The First Book of Lost Swords: Woundhealer's Story by Fred Saberhagen
I read The Complete Book of Swords just to introduce myself to an older fantasy writer whom I hadn't read before, and I read this one just as a follow-up, perhaps hoping the tale would get better. It didn't. The story is simplistic, with an absolute minimum of characterization. There are a couple of clever moments (e.g. Amintor's desperate gamble while holding Woundhealer), but overall, there's just not much good fantasy "meat" here.
I might recommend this at a 8th-9th grade reading level, but even then, there's much better stuff to read. Read More
Fred Saberhagen is most famous for his Berserker science fiction series. You can read some Berserker stories and gind other information about Mr. Saberhagen at the Fred Saberhagen website.
The Books of Lost Swords — (1986-1994) Publisher: Returning to the milieu of his Swords trilogy, Saberhagen offers a new scenario. The gods have withdrawn from the human world and the 12 Swords of Power they had forged are now scattered, lost and hidden. The weapons are still coveted, though, by men like Baron Amintor, who has lost one kingdom and now sees them as the means to another. No scruples stop him from stealing the sword Woundhealer from the White Temple, where its powers were offered to cure all pilgrims. His bad luck, however, is to have crossed Prince Mark, who is desperate for Woundhealer’s help in treating his blind, troubled son. The running battle between Mark and Amintor, their allies, their wizards and their swords, is spun out in a light, pleasant adventure that benefits greatly from Saberhagen’s narrative gifts as the various strands leapfrog forward, keeping the reader off balance but constantly intrigued.
The First Book of Lost Swords: Woundhealer's Story by Fred Saberhagen
The First Swords (The Complete Book of Swords) by Fred Saberhagen
The First Swords earns a generous 2-1/2 stars, mostly because of the very good premise with the Swords and the setup in the first few chapters of Book One (in which the writing is markedly better than in later chapters — deadline rush?). In essence, the god Vulcan forges 12 magical swords, each with distinctive powers, and lets them loose in the world, in the hands of mortals. From then on, though, the story's a rapid, sometimes confusing yarn where things just don't seem to add up. And, perhaps most glaringly in the light of modern fantasy standards, there is no distinctive characterization. The characters are just shells who ride the whirlwind of the narrative: Mark is a bland hero with a mysterious father; Ben is big and strong and not as dumb as he looks; Barbara is a woman who can use a sling; Baron Doon has ... Read More
Berserker — (1967-2005) Publisher: Saberhagen has given SF one of its most powerful images of future war in his Berserker series. Created for a long-forgotten conflict, the berserkers are implacable, inimical killing machines that have been programmed to rebuild and redesign themselves. Their computer cunning and mechanical evolution present ever-greater challenges to humanity’s scattered colonies. In this latest novel, Saberhagen draws on such epics of vengeance as The Searchers and Moby Dick. The loss of his family and of his left leg drive Niles Domingo to pursue the immense berserker known as Old Blue or Leviathan. Although he succeeds, his fanaticism transforms him into an inhuman acolyte of the godlike machine, a role that comes to define Domingo’s purpose and existence. One of the best entries in the series.
Empire of the East — (1968-1973) Publisher: In the distant future, society has crumbled. Dark forces now rule the land, keeping all humans under their oppressive thumbs. In the darkness of the shadows and whispered on the winds, there is talk of a rebellion. In the swamps, a small band has formed. Determined to regain their freedom, the rebellion, heavily outnumbered, plans to overthrow an army of thousands… with the help of one incredible weapon. It is only a legend, a story left over from the Old World before magic and the wizards came to the land. A weapon of technology. It is the mystical Elephant, and whoever masters it holds the key to freedom, or defeat. One young man, determined to avenge the death of his family, sets out to join the rebellion and find Elephant. What he discovers will change everything.
Dracula — (1975-2000) Publisher: Count Dracula tells his own version of his fateful journey to England in 1891, presenting a surprising revision to the well-known tale.
Mask of the Sun — (1979-1983) Publisher: When Mike Gabrieli’s neer’do’well brother Tom disappears shortly after discovering a fabulously valuable Aztec relic, Mike rightly suspects that this time the family’s black sheep has got himself into the kind of trouble from which even Mike won’t be able to extricate him. But still, Tim is — or was — his brother, and Mike must do what he can. For Mike this is the beginning of an adventure beyond imagining, an adventure that will put him in constant peril of his life as he shuttles between past, present and future of an alternate reality, fighting beside the descendants of the Incas as they battle to erase Pizarro’s bloody footprints from the New World, and secure the reality of their own existence. But is the “alternate reality” really an alternate, or is Mike actually struggling to erase the very future that gave him birth? The answer lies in the source of all his troubles and his only hope of survival: THE MASK OF THE SUN.
Books of the Gods — (1998-2002) Publisher: Ancient Greece has many heroes. Young Jeremy Redthorn, seemingly doomed to virtual slavery as a farm laborer, doesn’t think of himself as one. But when he risks his life for a beautiful, wounded stranger, he soon finds himself on a perilous mission. What he doesn’t realize is that the mask he must deliver can confer upon its wearer the powers of a god. And, unfortunately for Jeremy, that god wants it back.
The Golden People — (1964) Publisher: The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Emiliano Nowell was a world-class genetic engineer. He was also a wealthy & idealistic man w/the time & money necessary to follow his dreams. In secret laboratories far from Earth he used his powers to create 100 genetically perfect children.an enlightened cadre Nowell hoped would lead humanity out of that maze of war, famine, forture & death called History. But the Golden Poeple proved to be mroe intelligent than even he believed possible. Among other frighteningly advanced talents they had the power to mentally influence normal humans. Now, one of them has become the group’s secret leader. His goal is not to help humanity — but to replace it.
The Water of Thought — (1965) Publisher: IT DROVE MEN MAD. ..but each in a different way. In one the effect was total, utter addiction. In another, a compulsion to absolute obedience. In a third, idealistic monomania. In a fourth, unending, all-consuming lust. Of all the enigmas surrounding the planet Kappa, none was more inscrutable than that mysterious liquid central to all the native rites. There was, in fact, only one certainty about it: Now that it threatened to contaminate the worlds of Earth, its source would have to be destroyed — even though for the native Kappans the Water of Thought was as necessary as the Breath of Life itself.
The Veils of Azlaroc — (1978) Publisher: A classic time-travel story. The settlers and tourists on Azlaroc are trapped in an ageless void during Veilfall, when shimmering rays of pure energy fall on the planet and create a time pocket from which there is no escape.
Love Conquers All — (1979) Publisher: In a world where zero population growth is strictly enforced and sexual permissiveness is the chief means of control, a young woman’s decision to bear her third child makes her the target of concerted oppression.
Earth Descended — (1981) Publisher: Pinnacle of creation, or…? It all began on Planet Earth, sometime in the Middle Pleistocene. A ground-running ape stood erect, gazed at the stars…and wondered. Since that distant time and place we humans have ranged far indeed, and changed much – and the traveling and the changing have left us sundered. But no matter how new planets reshape our bodies and new gods reshape our souls, we, and we alone are the EARTH DESCENDED.
Specimens — (1981) Publisher: First, strange odors… and nightmares that stretch across Time. Images of a hideous machine dragging Indians, colonials, slaves to an ancient mound… then a hellish light pulses from a hidden room… and suddenly Dan Post is trapped, his mind sane, but his body possessed by a galactic probe programmed to collect — Specimens. Human specimens. Now, with no hands, no voice, locked in the ultimate prison, Dan must battle an immortal alien machine, even as it forces him to kidnap its final victims… Dan’s two children… and his bride-to-be.
Octagon — (1981) Publisher: Players scattered across the continent are engaged in a game. Each player has certain attributes, including skill, strength, courage, cunning, and daring. Each has his kingdom. Each can ally with or attack any of the others… But one player seems to have confused the reality of the game with the reality of the world: a player with the attributes of machinelike precision and mechanical ruthlessness. His name is Octagon, and he’s out for blood. Even though he doesn’t have any.
The Frankenstein Papers — (1986) Publisher: Lightening and thunder flashed over Bavaria as, in his private laboratory, Victor Frankenstein struggled to bring to life a creature constructed from pieces of the dead — only to find himself confronted by an inhuman monster beyond his control. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, as well as countless horror movies, has made the legend of Frankenstein and his monster famous throughout the world. But what really happened on that dark and stormy night — and in the terrible months that followed? Now, in his own words, the monster reveals the true story of his strange existence. From his harsh awakening in the lab to his desperate struggles in the Arctic, here is a stunning, firsthand account of the tormented relationship between the monster and his creator — as you have never read it before.
Pyramids — (1987) Publisher: Tom Scheffler knew that this great-uncle, Montgomery Chapel, had made his fortune by selling ancient Egyptian artifacts that were finer than those in any museum. Scheffler also knew that — fifty years later — Chapel was still afraid of some man, some entity, known only as Pilgrim. What Scheffler didn’t know — and would learn the hard way — was that Pilgrim was coming back, aboard a ship that traveled both space and time, headed for a confrontation in a weirdly changed past where the monstrous gods of ancient Egypt lay in wait for grave robbers from out of Time.
After the Fact — (1988) Publisher: Promised financial security, Jerry Flint hires on with the mysterious Pilgrim Foundation. Next morning Jerry awakes in 19th century Illinois. His irrevocable assignment: Save President Lincoln from assassination. With only his wits, an unusual natural gift, and Pilgrim’s mysterious pocket watch, Jerry must succeed or remain trapped in a time loop.
The White Bull — (1988) Publisher: In the reign of Minos, King of the Cretans, the gods gave proof of their existence: a bull-headed man accompanied by his bronzen servitor strode forth from Neptune’s realm. At last the gods had removed the veils that separated them from their worshippers… or had they? Strangely enough, the Minotaur forswears all claim to divinity — and his metallic servant cannot speak at all. Instead, he comes to the Greeks bearing gifts of alien knowledge. But Daedelus at least will have cause to beware the teachings of… The White Bull.
Dancing Bears — (1995) Publisher: On the brink of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, an American hunter is chased across Russia by a nobleman with the preternatural ability to turn into a bear — a metaphor of Russia’s own transformation.
Merlin’s Bones — (1995) Publisher: In post-Arthurian England, ten-year old Amby and the troupe of traveling players he belongs to are on the run from a conqueror. He has been gifted with second-sight, and when the troupe stumbles upon an unoccupied castle he is the only one in the group who senses the power that lies within the stone building. In the near future, the Fisher King, Mordred and Morgan le Fay seek to gain control of Dr. Elaine Brusen’s hypostater, a machine capable of altering fundamental reality. Both Amby and Elaine are unwittingly drawn into a power struggle that spans centuries and spills into the realm of fairy and beyond. Saberhagen reworks Arthurian legend and puts Arthur’s survival, the succession of New Camelot and Merlin’s bones on the line with an exciting blend of romance, danger and adventure.
Pilgrim — (1997) Publisher: Who is Pilgrim? Tom Scheffler and Jerry Flint are going to find out the hard way, because the mysterious Pilgrim is going to have them fighting for their lives centuries, millennia before they were born. Pilgrim is the rogue time traveler trying to change the course of history for his own ends. And even if the two hapless adventurers survive Pilgrim’s deadly game, they have no assurance that they will ever see their own timeline again.
Ardneh’s Sword — (2006) Publisher: It’s been a thousand years since the time of Ardneh, the transcendent being that saved humanity from the vicious archdemon Orcus. It was a legendary battle between magic and technology that killed them both, but left behind tales of Ardneh’s heroism and newly found hope for humanity. But in the passing years only a few remain that actually believe these legends as truths. Chance Rolfson comes from a long line of Ardneh’s followers, descendants from Rolf, the illustrious warrior who fought in Ardneh’s name for humanity many years ago. A young man plagued with vivid nightmares, Chance hopes to clear his head by joining a forest expedition that seeks physical proof of Ardneh’s existence. Their goal is to discover the great vault prophesized to hold the savior of humanity’s secrets to his own power and wisdom. But the dangers are high in the dark forests, rife with bandits and demons that no magic can stop. And as Chance’s dreams become clearer, he soon realizes these are not merely dreams but visions, and he alone holds the key to unlocking Ardneh’s greatest gift, known to the followers as Ardneh’s Sword.
Coils — (1982) Publisher: A new entity is being born. Its cells are microprocessors, its soul lives in data banks from Wall Street to Red Square. It is neither good nor evil. But it is very dangerous. The Angra Oil Corporation thinks it is just another resource to be used up…. Coils: The story of a man and a woman trapped in the battle between a soulless corporation and the soul of a new machine.
The Black Throne — (1990) Publisher: As children, Perry, Annie, and Edgar Allen Poe met on a mystical beach out of space and time. Fifteen years later, Perry discovers that he is living the stones written Dy his alter ego, Edgar Allan Poe, as he encounters a world of reality gone mad.