Review: Swordheart by T. Kingfisher

swordheartI’ve had this book on my TBR list for a long time. Every time I get all down in the dumps, I’ll reach out and ask for a light hearted fantasy romance and this one gets recommended all the time, but I tended to skip over it as it doesn’t have (as far as I know) an audiobook, and most of my ‘pleasure reading’ for lack of a better term, comes from audio as of late.

But you know what? It’s been A Week. So, here we are.

Halla is a housekeeper who has suddenly inherited her great-uncle’s estate… and, unfortunately, his relatives. Sarkis is an immortal swordsman trapped in a prison of enchanted steel. When Halla draws the sword that imprisons him, Sarkis finds himself attempting to defend his new wielder against everything from bandits and roving inquisitors to her own in-laws… and the sword itself may prove to be the greatest threat of all.

“Well,” she admitted, looking at the pile of potatoes, “you’re good at that.”

“I have a great deal of experience skinning my enemies,” he said, deadpan.

“Do you have many enemies among the potatoes?”

“Not any longer.”

This may well be, in one day, a new favorite book. I can’t recall a book that has been so perfect for me, to be really honest.

Halla is a widowed woman who is the housekeeper for her rather well-off uncle by marriage. When that uncle dies, Halla finds out that she has inherited the entire estate. Unfortunately, other relatives have shown up to try and force her to marry back into the family so that they can take advantage of the inheritance. So, of course they imprison her in her bedroom. After a few days, she pulls a decorative sword from the wall, thinking she must throw herself upon it as a last effort to not be forced into marrying her clammy-handed cousin.

When she draws the sword, a man appears telling her that as long as she is the wielder of the sword, he is sworn to defend her. His name is Sarkis, and as far as he can tell, he’s had dozens of wielders over hundreds of years. None quite like Halla though.

So, as he helps her escape her wicked in-laws and find some legal help to work out her inheritance, he’s going to protect her from anything this crazy world can throw at them.

“You’ve got a rather large sword for a woman,” said Scar, looking over at her.

“Yes, but I’m told it’s not the size of the sword that matters,” said Halla. She frowned. “Although my husband used to say that, and do you know, he never told me what it meant?”

As most of T. Kingfisher’s books thusfar do, this one made me chuckle a few times, because these characters have plenty of witticisms to throw at each other. I loved the characters in this one. Halla is adorable all on her own, being able to bring roadside bandits and shady religious orders to confused silence with a barrage of questions. Halla is extremely curious, and isn’t afraid to voice every question that comes into her head, and I was here for it. Sarkis is as dour and serious as one would assume a man trapped in a sword would be, but you can see over the course of the book how much he changes as a person in Halla’s company. Her endless curiosity seems to annoy him at first, but before long, it endears her to him.

My favorite character in this entire thing though was Zale, the lawyer/priest of the Rat. Zale comes back with them in order to work out the inheritance with their lawyerly skills. But, before long, Zale is just another part of this group, bantering with everyone else. I also once again love this world for nobody once batting an eye at Zale’s use of they/them pronouns. Even the antagonists. Gender and sexuality do not at all seem to have any stigma in this world, and I love, love, love it.

“Clearly you have a fine criminal mind.”

“I’m flattered. Wait, should I be flattered?”

“I don’t know any more,” sighed the priest.

One of my absolutely favorite things about this book is that it went into the specifics of the magic of being trapped in a sword. Someone as curious as Halla would obviously have questions for someone magically bound inside a sword that range from ‘do you need to eat?’ to ‘where do bits severed from you go once you return to the sword.’ Some of these little details turned out to be more important to the story in the end, and it was really interesting having someone inside the book ask the silly questions that I would.

All told, Swordheart is now one of my very favorite books. I loved it from start to finish, and I really hope that T. Kingfisher never ever stops writing books in this world, because everything from the paladins to the gnoles are some of my favorite things to read about. 5/5 stars!~

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