Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Sword of Shame; Medieval Murderers

I found this completely by accident, it was shelved in the science fiction section (???). This title is an anthology of medieval set mysteries centered around a sword and what happens to those who own it or come across it over the course of several centuries. Individual stories are written by Bernard Knight, Ian Morson, Susanna Gregory and Philip Gooden. Not all of whom I have been able to find in my local bookstores. Jacket image found on The photo of the authors found on Michael Jecks' website.

The sword was crafted by a Saxon sworsmith before the invasion of William the Conqueror. Very soon afterward the sword affects the fate of the swordsmith's family. It is then passed on and sold and traded and so on. We watch the sword as its form changes and as it touches the lives of its owners. It moves from Britain to Italy and back to London over time.

Can an inanimate object be evil? Without specific intent by the smith or anyone else involved in crafting it? As an example, in some stories an object is specifically made as a ritual object and over time with use and intent it becomes imbued with atmosphere or awareness. This sword, which I don't think ever has a specific name despite being inscribed, somehow manages to involve itself in shady goings on. But does it influence it's owners in a negative manner?

All of the stories are well written, but as is usual with anthologies of any type, possibly excepting those edited by Datlow and Windling, some appealed more than others.

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