In the seventeenth century, in an alternate universe, much of Europe, Asia, and the New World are part of an Empire ruled from England. The Order of Crown, Shield, and Dragon is a legion of special agents for the Crown: special emissaries in time of peace, and invincible warriors in more violent times. They carry special weapons: swords, each of which contains the soul of someone of great power. Even in the hands of a knight of the Order, even wielded in the cause of righteousness, a red sword is terribly dangerous to its owner and all around him. In less virtuous hands, a red sword is the most dangerous and powerful weapon known to mankind. Now, three knights of the Order have just tracked down a previously unknown red sword which was found on a Grecian shore, and which shows all signs of having been recently forged. Worse, the mind encased in the sword remembers that it was only one of many which were cached in the hold of a mysterious sailing ship, origin unknown.
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Joel Rosenberg was born in 1954. The author of many science fiction and fantasy novels, he is best known for his Guardians of the Flame fantasy series. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife Felicia, two daughters, one sister, five cats, one dog and a couple of dozen fish.From Booklist:
Distinguished fantasy writer Rosenberg launches a new series, set in an alternate seventeenth century in which magic works and gunpowder was never discovered. The titular paladins are Bear, Gray, and Cully, knights (Cully is also a priest) of the Order of Crown, Shield, and Dragon, founded by Mordred in the wars against King Arthur that led to Mordred becoming king of England, which his heirs still rule. In the course of investigating an outbreak of living swords (into which human souls have been placed at the moment of their bodies' deaths), the paladins recruit Greek fisherboy Niko to be the latest knight of the order. They also take readers on a tour of a remarkably imaginative fantasy alternate world, one including a well-drawn Patrick O'Brien-style navy, minus gunpowder but doughty at fighting, for all that. The almost too numerous characters are well drawn, and Rosenberg's usual expertise on weapons, serious concern for the ethics of violence, and brisk pacing are in evidence. Classic Rosenberg, which is to say outstanding. Roland Green
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