Top critical review
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on February 28, 2015
I love stories with strong female leads, and Sword Masters is just that. I also love stories that are immersive and describe not only the plot and characters, but a realistic world around them. Sword Masters fell a bit lower on that scale.
The story starts off as a coming of age book as orphaned swordswoman Taurius, seeking vengeance for her dead family, manages to make the cut in the school for Sword Masters. But she's disguised as a boy since girls aren't allowed. Oh, and she's already the best sword fighter in the world. Which kind of makes the whole 2 year long school for Sword Masters section of the book just an excuse for Taruius to fall in love with a girl, not tell the girl her gender even when they make out, and then wait too long to tell her so that Tariuses world comes crashing down around her, with all of her hopes and dreams dashed. This makes for some nail biting suspense.
The Lesbian romance is kind of cliched, but doesn't get in the way of the story too much, and there is some good action. But some it is a bit suspect. The villains, the Amalites, are just the enemy - never really fleshed out as people; instead, they are just a plot device, who attack in conveniently small groups, spread out over convenient time frames so that Tarius can always overwhelm them with her personal ferocity and simple tactics. Flanking maneuvers always work. The tactics are fine, but this is definitely not military fantasy in the sense of great battles.
The story wraps up, with the enemy quickly conquered. No logistics needed after taking over their country, either. Nope. All done. Wrapped up with a bow. I like a good complete ending, but this ending was a bit too pat. And the Amalites a bit too much like the Washington Generals (the Basketball team who who's sole purpose is to be dramatically defeated by the flashy moves of the Harlem Globetrotters.)
So, the story and characters were ok, but I would have liked more immersive detail. And an ending that didn't seem so tacked on.