The Seven Swords - fantasy novellas with an RPG feel

Posted by Sevhina on Fri, 06/03/2022 - 22:04

If you're in the mood for a grimdark fantasy but would prefer something quick and easy to read, this is the series for you. The Seven Swords is a stands out for its unique settings, elaborate world building, and short format that is reminiscent of Moorcock's books of the late 1970's. This is a harsh unkind world with plenty of gods, magic, and, obviously, swords. Everybody has secrets but none are worse than Guyime's bloody past and the sword that made it possible. He believes his soul is beyond redemption so he's willing to die for a chance to destroy his sword. But the fabled Seven Swords are indestructible by mortal means so he sets off on epic pilgrimage. There is plenty of action, betrayal, and death along the way.

A Pilgrimage of Swords is a strong beginning to the series. The setting, the Execration, is a land devastated when it's god went mad. Now it's the home of malignant spirits and terrible monsters. Every year the priests of The Absolved lead desperate souls through the Execration to offer their prayers to The Absolved. He answers only one no matter how many survive to reach him. Fewer still make it back out of the Execration and they are dying, insane, or usually both. To reduce the chance of possession each member of the party chooses a simple pseudonym but its not long before their secrets start to come out. The lethal warrior Pilgrim's identity is deduced early on which doesn't concern him as long as no one tries to kill him for it. After all, some of the other secrets are bigger or more relevant to their quest. But nothing can prepare Pilgrim for meeting The Absolved.

Pilgrim's story is just getting started. Each book after the first revolves around him gaining one of the Swords. Although one or two characters continue on with him from each book this series isn't about character development. Its more like a cross between a bazaar travelogue and action adventure story. If it feels as if there is an RPG campaign behind it that's because Ryan has been running a Kickstarter to fun publishing this world as a campaign setting. These novellas are better written than most contemporary RPG based works in my opinion because Ryan focuses on the parts most gamers really enjoy about RPGs like a few secrets in a characters back story, combat, unique settings, combat, the occasional puzzle, and more combat. 

The Seven Swords isn't finished yet but they are available in all formats. On Audible some customers were unhappy because they didn't realize they aren't full length novels but take a full credit. Steven Brand turns in excellent performances as narrator.