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By the Sword: A Repairman Jack Novel    by F. Paul Wilson order for
By the Sword
by F. Paul Wilson
Order:  USA  Can
Forge, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Jack still hasn't come to terms with the guilt he's suffering after being forced to sacrifice the life of his unborn daughter Emma to save his girlfriend Gia and her daughter Vicky from certain death. Some months have passed since that horrific day and neither Jack nor Gia has been able to discuss or accept the loss of their child, so Jack figures it's time to get back to work. When he answers an inquiry to recover a stolen Japanese katana that had at one time resided in the Hiroshima Peace Museum, he accepts the job, convinced that it'll be an easy fix.

Jack soon realises that once again, nothing in his life ever comes easy. As luck would have it, various other parties are also interested in obtaining the katana, including a nasty group of Yakuza, a mysterious order of mystical Japanese monks, as well as Kicker leader Hank Thompson. Jack's also trying to locate a young teenager named Dawn who seems to have vanished. Everyone, including Jack's arch nemesis Rasalom, wants to get their hands on the pregnant teen. All of them believe that her unborn child is some sort of messiah, the final catalyst in the upcoming battle between good and evil. Jack now swings into action doing what he does best, orchestrating a confrontation between all the bad guys so he can swoop in and not only retrieve the sword, but also rescue Dawn.

Jack takes less of a centre stage in this latest instalment - he's somewhat overshadowed by the large cast of characters eager to get their hands on the mystical katana as well as instigate other forms of mayhem. Wilson balances that out nicely, however, by finally bringing the mysterious Glaeken (now an aging gentleman going by the name of Mr. Veilleur) out of the shadows. Though not completely willing to share all of his dark secrets, the former immortal warrior does answer certain provocative questions about their mutual enemy Rasalom. He also helps his protégé begin understanding his own role in the long-time cosmic war between the Ally and the Otherness.

In his Author's Note, Wilson explains that the Adversary Cycle will conclude over the next 3-4 books. For a character who was initially a one shot deal in The Tomb (originally released in the early 1980's), Jack's resurrection and his many adventures have made for first rate reading. Indeed in my mind, Repairman Jack remains one of the most engaging and unique characters in fantasy fiction. I'll be both excited and sorry to see Wilson's series reach its conclusion. On the other hand, what better way to honour Jack than by reading the entire series over again?

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