Christopher Sinclair goes out for a walk on a mild Arizona evening and never comes back. He stumbles into a freezing winter under an impossible night sky, where magic is real — but bought at a terrible price.
A misplaced act of decency lands him in a brawl with an arrogant nobleman and puts him under a death sentence. In desperation he agrees to be drafted into an eternal war, serving as a priest of the Bright Lady, Goddess of Healing. But when Marcius, god of war, offers the only hope of a way home to his wife, Christopher pledges to him instead, plunging the church into turmoil and setting him on a path of violence and notoriety.
To win enough power to open a path home, this mild-mannered mechanical engineer must survive duelists, assassins, and the never-ending threat of monsters, with only his makeshift technology to compete with swords and magic.
But the gods and demons have other plans. Christopher’s fate will save the world… or destroy it.
The Sword of the Bright Lady (TSOTBL) is the first book in the World of Prime series by M.C. Planck. I discovered it whilst browsing the SciFi/ Fantasy section in the bookstore and decided that it might actually be worth my time. As I deduced from reading the back cover, the premise of The Sword of the Bright Lady was fascinating and unique, making use of the familiar idea of parallel universes while adding an original perspective. My brother E. swiped it up and read it before I had a chance and revealed a few interesting tidbits- first, the main character has to invent guns in the world he was transported to and second, the ending was quite astonishing and not at all what he anticipated.
The world, characters, and society in TSOTBL were crafted well and with sufficient detail and depth. This, in part, seems to be due to the main character Christopher’s sudden arrival in an unknown realm that he knows nothing about. He is as a newborn babe entering the world, completely unaware of culture, traditions, and the dangers of society. Everything must be explained to him, and even when he is told what to do or how to act he screws up on a grand scale. The society is largely based around nobility and the churches, both of which have access to very powerful magic that can work a variety of wonders or horrors. In order to escape his first epic mistake, Christopher is drafted into the church of the Bright Lady, though he specifically serves the Bright Lady’s war aspect. He continues to serve by making rifles and cannons for the recruits in hopes that Marcius, the war aspect, will help him find his way back to Earth and his beloved Maggie.
The ending was as E. had described it- utterly astonishing. After Christopher and his little army of recruits defeat a horde of monsters with their newly minted rifles they struggle to march back to the town of Kingsrock to have their dead revived. Christopher is woken in a strange dungeon where he is tortured for an unknown amount of time by a mysterious captor and then killed, only to be revived by the Saint of the Bright Lady. I found this short segment to be disturbing, though it was not greatly detailed and written as if by a dispassionate observer. Perhaps the blunt simplicity with which the horrors inflicted on Christopher were described made the impact more powerful because so many other writers go into such great detail when describing atrocities.
The story overall was strong and I see much potential for the rest of the series, though I did find some segments to be a bit dull or repetitive. I have no doubt that the minor character will have their roles fleshed out more in the coming books and some of the duller bits will be rendered vital to the storyline. I found the magic and rank system to be quite interesting because it was largely reminiscent of the leveling system in most video games- you kill more enemies, you gain more levels and become more powerful. The Sword of the Bright Lady has well earned 4 out of 5 stars and the ending left so many options for stories to come.