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 character and surrounding him with exposure to other legendary characters and the solid foundation of the King’s Blades series. This makes for an enjoyable, fun read if you have already been immersed in the series. The quirks and strengths that make Stalwart who he is are central to the story line.
I really enjoy the way that Dave Duncan creates new main characters for each installment in the series. He doesn’t just write the same guy with a different name, and that makes it fun to explore. It’s not epic fantasy, but it’s fun when you are taking a break between the Erikson and Wurts’ series that demand so much concentration.