Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint came out while I was in high school. I didn’t read it then, although I rather wish I had. Although I loved it on reading it, it didn’t immediately become my favorite book. It has, however, stayed in that place through to the present.
Why? Well, there are a few things. It is a plot-driven novel, by which I mean, not the usual, but that there are schemes and politics propelling the events of the books. It’s all about the intersection of identity and social roles, with a subtle helping of what it means to be family. And it is a fantasy book that relies not one tiny bit on magic to tell its story.
If you haven’t read, go find a copy. If you have read it (and The Privilege of the Sword), you can now find out the ending to Richard and Alec’s story in “The Man with the Knives.” Be warned. It is an ending. It is other things as well, but it is decidedly an ending.
And if someone hasn’t already, you may still be able to get me a copy for Christmas.