Title: Swordspoint: A Melodrama of Manners
Author: Ellen Kushner
Year Published: 1987
Narrators: Ellen Kushner, Dion Graham, Katherine Kellgren, Robert Fass, Nick Sullivan, Simon Jones
Audiobook Length: 10 hours 54 minutes
Synopsis: On the streets of Riverside, a man lives and dies by the sword. Even the nobles on the Hill turn to duels to settle their disputes. And in this city, the swordsman Richard St. Vier is the undisputed master, as skilled as he is ruthless – until a death by the sword is met with outrage instead of awe, and the city discovers that the line between hero and villain can be altered in the blink of an eye. Because every man lives at sword's point, if you can only find his weakness. And even the greatest swordsman in Riverside has one thing he cares for deeply.
Review: This audiobook is presented by Neil Gaiman. The majority of the novel is narrated by Ellen Kushner herself. A few of the scenes are acted out, some with even background music and other added sounds. I preferred just Ellen Kushner reading. The acted out scenes weren't frequent enough for me to attach the characters to voices. I was more familiar with Ellen Kushner's voices of the characters. There were also so many characters with unique names that it took me a while to get to know them as well.
It also took some time to get into the world, too. But once I started to figure out how this world works, I really liked it. The politics of the world reminded me of Downton Abbey, but add Game of Thrones in there. The swordsman are the celebrities in this culture. And the wealthy hire them to fight out their disputes.
This novel was written in 1987 and I didn't think it felt old. It withstood the 25 years since it was published, in my opinion. The depiction of sexuality was very progressive. Almost all the characters are portrayed as fluid in their sexuality with same-sex pairings commonplace. Besides their sexuality, all the characters are also very grey. There is depth to all of them. They play the game and each have their own ideas of honor and morale.
I loved the ending. All the pieces fell into place just right. I was very satisfied. I will definitely be looking into the sequels. I give this audiobook a 4/5 and recommend it to fans of intrigue set in a unique world.