Posted on October 20, 2018
Peter Sutton’s latest novel, Seven Deadly Swords, is a tale that spans centuries – from the Crusades to the modern day – and entangles its characters in war, religion and strange magic. If you’re looking for your next fantasy read, this book is released today, so get your hands on a copy here!
[Disclaimer: I was sent a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.]
France, 1097: Reymond lives with his father on their farm near Avignon, but when army recruiters come to town, Reymond joins up and goes to fight in the Crusades for the glory of God.
Iran, 1982: Ex-soldier Fisher is rescued from a shoot-out by a mysterious man called Patience, who is on the hunt for a book and carries – of all things – a sword.
Armenia, 2012: Mari’s father has gone missing and left her family in terrible debt. When men turn up on her doorstep to collect what they’re owed, she has no choice but to go with them.
Three centuries, three people – but how do their lives connect, and what does it have to do with an ancient curse and seven deadly swords?
This is a really well-structured book. The story jumps back and forth in time – from the 21st century to the 11th and everywhere in between – but I never felt lost or confused. Sutton does a good job of grounding each chapter in a place and time right away, and there’s always a familiar character for the reader to follow. There are lots of short, snappy scenes which keep you turning the page (or clicking the button on the Kindle), and Sutton is very skilled at showing just enough: at the end of each chapter, I always wanted more.
The central trio of characters is also strong. Mari proves to be a bit of a badass quite early on, and Fisher is good as the long-suffering ‘sidekick’. Of course, Reymond is the main event: his journey from youthful optimist to jaded soldier and far, far beyond is fascinating to follow, and as a reader I went through a whole range of emotions with him. He isn’t just straightforwardly likeable – he’s complicated and flawed, which I think is important for a protagonist.
But it’s in the battle scenes that Seven Deadly Swords really comes alive. In the eleventh-century sections we follow Reymond as a foot soldier in the Crusades, laying siege to cities and engaging in hand-to-hand combat in wide open plains and tiny, cramped streets. I don’t know much about this era, but it feels like Sutton has really done his homework. Military strategy, siege weaponry, the grit and clash of battle – it’s all in there. Of course, there’s plenty of blood too, so be warned that this book isn’t for the squeamish. I loved it though. There’s no shying away from the viscera and gore and all-out desperation of battle.
Beneath all the historical reality, an undercurrent of magic runs throughout Seven Deadly Swords and joins the disparate storylines together. The central mystery is revealed piece by piece, and Sutton trusts his reader enough to put the puzzle together themselves, rather than explain every detail along the way.
I really enjoyed Seven Deadly Swords. It is both epic and intimate, viewing grand battles through the eyes of one soldier, and reaching across centuries to tell the tale of a single, personal quest.
“War, yes? It is different. Lots of boredom, yes, amongst the terror.”
Have you read this book? I’d love to know your thoughts!
If you want to read it, you can buy Seven Deadly Swords here.
[Disclosure: Above is an affiliate link. If you buy a book through that link, I get a small cut, at no extra cost to you.]