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Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Wrong Sword: Book One by T.M. Mendelssohn

The Wrong Sword: Book One by T.M. Mendelssohn
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Fantasy
Length: Full Length (280 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

For a thousand years, Excalibur has been the sword of heroes. Unfortunately, its new owner isn’t one.

Ever since he arrived in Paris, Henry the Rat has made a pretty good living selling “magic” swords to gullible knights. But when Henry sells one to Geoffrey Plantagenet, brother to King Richard, his happy days are over for good. Geoffrey forces Henry into a dangerous, uncomfortable quest for the most famous magic sword of all time, Excalibur, even though Henry is certain that it’s just a myth.

Then Henry actually finds Excalibur - and his troubles really start: For Excalibur is not just the sword of heroes…it’s also the sword that won’t SHUT UP. It communicates with its owner, it knows what kind of owner it deserves, and Henry doesn’t even come close.

To keep Excalibur and the world safe from the appalling Geoffrey, Henry will have to masquerade as a knight, crash a royal wedding, rescue a princess, break a siege, penetrate the secrets of the Perilous Brotherhood, and find Excalibur’s rightful bearer, all while trying to reach an accommodation with a snotty, aristocratic hunk of steel that mocks him, takes over his body, and keeps trying to turn him into the one thing he hates most…a hero.

Henry is the most reluctant hero in the world.

Henry is a very interesting character. He’s been living on the streets practically his whole life due to the tragic destruction of his home when he was a very young child. Right from the start, it is clear that Henry is smart and extremely clever. Unfortunately, he uses his talents to devise schemes to cheat others out of their money. I couldn’t help but wonder what Henry could achieve if he put his mind to better use.

Henry goes through some interesting changes as the story progresses. At first, he is all about his own survival. Though he has a small group of people he cares about, his own personal well being remains his primary concern. Once Henry finds Excalibur, his perspective gradually begins to change. Bearing Excalibur comes with all sorts of responsibility that Henry didn’t ask for, and I had serious doubts as to whether Henry could handle them. He seemed to want nothing more than to get rid of Excalibur as quickly as possible. When it becomes clear that Henry needs to keep the sword out of the hands of men who would misuse it, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Henry is up to the task. Underneath the guise of the slippery street rat, Henry is a good man who ultimately chooses to do the right thing.

Excalibur is also a vivid character. Not only does the sword have magical properties, but she has a very strong and opinionated personality as well. To say that Henry and Excalibur clash is a huge understatement. Excalibur wants Henry to be a hero, and Henry has no interest. Their snippy banter is very entertaining. Though they had a rough beginning, by the end of the story Henry and Excalibur had grown on each other and were well on their way to becoming friends.

Henry meets a lot of other interesting people in his travels, but none of them are nearly as developed as Henry. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed following Henry on his mission, it would have been nice to get to know some of the secondary characters better, especially Percy, a knight who devotes himself to Henry’s service. Percy’s character seems very one dimensional at first, but Mr. Mendelssohn hints that there is more to Percy than meets the eye. Perhaps I’ll learn more about Percy in the following books in the series?

One of the things I like most about The Wrong Sword is that the action is very believable. Henry has absolutely no experience in combat and yet he finds himself wielding a powerful sword and fighting against Geoffrey and his army. Henry doesn’t always succeed in his efforts and he gets himself into plenty of scrapes. However, no matter how many times Henry gets knocked down, but he always gets back up and tries again. This gives Henry’s adventures a realistic feel and made it easy for me to immerse myself in the story.

I also enjoyed the tone of The Wrong Sword. It is a medieval adventure yet it has a distinctive modern flavor displayed mainly in the attitudes and language of the characters. I found this to be a very interesting combination. It is clear that Mr. Mendelssohn definitely has fun playing with history and the legend of Excalibur.

The Wrong Sword is a wonderful twist on the legend of Excalibur. It is filled with enough magic, humor, and danger to satisfy the most adventurous spirit. Fans of young adult fantasy should certainly give The Wrong Sword a try.

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