The world of Eurania and the kingdom of Chivial host Dave Duncan’s story of The King’s Blades in “The Gilded Chain.” Before one can further discuss The King’s Blades, one must understand what it is that makes a swordsman a Blade. Duncan has shown us a school where children come in and only swordsmen bonded by magic leave. To quote the back cover, “A magical ritual of a sword through the heart binds each [Blade] to his ward – if not the king himself…with absolutely loyalty.”
“The Gilded Chain” tells the story of Sir Durendal through his eyes as well as several other of The King’s Blades. The story is divided into seven chapters with each one focusing on a different person, most of them Blades. This might seem to be a jarring affect while reading, but Duncan continues to weave Sir Durendal’s tale despite the emphasis on other characters. This character emphasis is not to mean that each chapter tells the story from their point of view. In fact, far from it. The character emphasis in the separate chapter is to address how each of these major characters’ stories are attended. At the beginning, we are introduced to a much older Sir Durendal, but then transported back to see how he became that man. The time shift occurs a few times in the book and interrupt the flow slightly,
Dave Duncan’s use of third person is well done and aids the dialogue in creating an imaginative world and heroes the reader can grow to love as well as villains the reader can grow to love to hate. His descriptions are colorful and straightforward. The story is advanced artfully through each scene and guides us through the protagonist’s development in simple but effective character arcs.
As a testament to Duncan’s storytelling ability, he relates the story of a group of blade wielding duelists without relying on relating battle after battle. This book gets 4 flags from me and is a must read for any fantasy fan.