Russell F. Hirsch
REVIEW: Sword of Power by Oliver Potzsch
Today, we’re diving back in time to 17th-century Prague!
We’re getting there through the historical fantasy novel Sword of Power, second book in The Black Musketeers series, by German novelist Oliver Potzsch, and translated into English by Jaime McGill.
258 pages, published by Amazon Crossing and distributed in Canada by Thomas Allen & Son.
Potzsch is a popular historical fiction and fantasy writer who lives in Munich, crafting books for children and adults alike. Family history provides partial inspiration for his books as he’s descended from a line of hangmen!
NOT Oliver Potzsch!
ACTUALLY Oliver Potzsch (photo Gerald von Foris)
I had not read Book of the Night, the first novel in this series, but I didn’t feel disoriented as I delved into the second adventure. The action focuses on 15 year-old Lukas, the young lord of Lohenfels Castle. When an astrologer arrives with news that three of the Kaiser’s most treasured artifacts have been stolen, it’s up to Lukas and his band of swashbuckling friends to retrieve them. His younger sister Elsa, a sorceress, transports them to Prague to search for the artifacts, but every day she succumbs more and more to the corrupting powers of her magical grimoire, .
Prague, looking enchanting: Frank Chmura/Getty Images
There, they team up with Gwendolyn, a witty Welsh thief, and commander Zoltan, a famed mercenary and leader of the titular Black Musketeers. As the team searches Prague, they encounter mysterious messengers and dire sword fights; mad alchemists and strange creatures.
Potzsch dedicated this novel to the founder of The Dark Eye , a German role playing game, and with its combination of crumbling castles, booby-trapped laboratories, and perilous graveyards, the novel certainly has an RPG flavour. The plot is fast and the characters are fun, but for me, the historical context really gives the book its interest. Set against the backdrop of the Thirty Years’ War–-one of the deadliest conflicts in European history—the book emphasizes inclusivity. Lukas’ best friends include an Italian and a Frenchman. Throw in the wise rabbi they consult and the message of working together across cultures blossoms among the brothers-in-arms—even as Lukas and his own sister drift further apart.
The Battle of White Mountain, originally fought in 1620 at the start of the Thirty Years’ War, is still regularly reenacted.
Without throwing too many spoilers around, the plot reaches an intriguing resolution. The search for the missing artifacts is resolved, but war still rages and several relationships need serious mending, suggesting the adventures of the Black Musketeers will continue with a third book and beyond…
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