on finding out where he came from. Unfortunately for Humate, the answer reaches far beyond his birth: back to the terrible wrongs done to Quirt’s mother and his new wife by one of Humate’s relatives, and back to Quirt’s sentencing, a doom which takes away his identity until he can bring the culprit to justice. Humate is in deep denial about this familial scandal generations deep, but Quirt must try to covince him to help, compelled by his doom and by the stirrings of a new love that cannot possibly be realized in his nameless condition. No one ever said revenge was going to be easy.
Pock’s World — (2010) Publisher: Pock’s World, long settled by humankind, is accused of being infected by humanoid aliens. It has been quarantined and may have to be sterilized. Five people are chosen to go there and examine the evidence: saintly but ruthless Father Andre; Ratty Turnsole, a muckraking reporter ripe for romance; ambitious politician Athena Fimble; manipulative bureaucrat Millie Backet; and shady billionaire Linn Lazuline. Some of them carry grudges – all have their own agendas. Pock’s World surprises them all. Nothing is what they expect. Quickly entangled in love, politics, religion, and deceit, they discover that the clock is already ticking and the fate of humanity itself is at stake.
Wildcatter — (2012) Publisher: As long as there is money to be made, there will be Wildcatters. Throughout human history wildcatters, the first great explorers and prospectors to lay claim to newly discovered lands, have marched to the beat of a different drummer — motivated by a deep yearning to be the first to walk on uncharted land and benefit from treasures yet to be discovered. In the future, wildcatters in space will travel to exoplanets, located in The Big Nothing, to search for new chemicals which, when transformed into pharmaceuticals, will bring untold wealth and fame to the individuals and corporations that stake their claim for exclusive exploitation rights. Such is the quest of the crew of the independent starship Golden Hind, whose mission is to travel a year and a half to “Cacafuego”, beat the larger corporations to the exoplanet’s resources, and strike it rich for themselves. But will a yellow warning flag, planted above the planet, stop them? Or will the Golden Hind’s prospector foray to the planet’s surface, possibly to never return alive? Wildcatter is a raucous tale of mystery, greed and passion, told by master story teller Dave Duncan, once himself a for-real wildcatter!