THE SEER AND THE SWORD by Victoria Hanley


Age Range: 11 & up
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A well-crafted fantasy grapples with the ambiguities of violence. Princess Torina of militaristic Archeld meets Prince Landen of peaceful Bellandra when her father Kareed presents her the boy as a slave, having slaughtered his father, conquered his homeland, and captured their greatest treasure, a magical Sword that supposedly renders the wielder invincible. Torina frees Landen and sends him to the Archeldan barracks. Bullied for his presumed weakness, Landen vows to wreak revenge on Archeld by surpassing their martial prowess. While mastering his military training, he secretly befriends Torina, whose prophetic gifts are revealed by a Bellandran crystal. When the traitor Vesputo murders Kareed, framing Landen and plotting to marry Torina, they escape, hiding under assumed identities. Believing each other to be dead, they separately become invaluable to the High King—Torina as a Seer and Landen as a mercenary captain—as he seeks to bind his warring neighbors into alliance. They foil assassination plots, rescue the Sword, repulse invading barbarians, and yet never cross paths until the climactic confrontation with Vesputo. Hanley pulls off the cleverly constructed plot of her first novel with cinematic panache, piling on hairsbreadth escapes, near misses, and nailbiting cliffhangers. While intelligent, passionate Torina rarely rises above the “feisty redheaded princess” stereotype, Landen is a genuinely intriguing hero: a pacifist warrior who continually struggles with the tragic consequences of failing to oppose evil with force. Unfortunately, Hanley never really resolves this conflict, opting for a deus ex machina to eliminate the despicable Vesputo and leaving her principals guardians of a paradoxical Sword of Peace. Nonetheless, an impressive debut. (Fiction. 11+)

Pub Date: Dec. 15th, 2000
ISBN: 0-8234-1532-5
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Holiday House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2000


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