Book Tour Review: The Sword In The Street

So what would you expect a book called The Sword In The Street to be about? Well, C.M. Caplan has written a book that is much more than that.

Rather than the dark heroic tale of the fierce knight battling the forces of evil to save the kingdom, what his book provides is a character driven queer fantasy story with a medieval setting. Caplan uses the story to delve into real topics and issues in a way you may not expect from a fantasy tale. Yes of course there is swordplay, and even some blood, but there is much more than that.

Sword, at its heart, is a story about a relationship tested by adversities. 

John is a hired swordsman serving at the pleasure of his patron Lordess Triumph. He comes from an impoverished family, orphaned as a boy and raised in a house of ill repute. Though John has trained for years and fights and wins repeatedly for his patron, her miserly pay has left him trapped in poverty.

His boyfriend Edwin comes from a well to do family of the merchant class. Edwin is autistic and without the use of the Ash (a smoked drug) he suffers severe anxiety and irrational fear. His family doesn’t really know what to do with Edwin, and they and Edwin don’t get along. So, they’ve packed him off to university and provide him only a modest allowance. 

Though John and Edwin have been together for a couple of years, they don’t always see eye to eye. John loves being a swordsman but Edwin fears for his safety each time he duels. Money is a constant issue. Edwin has the single minded desires of a young man and looks to John to fulfill his needs. John leaves work tired each day and is less interested in sex than Edwin. See what I mean about real topics and issues?

Beyond John and Edwin there is Aubrey, Edwin’s college friend. Aubrey suffers with her own issues, having been raped at the hands of one of the Lords and coping, in part, through self harm. 

One day during his college studies Edwin comes across a forgotten law. Aubrey helps Edwin put his discovery before the Wise Masters of the university. They believe it should still be enforced, and press their case with the Council. This change threatens to upend society and endanger John’s livelihood. Suddenly John, Edwin and their friends are all thrown into a growing cycle of deceit and intrigue - a cycle that tests John and Edwin’s relationship. 

While the characters and their interactions are sympathetic and well developed, they inhabit a world that is only partly revealed. We get just enough of their medieval-style city to suffice for the story. But there is enough there to have piqued my curiosity, making me want to learn more. I do know that Caplan has plans for further books set in this world, and I am looking forward to reading them.

I really enjoyed this book. John and Edwin, though they have their own unique problems, typify the trials and dynamics of a long term relationship in realistic terms. They and Aubrey are so well written that you easily get drawn into their struggles and are rooting for them to succeed. I give The Sword In The Street Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐.

NOTE: This blog post is my stop on Escapist Tours online tour for C. M. Caplan's The Sword In The Stone. I received a review copy from the author and Escapist Tours in exchange for participating in the tour and providing a fair and unbiased review. 

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Title: The Sword In The Street
Author: C. M. Caplan
Publisher: Razor Sharp Books
Publish Date: March 2, 2021
ISBN-13: 9780578820644
List Price: $15.00 (Paperback as of 01/2022, Hardcover & Kindle versions also available)