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Publisher's Summary

As unwanted and rebellious boys, they find refuge in Ironhall.... Years later, they emerge as the finest swordsmen in the realm - a magical ritual of a sword through the heart binds each to his ward - if not the king himself, then to whomever else the monarch designates - with absolute loyalty.

And the greatest Blade of them all was - and is - Sir Durendal.

But a lifelong dream of protecting his beloved liege from enemies, traitors, and monsters is dashed to bits when Durendal is bonded till death to an effete noble fop at his king's orders. Yet destiny has many strange and inscrutable plans for the young knight - for a mission, a contest, and, perhaps, a treasure await him in a faraway land. But he soon finds himself enmeshed in treason and foul intrigues, compelled to betray the king he had hoped to serve.

The Blades have ways to protect their own, but death and madness haunt the path to salvation - and few ever return unscathed.

©1999, 2019 Katanji Arts Inc. (P)2019 Katanji Arts Inc.

What listeners say about Gilded Chain

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Fun and imaginative

I’ve always liked these stories and this was a really fun listen.
The narrator should drop the accent, though. Or get an actual ascot to do the narration.

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Profile Image for The Bookwyrm Speaks
  • The Bookwyrm Speaks
  • 27-07-2020

One of my favorite fantasy tales.

While I usually review indie authored fantasy, I still have a huge collection of older traditionally published fantasy and sci-fi. This includes most of the books in The Kings Blades series, the first of which, The Gilded Chain, I'm reviewing here. The recent release of the audio version really piqued my interest, so here we go.

PLOT SUMMARY

This story starts with a young boy who's family brings him to Ironhall, where the King's Blades are trained to become the finest warriors in the world, being magically bound to their charges when they graduate. The young man takes the name of Durendal, the name of greatest hero in the history of the Blades, and a huge legacy to live up to.

We then switch to the POV of the kingdom's Chancellor, Lord Roland, as he sits in his office, running the day to day operations of the kingdom. When his biggest rival for power, the king's private secretary, comes in with an order removing him from office, Roland is relieved, thinking he can finally retire and spend time with his wife. Of course, its not that easy, and he is about to be arrested. Fortunately, Roland was gifted a King's Blade to bond to him as a guard, so he avoids being arrested, as any Blade is worth a dozen guardsmen. He heads home and apprises his wife of the situation.

Durendal, if you couldn't guess, is also Lord Roland, and the book switches between the two viewpoints, going back in the past for various important parts of his life, and then switching to the issues going on in the present. We see how, after his training, Durendal is bonded to his first charge, a spoiled noble who's gifted a Blade because his sister is the king's mistress. We get to see what the magical bond means, since it allows a blade to go without sleep for long periods of time, and forces them to defend their charge's life at all cost, including allowing them to fight long past injuries that would kill a normal fighter.

We get to see Durendal caught up in a scheme by his charge to betray the king, and his bond forces him to go along, to eventual tragic consequences. This leads to Durendal being bonded directly to the king, and joining his household Blades. Rising though the ranks, he is tasked with a mission that takes him for years away from the kingdom, tasked with bringing back a Blade that has supposedly been made into a gladiator slave in a distant land. This mission has a direct tie in to the end of the book, since what they find there will have dire consequences 30 years in the future.

Upon returning, Durendal continues to rise in the ranks until he is eventually Blade commander, until the night the king is magically attacked by disgruntled magician's guilds, and Durendal saves the king's life, and is rewarded by being made the king's new chancellor. The years pass by and we get to the present, where we find that the king is finally dying, but something tied into that long ago mission is afoot, and will have horrible consequences for the kingdom, and possibly the world, if the king and his secretary aren't stopped from recreating what Durendal discovered all those years ago and thought he'd stopped then.

CHARACTERS AND WORLD BUILDING

While this book is very plot driven, the characters are surprising well rounded, especially Durendal and the King. Durendal is by every measure a fantasy hero of the old school, fearless, skilled, ruthless when necessary and a ladies man, and yet he also has flaws and blind spots you don't expect in such a traditional type character. His failures are as much a part of his character building as his many successes. The king is very much in the mold of King Henry VIII, starting out a vigorous, brash and energetic king, then getting fat and impatient with dissent as he gets old. He even alienates his daughter/heir. The secondary characters are given some love, especially the various Blades Durendal works with over the years, each given their own personalities, not just roles they play to move the story.

The world building is solid, with the kingdom being pretty well described and populated, with the magic being fairly low key, but powerful in its way. The foreign locations are fairly well written, and you get a good feeling for the larger world, and the kingdom's place in it.

NARRATION

The narration is fantastically handled by Austin Vanfleet. He makes me think that every fantasy novel should be narrated with a scottish accent. He has such a good voice, with a smooth voice that creates many different voices for the various characters, giving them each their own unique life. His narrative pacing is some of the best I have ever heard, never dipping into a monotone, and really immersing the listener into the story. I will be happily reviewing more of his works in the coming months.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This is the kind of traditional fantasy that could be seen as old fashioned, since the protagonist is not some shades of grey antihero, but is very much a hero. However, he is a flawed hero, making him much more than a two dimensional cutout, and the story is so well told that it keeps the reader engaged, with twists and turns that keep you guessing. I suspect this book will appeal to a wide range of fans, from teens to fans of old school pulps.

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  • B VanDyk
  • 14-07-2020

Fantastic Fantasy series

I've loved the King's Blades series for years.
Austin Vanfleet does a great job with his performance.
I immediately started listening to the second book and it too was done very well.
I'm looking forward to listening to the entire series.

I received a free copy of this audiobook in exchange for an unbiased review.

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  • michael martins
  • 02-03-2020

Great Fantasy novel

Gilded Chain: A Tale of the King's Blades was a very enjoyable fantasy novel. If you like your fantasy of the Sword and Sorcery variety you will definitely enjoy this. This story takes place in an interesting world where there is a school to train and create Blades. The school takes young men and through intense training and some magic transforms them into Blades expert swordsman who are bonded to a single person and whom they will willingly lay their lives down for. The Blades are expert swordsman who have incredible, strength, stamina and speed and also are resistant to magic. The King decides who a Blade will be bonded to and many are bonded to him as his personal guards.

The story mainly follows Durendal(Roland) who starts off at the school for Blades and is one of the best students to ever come out of the school. The story follows him on many adventures and there are quite a few twists and turns along the way. Durendal is an extremely good person, brash and very likeable as a Hero. There is a lot of action and adventure as well as much intrigue in the book which kept me thoroughly engrossed and entertained throughout.

The narration by Austin Vanfleet was great and I really enjoyed his accent and felt it fit the story quite well. Overall I would definitely recommend this book and I look forward to reading other's in the series.

"Please note I was given this free review copy audio book at my request and have voluntarily left this review."

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  • lisamcintire
  • 17-02-2020

Does not disappoint!

I have been reading and listening to Dave Duncan for a very long time. I am big fan and this book is no exception to his great works. The Kings blades are bonded for life and Sir Durendal is no exception. His journey takes him across the world in service to his king. Intrigue, traitors, the missing, and monsters, and even love make this book one you will enjoy. As the first book in the King's blade saga, it is one you will enjoy!

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary honest review.

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  • Cindy
  • 18-11-2019

Wow

What an imagination! Though slow to start, you are soon caught up in this audio. The narrator gave an awesome performance,
This audio was given to me free and I voluntarily gave this review,

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  • Kendrick
  • 14-07-2020

Dang good book!

The story is great! Engaging, exciting, well paced, and the end is very satisfying!

I got this book specifically because of the narrator, Austin Vanfleet is amazing. He was able to bring an accent that isn't natural to him naturally into this story. I loved it! Book two is even better!

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  • Al
  • 03-02-2020

Bot a bad story, but the narrator is the highlight

I received a free copy of the audio from the author, with no expectation of a review.

I’m kinda swamped with work and school right now (not to mention two kids), so I’ve managed to fall way behind on my reviews. In fact, I’m falling behind on my reading too. Gasp! Anyway, moving swiftly on. I’ve been reading spec fiction for donkeys years, and somehow I've managed to avoid reading anything by Dave Duncan, so The Gilded Chain was my first experience. This one tells the tale of Durendal, a swordsman par excellence who gets sent on a potential suicide mission, instead of fulfilling his dream of guarding the king. He survives, but it sets him on a lifelong journey that may yet see him fulfill his dream, but not as planned. Here’s my thoughts on the book:
This was a fun story, with a witty script that kept me chuckling along throughout. There wasn’t a whole lot of action going on, apart from the occasional flurry, but the pacing is great and the odds of you getting bored are slim. At least, that’s how it was for me. Speaking of the lack of action, at the start of the story, Durendal travels on a great journey, which is basically the start and the end. However, Durendal alludes to a great adventure that they had along the way. Even the fight scenes seem stripped down, and for a story about a legendary swordsman, this just seems a bit weird. The plot is okay, and takes the course over thirty years or so, with the occasional time jump. The story does revolve around Durendal and a mage, both of him want to be close to the King, but for different reasons.It gets a little wild down the stretch. The narrator was great, and probably the highlight of the whole audiobook.

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  • Kay
  • 20-11-2019

Strong character, well-developed concept

Wow, I was not expecting where this story went-part intrigue, part adventure, and part horror. Gilded Chain is a story told in parts that span the lifetime of Sir Durendal the second, so there are some big time jumps. Each part builds on the last though so you can see the impact each life event has in informing the decisions he makes going forward. The different phases of his life-as a protector, adventurer, politician, and guildmaster have a different feel but they’re tied together by his devotion to king and country. The story tackles some big themes including the nature of service, loyalty, justice, and obligation. I enjoyed the narrator’s accent and found him understandable, although there isn’t a lot a variance in his voices. This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.

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  • LemuelB
  • 13-11-2019

One of Duncan's Best

I was so happy to finally see "Gilded Chain" available as an audiobook! My family loves Dave Duncan's books. When my kids were younger I would read the Rap and Inos series to them. Those, the "Seventh Sword" series and the "Blade" books are Duncan's best. This first book in the "Blade" series is fantastic, though the reader's accent is a bit distracting. I look forward to seeing the rest of the "Blade" books on Audible in the future.

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