Today's book review is The Sword of the Lady by S. M. Stirling.
This is part of a series. It would probably be hard to understand without reading the immediately previous books, The Sunrise Lands and The Scourge of God.
Most of this book is good rollicking adventure as the ongoing quest proceeds. The battles are very detailed and graphic, and at least to me (being blissfully ignorant of real battles) they seem very believable. I usually have a somewhat limited tolerance for fight scenes, and these go on longer and in more detail than I usually want, but they're well done enough that I'm not chafing. Life in this world is short and all too often nasty, but the heroes manage in spite of it all to be anything but brutish. The very hardness of their lives gives them real purpose, something that's all too lacking in our culture. The interplay of religions forms the philosophical foundation of the world, and it's fascinating, even if it doesn't seem to heading to quite the same conclusions as I would.
The weakest part of the book is the ending. It goes all mystical, in a way that's actually fairly well done, but it's jarring in juxtaposition with gritty realism of the rest of the story. We have only the barest hint of what happened in the material world, and while this does reach a significant milestone, we're left desperately curious about how our heroes actually get out of the mess they're in.
One particular personal pleasure in reading this book is in recognizing so many of the musical references.
8 out of 10.