“Who the hell is Dave Duncan?”
I am so very glad you asked!!
While I’ve written before about a couple of my favorite authors, they were names you likely recognize if you read much in the way of urban fantasy. Jim Butcher and Neil Gaiman are practically household names at this point.
Dave Duncan – far less so.
And he didn’t write urban fantasy, either.
Let me tell you a little story…
As I mentioned before, I started reading my mother’s books when I was in fourth grade. I started with high fantasy, and I couldn’t get enough of them. A couple of years later, when my grandfather (my mother’s father) visited from California, not only did he encourage my writing (hence Wake Up Call being dedicated to him), but he also encouraged my reading. As such, he bought me two series. The first was by Terry Brooks (Oh, I will certainly fanbug on this one later!!), and the second by Dave Duncan. Specifically, The Seventh Sword series.
It was a trilogy (at the time), and still ranks among my favorite books. Someone from OUR world – a computer programmer – wakes up in the body of a swordsman in a world that makes no sense to him. He has no idea of history, of culture, of traditions. He has seven swords etched upon his brow, and he has no freaking clue where those came from or what they mean.
Apparently, they meant he was a pretty big deal.
The gods of this other world took his soul as he was dying in our world, and put it in the body of this dying swordsman. A second chance at life, so to speak.
He sets out on an epic quest throughout the trilogy, and it sucks you right in. Yes, Wallie (ah, dear, sweet Wallie) is awkward, and he has all these ideals from our world, and yet at the same time, he has to SAVE this other world, one with concepts his modern mind balks at (such as slavery and, oh right, gods).
I can’t even tell you how many times I have read through these books. So much so, I completely wore out the first of the series, and had to buy a new one only a few years ago. I read them at the time my grandfather provided them, and again every few years. So many of the concepts were foreign to my fifth/sixth grader mind, but I knew I loved it.
More concepts made sense in junior, high school, college, etc.
About four years ago, I discovered he had published a fourth book in the series. I re-read the trilogy once more, so very excited to be seeing my old friends once more, before diving into the fourth book.
Ok, for me? It fell flat. Everything I loved about the first series was gone. Instead, we are left with two men who are THE ultimate bad asses, who are familiar with everything, and, well, it just didn’t work for me.
But I STRONGLY recommend you read the first three of the series if you can get your hands on them. These three were a huge inspiration to the younger me, and helped to mold my creative processes.
If you like sci-fi, I also recommend Strings. It’s an early predecessor to all those movies you see about clones being raised, tucked away from the rest of the world, and brought in to be harvested for their organs. Did you see the Ewan McGregar movie, The Island? If you liked it, you will enjoy this book. Again, one I strongly recommend.