3 parts

author: H.L. Oldie

copies sold: 125.000

genre: Fantasy

translation possible from: Russian, English

rights available: all except Czech, Ukraine, UK/US

AWARDS:

  • 1999 “The Great Zilant“

The Way of the Sword

EKSMO 1999-2018, 8 re-editions, 490 pages
Part 1 – Kabir
The world described in the novel is unprecedented among the works of the world fantasy. Its history and geography is very like the Earth in Middle Ages, but with an essential difference: here all arms such as swords, spears etc. have a mind of their own. Arms of the same type form something like human families or clans. The living swords etc. call themselves „Brilliants“, and they consider the human beings to be but their „Carriers“, like dogs or horses, and don’t even suppose that they are intelligent too. And the people in their turn have not the slightest idea about the way things are. Nevertheless, this society is rather stable: the skill of fencing being raised to the level of high art any duels never result in the blood-spilling or Carriers’s death. Thanks to easily understandable reasons the wars have also been forgotten long ago. In one word, this world is a kind of „feudal utopia“.
But we learn that something is going wrong there. Mysterious and bloody murders began to happen in a number of towns. Not only people are killed, but also the intelligent arms happen to be destroyed. Such things have not happened here for almost eight centuries!
The main heroes of the novel are the upright sword Dan Ghien called the Unicorn and its Carrier – a young nobleman Chan Unkor.
The scimitar Sheshez ruling over the Emirate (from the Brilliants‘ point of view) invites the Unicorn to investigate those crimes. The same task is given by the man-Emir Daud to Chan Unkor.
As the result Chan himself gets into trouble: during a fencing competition his right hand was cut away. Being under the psychic influence (unaware of it) exercized by his sword, the young man feels that he cannot live without fencing and tries the last remedy: following the advice given to him by the Emir’s jester Druddle he orders a smith to forge an iron hand for him, although he understood very clearly that this was a nonsense.
But as the result of secret ancient rites the iron hand acquires life of its own! It becomes the intermediary between the man and his sword, a link between the two intelligent races. The heroes understand that in order to oppose the murderers they have now to change their minds; soon they manage to overcome the interdiction to kill inherent to both of them while saving the life of the jester Druddle in a city street at night. The same night the man and his sword together with the jester’s blunt dagger Dziuttee which is more widely known as the Kabir Executioner leave the capital following the footsteps of the murderers towards the native country of Chan’s ancestors, Maylan (closely reminding the ancient China). Their butlers (the man Kos Antanya and the Estoc sword Zarrahid) decide to accompany their masters during the dangerous journey in spite of the orders given to them to stay at home. But the heroes had still to learn that some other companions were going after them. Should they had known that in advance…
 

Part 2 – Maylan
The road to Maylan was abundant with adventures; the heroes got better acquainted with one another, now they not only cooperate but from time to time create a new entity, „man-sword“. They meet a smart old woman called Mother Tsi who is searching for some ancient secrets, they learn the details of Kabirean history and inform their companions about the symbiosis they live in, and at last arrive safely to Maylan. Here the heroes enter into possession of their family inheritance and at the same time they find out that the princess of Maylan who had become a widow being still very young is aspiring to marry Chan. Their investigation is likely to be interrupted, but suddenly a number of strange events happens around the heroes, all of them evidently having the goal to destroy the wedding. In the whirl of these around-wedding events the heroes manage to find the trace of the murderers (both men and the Brilliants) leading to an ancient Batinite sect whose members use the mortal duels in their rituals.
The Batinites (men and their swords called „the Tarnished“ consider that the original destination of both human beings and arms was to kill, and they are obliged not to forget it.
But it is found out that the sectarians didn’t take part in the crimes committed in Kabir! The real murderers are at last found (and among them the man and the sword who had cut away Chan’s hand). The night murderers turned out to be the citizens of Kabir who had been taken prisoners by the nomad tribe in a distant land of Shulma and ran away in order to rescue their native land. The point is that the savage nomads are going to attack Kabir, and the murderers decided to sacrifice themselves: to rouse the inhabitants of Kabir, to remind them of the old warrior skills and in such a way to save the land from perishing. In a secret underground temple many people and their arms meet to fulfill the ritual duel-sacrifice: the Batinites, the runaway Kabireans, a revenger pursuing his foes (who earlier had been shown as an episodic character), Chan Unkor with his Unicorn, the Kabir Executioner and other personnages…
When the duel was in its full swing, a woman messenger arrived from a village situated near the border: it has been attacked by the nomads. The invasion began! The ritual was interrupted; the heroes ride as soon as possible to meet the fate awaiting them in the ravaged village…

 

Part 3 – Shulma
The inhabitants of the village have been all slaughtered; their Brilliants are also dead and thrown down into a well. The advanced detachment of the Shulmus attack the company of the heroes, the battle begins; in the last moment the Kabireans are supported by their friends (both men and their Brilliants) who had followed them secretly. During the battle the Kabireans managed to overcome the interdiction to kill and defeat the Shulmus utterly; those who were lucky to stay alive were taken as prisoners. The nomads are overwhelmed by the fighting skills of their enemies, moreover, due to a casual coincidence of words they suppose Chan Unkor to be the incarnation of the Yellow God Mo, the highest war deity of Shulma. During the duel between Chan Unkor and the chief of Shulmus scouts Chan’s right hand, made of iron, is uncovered by chance, and this put an end to all doubts of the Shulmus.
The Kabireans go to Shulma; Kush-Tengry, a clairvoyant shaman abiding in the steppe goes to meet them because he forebodes great changes. Having arrived to a holy place where it is forbidden to fight, the Kabireans and the shaman soon found common language. It comes out that some time ago a High Gurkhan (chief governor) had appeared in Shulma and united all tribes in order to lead them to Kabir. This Gurkhan is evidently a native Kabirean. And Cinqueda, a short sword (his Brilliant) in its turn united the intelligent arms of the Shulmus that stayed until then in a savage state. In the holy place a variety of events happen until the Shulmus hords surround it.
There follows a duel between Gurkhan and Chan Unkor. A stone thrown unexpectedly from a sling stunned the Kabirean, but the Unicorn and the iron hand save his life; while Chan is unconscious, the Unicorn, controls the iron hand holding it and continues to fight. When Chan comes to his senses he joins the battle, tears off the armour of the defeated Gurkhan – and finds out that the leader of the Shulmus is a woman!
The ashamed nomads try to kill their former leader, but the Kabireans prevent them from doing this. The body-guards of the impostor Gurkhan take Chan’s side believing him to be the god.

Epilogue: Ambassadors from Shulma (the shaman Kush-Tengry and a friend of Chan Unkor’s) come to the Kabirean Emirate. They meet the old Emir and the jester Druddle who had survived only by pure chance. There’s no peace in the Emirate. The extremist part of the Batinites raised their heads. The peace treaty with Shulma seems to promise a happy end – but already a smith and an alchemist demonstrate in the presence of Emir the first sample of an arquebuse and the action of a powder bomb, proposing to use the new arms for the overcoming of the inner and external enemies. A new epoch stnds on the threshold. This world would never again be the same it had been before…