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The Sword and the Dagger    by Robert Cochran order for
Sword and the Dagger
by Robert Cochran
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2019 (2019)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Robert Cochran's The Sword and the Dagger is an unlikely yet engaging historical saga. Its leads are a princess who knows her own mind and has surprising life skills; the obnoxious (at least initially) Prince whom she's expected to marry to unite their kingdoms; and the young Muslim assassin who's been assigned to kill her.

The story opens in Tripoli, 1220 AD, as Princess Elaine anticipates the arrival of Prince Conrad of Antioch with little enthusiasm. He certainly lives down to her low expectations. Rashid, an Assassin trained since age five in the Eagle's Nest by the Old Man of the Mountain, is undercover as a stable boy. Killing Elaine is his path to Paradise.

Rashid gets his opportunity, but is undone by Elaine's kindness and fails in his task. Elaine does not choose to spend her life in fear of assassination. She frees Rashid on condition that he take her to the Old Man of the Mountain. Conrad pursues them, and their adventures begin. A quest assigned by the Old Man takes them to the court of Genghis Khan and back.

What makes the story interesting are the characters. Elaine is a feisty heroine, but also an empathetic and culturally sensitive one. Conrad evolves from someone very easy to dislike into a heroic figure. This unlikely trio become friends, and more. Don't miss The Sword and the Dagger, and be sure to take in the Historical Note at the end as well.

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