cover image Shieldbreaker's Story: Shielbreaker's Story

Shieldbreaker's Story: Shielbreaker's Story

Fred Saberhagen. Tor Books, $20.95 (255pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85001-2

A wicked magician and a batch of demons almost succeed in taking over Sarykam, capital of Prince Mark of Tasavalta, in this lackluster 11th, and final, volume of the series that began with The First Book of Swords . Vilkata the Dark King and his shape-changing demons return from the Moon, where they had been sent by Prince Mark, who can hurl demons into the heavens with an incantation. Employing the power of the Mindsword, which gives the holder the allegiance of all beings he encounters, Vilkata gains the fealty of the city and palace occupants except for 14-year-old Prince Stephen, son of Mark. The prince makes his escape using Shieldbreaker, the Sword of Force and the strongest of the dozen created by the Gods, and Sightblinder, the Sword of Stealth; he loses the former to Vilkata, although the Mindsword is destroyed. Then the Dark King gains an ally in the adventurer Baron Amintor, wielder of Coinspinner, the Sword of Chance, and sets out to consolidate his hold on the city by destroying all other swords. Meanwhile, Stephen tries to make his way to his father to seek aid. Saberhagen's saga ends happily and at a good time, since his original concept has run out of steam with tired and sketchy characterizations and plot and only brief appearances by many players from other volumes. (Feb.)