The Swords Choice – The Sapphire Eruption is a different kind of story than what I usually read. I like to have variety in my blogs and chose this one because the author recommended it to me. The story is a fantasy that is simple yet sophisticated. There are three kingdoms and one queendom (Aquos), which is where most of the story takes place. One of the other nations is hostile and causes friction for everyone. The two main characters are Noakh and Vienne.
Noakh is brave and humble. He isn’t interested in fine things and is content with a simple life; Once, he picked a single flower because he didn’t want to take more than he needed. I thought that was a respectful touch. He makes a gesture early in the story that softened my feelings for him; it was admirable and the right thing to do. People are drawn towards him and he makes friends while on a journey to another nation. He is different than the other Aquos and you will see in the book.
Vienne has a soft demeanor and is modest for a young woman. She is respectful and kind. Like her sisters, she is in line for the throne of the Queendom. She doesn’t get along with her mother, who is the queen. I felt more should have been written about Vienne since she plays an important role. She is a likable character but does show a naïve side to her in the beginning. Her strengths lie in her heart, as the love in her is very strong and it radiates. She wants things done completely opposite of her mother’s harsh demeanor. She is close to another sister who plays a great supporting role in the story. I really liked Vienne.
Another player needs to be mentioned, Graglia. She is Vienne’s mother and the current queen of Aquos. She is harsh and uses strong commands to get what she wants. She isn’t humble or nice. She just wants all the power she can have and is selfish. I felt she was out of date with her methods. She felt threatened when confronted by certain people. I seemed a bit tense as I read her parts. Her role provided a lot of drama that was necessary for the story to progress.
One of the things I admire about the story is one of the swords. It has it’s own personality and can be summoned to erupt a powerful force. It also has other purposes besides being a weapon. I love the sword fights.
The descriptions are good throughout and there is a lot of action. As you read, you’ll feel like you are there with the characters. It takes you into another world. Also, I like how there is nothing about guns or modern-day weapons of mass destruction. The technology used works like a charm and the story shows that.
This is a long story and took me a while to read. But the reading is easy and smooth. In my opinion, there is too much head-hopping. However, it didn’t deter my enjoyment of the story. Beware, there are some graphic scenes and some messy deaths. On the other hand, there are tender spots. I recommend The Sword’s Choice – The Sapphire Eruption to all who love a great adventure with royalty and fantasy.
Here is an excerpt:
“We have news, my queen. During the last weapons assignment, our men discovered something by our borders—”
“Something?” The queen tilted her head curiously. “Be more specific, Lampen.”
“Volcanite,” Lampen said as he lowered his head.
Vienne let out a small squeak as she put her hands to her mouth. Volcanite was a scarce mineral with explosive properties. The Fireos had a working knowledge of it. In one of their last bouts, they made good use of it over the Aquo troops. Entire platoons had died under a huge explosion—a vision that had made many of the surviving soldiers who had witnessed the slaughter go mad. Even the queen had nightmares remembering such a horrific scene that she had once seen.
“How much are we talking about?” the queen asked with a worried look. Her nails dug into the throne’s armrest.
“Enough to endanger the queendom,” Defense Counselor Galonais put in with a stern look.
“Any indication that the Fireos know about it?” the queen asked, fearing the answer.
“It is located in a remote place, close to one of the routes by which our purchases of illegal weapons are transported. So that everything seems to indicate that they do not know; otherwise, it would not have been possible for us to have received the last load.”
Vienne blinked, trying to remain calm. She had heard about the illegal weapons operation but had never known how it worked. It was no secret that the best steel was obtained from ores in the mines of Firia. According to what people said, in the fire kingdom dwelled the best dwarf smiths, an almost-extinct breed with a supernatural talent for forging weapons. The Aquadom had proven the superior quality of these weapons on countless occasions, witnessing how Fireo blades pierced their armor without difficulty. For that reason, the Aquos, leaving aside their pride to make use of their intelligence, had obtained a contact who illegally provided weapons of the highest quality at the most affordable price.
“I see,” the queen answered, understanding why the three counselors had approached her together. Certainly seeing the same synergy that she saw. “Lampen, how long might it take to extract all of that volcanite?”
“Under normal conditions, and with a large enough team, two months. But in this case, considering the difficulties posed by the location and the implicit need to act with the greatest secrecy, we might consider… a year,” he said, making calculations in his head.
“And if our miners work knowing that their services are under the strict orders of the queen, with the promise of triple their usual pay and rations?” the queen said with a smile.
Lampen began to redo his calculations, trying to formulate a reasonable answer that in turn would please the queen.
“Let’s say… five months?”
“Four,” the queen replied. “Have the extractions begin immediately—and in the meantime, I want your investigators to focus solely on this issue. Making volcanite operational in combat must be their highest priority. Not having an answer if the volcanite can be rendered operational in the next two months would be an absolute disappointment. Is that clear?”
“Very clear, my queen,” Lampen said as he continued to redo his calculations.
“Galonais, our actions may have consequences. Summon the Sea Guard and the River Guard. Strengthen their positions on the borders of Firia… Send more frigates to the east!”
“I will do so, your majesty. Will we also have the Temple Guard?”
“No, the Congregation of the Church won’t want to know anything unless we go to war. For now, our guard will be more than enough. If war ensues, I will use my position as high priestess. Meredian, war may be imminent. How long can our coffers hold with the current army?”
“A couple of years, my queen. Collections have not covered the expenses of the queendom for a long time. Fortunately we have the Tirhans’ payments to use for maintaining our military services, but even so, I fear our policy of becoming increasingly indebted will be a problem if the situation continues much longer.”
“The war will come soon, and with it I fear that the ranks of our army will be considerably reduced, although the Aqua Deus knows very well that I wish it were not so. Any donation from our houses of nobility perhaps? A new tribute that allows us to raise funds?”
“Delorange House does not seem to be willing to lend more money, my queen. In general, the houses of the highest nobility have made more than generous contributions to the crown, the highest since our records began. As for taxes, the people will be unable to face more taxes, Your Grace. The rates have already been doubled, and we have created two new taxes on trade and the use of our waterways.”
Meredian acted as though he were considering a suggestion that he had wanted to propose for some time. “You know that the church is exempt from the payment of any tribute… Perhaps we could implement some kind of payment?”
“Do not even think about it,” the queen answered flatly. “Come up with a better solution, Meredian, and do not bring the church’s business into this matter. It will be better to have the church on our side when war resumes.”
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