ARDNEH’S SWORD by Fred Saberhagen


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From the versatile Saberhagen (Berserker’s Star, 2003, etc), a sequel to Empire of the East (not reviewed), which featured the apocalyptic meltdown of technology and the rise of magic, demons and other fantasy elements.

A millennium later, young Chance Rolfson, descendant of Empire’s hero, leads an expedition into the desert in search of ancient artifacts, especially those connected to Ardneh, humanity’s transcendent champion. Under mysterious circumstances, Chance, plagued by strange dreams and episodes of sleepwalking, comes into possession of a pendant, Ardneh’s Key, which turns him invisible when danger threatens. Pursued by bandits, the expedition heads for the compound that houses Ardneh’s servants, healers and magicians, where Rolf meets young apprentice magician Abby. As the bandits approach, all take refuse in a cavern, where Rolf is alternately helped by a djinn named Zalmoxis and threatened by a demon named Avenarius; both beings insist he must use Ardneh’s Key to find Ardneh’s Sword, a great treasure—but what kind of treasure, nobody knows. As the siege continues, Draffut, a huge, beast-like creature who survived the battle a thousand years ago, shows up to assist the defenders—but even this mighty being can’t help Chance against the demon, or say what, exactly, Ardneh’s Sword might be.

Meandering and unsurprising; will fill in some gaps for long-time Saberhagen fans, but has little to offer readers who are not already committed.

Pub Date: May 2nd, 2006
ISBN: 0-765-31210-7
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2006


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