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Seven Deadly Swords by Peter Sutton

Seven Deadly Swords by Peter Sutton
3.5
Book Name: Seven Deadly Swords
Author: Peter Sutton
Publisher(s): Grimbold Books
Formatt: Paperback / Ebook
Genre(s): Historical Fantasy / Urban Fantasy / Thriller
Release Date: October 19, 2018

For every sin, a sword 

For every sword, a curse 

For every curse, a death 

Reymond joined the Crusades to free the Holy Land from the Saracens and win glory for himself. Instead, with six others, he found himself bound under a sorcerer’s curse: the Seven Sins personified. Doomed to eternal life and with the weight of the deaths he has caused dragging his soul into the torments of hell, Reymond must find his former brothers-in-arms and defeat them. Riding across a thousand years of history, the road from Wrath to Redemption will be deadly.

Part historical fantasy, part urban. Part quest, part modern relic-centered thriller. Seven Deadly Swords covers a hell of a lot of ground, and several genres too, in a surprisingly concise page count. We start at the beginning of the end, as Reymond embarks on what he prays will be the last round of curse-driven murders he must commit as part of the curse he suffers. Swords, prayers, a lot of unspoken history, and blood. It’s an intriguing setup, and from here Sutton alternates between the present day and various points in the past to show Reymond’s journey across Europe and the Middle East as part of the First Crusade, and his lives afterward. Only gradually does it become clear exactly what this curse entails, exactly what Reymond must do to dispel it and lay his comrades-in-arms to rest for good.

The chapter by chapter movement between the past and the present is quick, and Sutton’s prose is just as fast. He sketches characters through dialogue and simple, terse descriptions; background detail is kept to a minimum, information is often implied far more than freely given. Reymond’s journey becomes a blur through time, as fractured as his fellow soldiers and the lands and lives they pass through. Without the characters of Fisher and Mari to ground it in the present day (well, 2012, but technically more present day that the First Crusade), Seven Deadly Swords could have been lost inside Reymond’s single-minded desires, only occasionally looking out at the world as it passes him by.

The real heart of the story is in the chapters dealing with the First Crusade—the journey across Europe, and the sieges and battles at Antioch and Ma’Arra in the Holy Land. Sutton draws powerfully upon recorded history, including Robert Curthose (Robert of Normandy, a son of William the Conqueror) as a commander of the army that Reymond joins, and the battle scenes utilise the terse prose to full effect. It’s truly thrilling stuff, not quite matched by the sword fights that take place in later ages, as Reymond’s returning spirit haunts his former comrades. There’s a touch of the mystical as well, a strange and unique beast destroyed to cement the pact between the seven soldiers, its magic (or holiness, depending on your point of view) glimpsed all too briefly by Reymond as he misunderstands or misinterprets what is happening around him.

This is where Seven Deadly Swords falters—at times the tight editing and lack of fat on the bone actually works against the story. At its best, it is a cross-genre thriller more than worthy of airport lounges and a full Hollywood treatment; but in other places the detail is too thin on the ground—the narrative seems to skip or miss out things that would flesh it out and explain the workings of the curse or how Reymond manages to track his comrades down, or who Hawksmoor is in the scheme of things. In those parts, it feels as though too much has been cut and thrown away—I would have loved more time in this story.

But for anybody with even a passing interest in the First Crusade, or anything that brings a distinctly modern twist to the old Highlander life-through-history trope, this is well worth dipping into the kitty for. Sutton wields his Seven Deadly Swords with as much ease as Reymond himself.

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