Seven Deadly Swords by Peter Sutton, £9.99, Kristell Ink
Reviewed by Allen Stroud
Reymond and his six companions sought adventure in the Crusades and fought many battles on their way to the Holy Land. But one night they were changed and became something else – immortal and doomed under a sorcerer’s curse.
Reyymond’s quest to end the geas spans nearly a thousand years as he encounters his former friends, slaying them one after another until he too is killed and resurrected into the body of another to begin his task again.
Seven Deadly Swords is a story that brings together a diverse collection of classic and modern mythology. The story of Reymond has echoes of Connor MacLeod, of the Highlander films and this is clearly seen in the action scenes as the main characters duel throughout the ages, eschewing guns and explosives to battle one another with their ancient blades. However, it also intentionally invokes the sins and the virtues, with Reymond and his companions seemingly anointed as Paladins during their crusade, but then slipping into abject sin as the curse takes hold. The whole package makes for an interesting fictional backstory and one that Sutton uses carefully to ensure his narrative is not weighed down by too meticulous a description.
This light touch is both a blessing and a curse for Seven Deadly Swords. Events move along quickly but are rarely detailed enough. Each time period and encounter, told in a juxtaposed sequence, is rapidly dealt with so we may move on to the next chapter, and the next. For a story this momentous, a little more time with Reymond is needed, or there needs to be a bit more development of Mari, the daughter of one of his vessels in the 21st century. Or, a little more about the plans of Sebastien before the great reveal in the last few pages.
Sutton describes action well, with the cost of Reymond’s quest clearly laid out to us. He is a man losing his mind and soul as he fights toward eternal rest, trying to use his particular sin – an unquenching rage – to free his doomed companions as well. For Reymond, events of the past are blurring together, and he can barely stand to be around his former associates before the anger consumes him and he launches himself at them. This is a tragic character, trying to do the right thing before his humanity evaporates and the curse takes over completely. In a way, Sutton is invoking and welding in another genre archetype, the revenant – a dead man kept alive by their need for revenge.Seven Deadly Swords is a compact tale that works well as a tribute to Highlander, if it is intended as such.