Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance
Sylvain is a wizard, travelling alone when he comes upon the city of Abelia. Stopping at an inn for the night, he takes the only seat available in the crowded common room. The table is already occupied by the effervescent and friendly Ashe. Ashe reveals that she is an expert swordsman, and when a fight breaks out at a table nearby, Ashe and Sylvain work together to help the man that they think is being ganged up on. It turns out that Niklas didn’t need saving. He’s an assassin and more than capable of handling himself. But in the process, Sylvain accidentally set the room on fire. Though he’s able to put it out quickly, there is damage done. The trio decide to band together to make the money needed to pay off the debt.
They take a job travelling to a cursed city to retrieve particular items for a spell. During the journey, they get to know each other very well. Fighting the undead that inhabit the city cements their friendship. When they return with their mission complete, they realize they don’t want to say goodbye to one another. They decide to stick around and create a business putting their talents to use. Thus Swords, Sorcery, and Sundry is born.
At first, business is slow and they do very little more than finding lost cats. But when find and return a girl who had been kidnapped, as well as frighten the man that did it so that he’ll never do it again, word begins to spread. The trio start getting more jobs that are better suited to their talents. And more dangerous.
Meanwhile, Sylvain and Niklas are growing closer. But when they try to take the next step in their relationship, Niklas pulls away. The trio remain as close as ever though, and when Sylvain starts to experience some strange sickness, Niklas is the one that takes care of him. Eventually they discover that Sylvain’s familiar has been trying to bond with him. The hawk, Fury, finally completes the bond, and Sylvain grows stronger. Niklas is unexplicably jealous, and while trying to sort out his thoughts, a group of assassins come after him. He is able to defeat most of them, and Sylvain, Ashe, and Fury help him defeat the rest. Home once again, the consequences of their actions come back to haunt them, and the trio have to make some decisions about what to do next.
A high fantasy full of likeable characters, fun plots, and amusing dialogue, Swords, Sorcery, and Sundry hit all my hot buttons for this type of story. I laughed, I gasped, I grinned. This was an excellent fantasy tale. I was so involved in the characters and the story that I didn’t even mind that it was told in third person, present tense, which is a style that I usually dislike.
The heart of this book is the characters. Sylvain, Ashe, and Niklas are so diverse, but they fit together and complement one another so perfectly that you can’t separate them. They each endeared themselves to me for different reasons. Sylvain is a bit hapless and naïve, but underneath that he is a strong wizard who has a great deal of confidence. Ashe made me laugh on more than one occasion, and her self-assuredness when it comes to herself and her abilities with a sword was wonderful to see. Niklas, the reluctant assassin, is a bit quieter, but he hold his own with the other two. I simply loved their dynamic.
This is really a story about three friends and the situations they get themselves into. But it’s clear that Sylvain and Niklas have deeper feelings for each other. They do fall into bed with each other, but then Niklas pulls away. Though Sylvain is confused, Niklas makes it clear that he is doing it to keep Sylvain safe. In fact, Niklas continually takes care of Sylvain when he’s suffering from an unknown ailment. Eventually, they do get together and accept their feelings for one another and take their relationship to the next level. There is no sex on the page, but this doesn’t detract from their budding relationship. I only mention it for anyone who wants to know.
I only had one issue with this tale and that is, at times, I felt a little lost. MacLeod does a pretty good job of creating the world and giving us the information we need to be in this universe. But there were times where I felt a little more explanation about certain aspects could have helped. I sometimes didn’t understand exactly where the characters were. And sometimes names of places or people were dropped in like we should know what they were, but if they were explained, I completely missed it. The world is fairly well developed, but there could have been a bit more to help me understand.
All in all, I really enjoyed this story. It’s the first in a series, and I’ll definitely be picking up the next one. I can’t wait to see where these three characters go next, and what trouble they manage to get themselves into. Recommended.
Cover: I absolutely adored this cover. The simplicity of it really reflects the story within, and the three cups and three stools are the prefect representation of the three main characters.