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Sorry, not laughing. After all those road adventures and mishaps, I don't believe the idea of a smooth happily-ever-after. Obviously these things bothered me enough that I still remember them over ten years later. All of this said, I did still like this book a lot as a young teen, but I don't think it would be a favorite anymore.

Nov 26, Bethany rated it it was amazing Shelves: more-than-once. When I was young, I read this book several times. It was one of the only books I can ever remember re-reading. I still remember so much of the story, and I have so many fond memories of it. Feb 04, Laura rated it liked it. This is a good book for a young female audience.

The main part of the story focuses on a girl's journey to independence. There's not a lot of character or scene development, but it moves quickly. The ending is also kind of abrupt. Feb 11, KaDee rated it really liked it. I really liked this book, but I thought that the ending was really abrupt.

Dec 27, Kelly R rated it it was amazing Shelves: grp-children , grp-children-older , favorites-rereadable. I read this book when I was really young, I remember loving it then, but I don't know If I still love it. Feb 11, LeAnne rated it liked it Shelves: 14th-c , historical-fiction , young-adult-fiction. A first novel that is a bit modern in its viewpoint for the 14th century. Sep 21, Kara rated it really liked it Shelves: ya. Sep 06, Rachel rated it really liked it. Good story but the ending felt rushed.

Nov 30, SBC rated it it was ok Shelves: genre-childrens-historical. The historical setting was interesting but the story had lots of inconsistencies and things I found unconvincing.

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Saadiyah rated it it was amazing May 01, Sheila rated it it was ok Aug 15, Nataliexotchitl rated it it was amazing Aug 16, Gigi rated it it was amazing Sep 07, Lynne rated it liked it Aug 19, Amanda rated it really liked it Mar 04, Ellie rated it it was ok May 29, Jesse Sherman rated it liked it Oct 19, Amanda rated it it was amazing Jan 01, Nicole rated it did not like it Jul 10, Leah rated it it was amazing Feb 24, Kathy rated it liked it Apr 21, Emily rated it liked it Aug 05, Maggie rated it liked it Feb 08, Laura C Stone rated it it was amazing Jun 17, Nell rated it really liked it Feb 19, Jessica Tonnies rated it liked it Jan 08, There are no discussion topics on this book yet.

Young Adult. About Berit Haahr. Berit Haahr. Berit Haahr is a writer and a teacher who lives in Pennsylvania. Garth's finding spell goes awry and he changes Cat into a tawny cat - with no idea how to change her back. In their search for Cat's father, and for a way to change Cat back into a girl, they discover a plot to assassinate the Queen of Freya and start a war with the country's neighbour, Uglessia.

Because they're the only people who can stop it, the two are drawn together in a desperate struggle to prevent tragedy. She also produced the best-selling fantast title The Broken Thread. She published several children's pictures books, and poetry and short fiction in literary periodicals. The Book of Swords series blends science fiction and fantasy to create unique [ citation needed ] takes on the staples of both genres.

The back-story to the Swords universe is explained in Saberhagen's Empire of the East series. The books are set far into the future. Approximately 50, years before the story, sometime during the third millennium , mankind was almost driven to extinction by a global apocalypse brought on by a nuclear World War prior to the events in Empire of the East.

An intelligent supercomputer, ARDNEH which was formerly part of an American nuclear response system , initiated a physical change to the structure of the world. Unintentionally combined with a similar system on the other side of the world, this change negated the effects of atomic weaponry and most other forms of high technology, and introduced other side effects, such as the creation of magic , gods , and demons. The gods of the Swords universe are based on various mythological deities, with most coming from the Greco-Roman and Hindu pantheons.

When this fact is discovered during the game of the Swords, the gods begin to slowly lose power and then disappear altogether. Despite these gods having no innate powers, they were worshiped widely at the height of their popularity. Thus, for most of the series, the various gods and goddesses hold enormous power over mankind. When the gods descend from the heavens to deal with mortals, they are physically larger than men, have nearly infinite physical power, can seemingly break the laws of nature at will and harness magic effortlessly. The gods, having become bored with mankind, devised a grand game of survival of the fittest to be played out on earth.

They created Twelve Swords of Power , and scattered them throughout the world, planning to watch and wager over the chaos that ensued. However, the gods found out that the Twelve Swords hold power over, and can even kill gods. Realizing that their gods are mortal, mankind begins to question belief and faith in them. This eventually leads to the demise of the gods. The Demons of Saberhagen's Swords universe are the remnants of atomic or other high-power weapons detonations, rendered anthropomorphic by The Change. They can take on various forms and appearances, but their natural form is a free-floating, possibly radioactive cloud.

Their presence can sicken and injure those who have not magically prepared themselves to resist them. A demon's power is greater than that of any human, though sufficiently strong wizards can experience substantial success in warding them off or even controlling them, though demons vary widely in power. The strongest demons are either extremely difficult or impossible to control. A typical demonic attack consists of the demon enveloping a person or animal and then devouring their life essence, which is a uniquely painful experience that the demon can prolong almost indefinitely if it wishes, though they have other methods of magic and quasi-material attack available as well.

All demons have a "source of life", which is usually hidden within a fairly innocuous object like a mirror, charm, bottle, or weapon compare to djinn. This object does not bear any relation to the demon's physical presence. However, if it is found, control can be exerted over the demon it belongs to, as harm or destruction to the life source will translate directly to the demon.

All demons have names, which they jealously guard. To know a demon's true name is to hold a great degree of power and influence over it. Knowing their name strengthens binding spells against the creature. Demons can be harnessed and used in these ways for swift transportation, skilled assassins, and horrific—but effective—bodyguards.

One must be very careful in dealing with demons, as they resent being controlled and will exact a horrible vengeance on their masters if ever they are able to throw off their yoke. Demons are powerless before the Emperor. Any of his children and to a lesser extent, their children, etc. Magic is an arcane and subtle art in the Swords universe. It takes a lifetime of training and dedication to pull off the simplest of parlor tricks.

The most powerful sorcerers often have several lifetimes of mastery under their belt, as these mighty few have learned to delay aging and death, usually sacrificing their humanity somewhere along the way.

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Magic is very fragile; unsheathed blades and other iron or steel objects degrade its power significantly. Thus it has limited martial uses. It is most often used to influence others, to mentally suggest or trick, to tame or calm. It can be used to accelerate healing, and dispel the effects of alcohol and drugs.

Many times, armor or other implements are charmed by the use of symbols and spells to enhance their effectiveness. Magic can be layered on over time, increasing its effectiveness.

The Minstrel's Tale

If one wanted to shut a door, one could spend literally weeks and months enchanting it, adding one spell on top of another, creating a magical barrier that could stop a determined intruder for days on end. Wizards require both natural talent and great training to develop their art. However, this also imparts sensitivity to magical effects, which can have downsides. For example, in the Second Book of Swords, a treasure hoard was protected behind a magical maze. Magical sensitivity was required to navigate the maze successfully, but the maze's magical nature subjected Wizards to constant magical attack.

Like demons , wizards are very picky about who knows their true name, for they are especially vulnerable to spells and magic incorporating this information. There are three major religious sects in the Swords universe. Although many privately worship their own gods or goddesses in small shrines spread throughout the land, these three are institutions that can be found no matter where one goes.

The colors coincide with the colors of the American flag; since multiple continents are mentioned in the series, this would strongly indicate that the stories take place in North America. Many of the leading healing centers and hospitals are actually White Temples, and most of what one thinks of as traditional "holy men" are servants of White.

A Minstrel's Tale by: Kevin Briggs (part 2)

In addition to their roles as caregivers, they also pray over the dead, give spiritual guidance, help to the poor, and give sanctuary to the weak. The Red Temple is concerned with worship of the flesh. Its chief goddess is Aphrodite. The Red Temple provides and controls much of the traffic in prostitution and drugs, although they also encourage free love , gambling, gluttony, excessive drinking, or anything else that one can derive pleasure from. Most reputable citizens publicly repudiate the goings on at the Red Temple. The Blue Temple worships money, and is concerned with the finding, acquiring, and possession of it as an end to itself.

It hoards staggering wealth, but never does anything with it. At one point the Blue Temple hoarded four of the Twelve Swords of Power , including Shieldbreaker , which they never used for fear of losing them. The Blue Temple Hoard is the famous secret depository of their holdings, and is guarded by a dragon, a demon, a host of enchanted and enslaved soldiers, and the finest physical and magical locks that can be obtained or devised. Security is so absolute that only two or three people at one time ever know its location, and Blue Temple recruits that are used to bring new loot to the Vault are executed immediately on site after their delivery is complete.

It acted to preserve and defend the remnant of humanity from the effects of a global apocalypse that occurred thousands of years ago. Though the original ARDNEH was destroyed thousands of years ago, it lives on in legend, as a benevolent god worshiped by many, most notably the disciples of the White Temple. Ardneh is depicted in art as having an impossibly broad face with a neutral expression, that gives the vague impression of machinery to those looking at it.

This computer is the one responsible for keeping the effects of The Change in place during the time of the Swords. Mark is the purported son of the blacksmith Jord, one of the conscripted smiths that aided Vulcan in forging the Swords, losing his arm in the process. Jord received Townsaver as "payment" for his services. A decade later, as the rich and powerful become aware of the Swords, a Duke's cousin, along with the court magician, and their two bodyguards, attempt to take Townsaver from Jord.

The Wilful Princess and the Piebald Prince

After Mark's brother Kenn, who had been sent to fetch the sword, returned holding the sword by the hilt, a group of bandits, who appeared to be primarily after the duke's cousin, attacked the group. It is at this point the magical powers of the sword manifested, and defeated the attacking bandits. It did not, however, protect Mark's brother from being fatally injured, and as soon as the battle ended, he died. During the battle Mark accidentally killed the duke's cousin while trying to shoot a bandit with his bow. At his mother's behest, he takes the Sword and flees for his life, as the Duke begins to seek the Sword in earnest.

Even from an early age, Mark is tall and has strength of mind and character. He joins the ranks of the Arthurian Sir Andrew as a teenager, and follows him in many battles against the evil warlords bent on controlling the Swords. In one mission, Mark manages to rescue the princess regent of the land of Tasavalta, becoming her consort in the process. This leads to Mark becoming prince and ruler over the small kingdom.

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Tasavalta becomes home to many of the Swords, where they are heavily guarded and kept out of the hands of evildoers. Mark eventually finds out that his biological father was not Jord, but that he is one of the many illegitimate children of the Emperor.

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This gives him several mystical powers in addition to his considerable mundane ones. Mark is the principal protagonist of the series, and probably the single most experienced human in dealing with the Twelve Swords of Power , with the possible exception of Jord.

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Mark also has the ability to banish demons just by invoking the name of the emperor his true biological father to great distances and any human or object being carried by the demon. The true extent of how far the demon goes seems to grow stronger as Mark uses this ability. At one point he banished a demon carrying the dark king Vilkata who was in possession of the mindsword to the moon. Ben becomes Mark 's best friend after he is forced to flee from the wrath of the Duke. They remain steadfast friends throughout the series.