The Privilege of the Sword : Riverside

  • by Ellen Kushner
  • Narrated by Ellen Kushner, Nick Sullivan, Joe Hurley, Neil Gaiman, Katherine Kellgren, Felicia Day, Barbara Rosenblat
  • Series: Riverside
  • 15 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Award-winning author, narrator, and screenwriter Neil Gaiman personally selected this book, and, using the tools of the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), cast the narrators and produced this work for his audiobook label, Neil Gaiman Presents.
The Privilege of the Sword tells the tale of a young girl who risks everything to go live with her eccentric, litigious - and extremely rich – uncle Alec in the colorful city Kushner has created, a city where elegant nobles can mingle with raffish actors one moment and deadly swordsmen the next. Fans of Kushner's first book, Swordspoint, will already be familiar with Alec as the angry young scholar with mysterious origins, living in the city’s Riverside district with a notorious killer swordsman. Now, in The Privilege of the Sword, some years later, Alec is the Mad Duke Tremontaine, living in a mansion on the Hill, still tortured by his past….
But you don’t need to have read Swordspoint to enjoy The Privilege of the Sword. This is the story of Katherine herself, a girl who starts out imagining her life will be a sort of Jane Austen-style romance, full of dances and dresses and parties - but finds that her iconoclastic uncle has other plans. When she gets to his house in the city, the Mad Duke dresses Lady Katherine in men's clothes, gets her a first-rate tutor in swordplay, and sets her loose on a traditional world that is not really ready for her…. Nor, at first, is she ready for it.
A few words from Neil on Privilege of the Sword: "Life hands us so many moments when we hover between who we were raised to be, who the people around us are trying to make us, and who we are trying to become. In Katherine's case, that means encountering a range of people and behaviors her mother never prepared her for - including some shocking acts of violence, both physical and emotional. As one of Kushner’s most charming characters, an actress known as 'The Black Rose', sighs, 'It's all so very difficult, until you get the hang of it.'"
In this exciting new "illuminated production", the author herself reads her own work, supported by a full cast. Author Ellen Kushner is also a popular performer and National Public Radio host (Sound & Spirit). As with her previous audiobooks, the award-winning Witches of Lublin and Swordspoint, Ellen teamed up with Sue Zizza of SueMedia Productions to illuminate certain key scenes with some truly stunning sound elements, including original music commissioned just for this book (!) by composer Nathaniel Tronerud. Ellen Kushner reads all of the first-person narration from Katherine’s own point of view. In scenes where an omniscient narrator takes over, we’ve called on the amazing talents of the award-winning actor Barbara Rosenblat, a woman who's been called "the Meryl Streep of audiodrama". The cast also features Joe Hurley (Alec Campion: the Mad Duke Tremontaine), Felicia Day (Katherine Talbert), Nick Sullivan (Lord Ferris; Arthur Ghent), Katherine Kellgren (Lady Artemesia Fitz-Levi; Teresa Grey; Flavia "the Ugly Girl"), and Neil Gaiman himself (Rogues' Ball Artist)! The artwork used here is an original painting and design by Thomas Canty created exclusively for the Neil Gaiman Presents audiobook edition of The Privilege of the Sword.


What the Critics Say

"One of the most gorgeous books I've ever read: it's witty and wonderful, with characters that will provoke, charm, and delight." (Holly Black, coauthor of The Spiderwick Chronicles) "Unholy fun, and wholly fun… and elegant riposte, dazzlingly executed." (Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Teenage swordswoman loose in Riverside

It's just occurred to me that these books: Swordspoint, The Privilege of the Sword, The Fall of the Kings, would make a great TV series. It's such a fully realized world with lots of intrigue and fascinatingly amoral characters.

As ever, it's crucial to read the books in the right order. However, I think this is my favourite of the three. Maybe it's that I found Catherine, blundering naively around Riverside, making unsuitable challenges as she goes, really charming.

Ellen Kushner is a great narrator and I enjoy the dramatic scenes and music very much.

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- Beccameriel


I loved this long-awaited audio book. Katherine's voice is delightful - so innocent and excited at the beginning of the story, and developing into a much more mature viewpoint as the narrator grows up. Joe Hurley is terrific as the dissolute 'Mad Duke', and captures his lazy, drawling voice (and his abject misery) well.

The scenes with Katherine and Marcus as intrepid investigators are great, and I love their rivalry: 'Marcus, you rat!'

The 'enhanced' sections of the book are wonderful, and really bring the cast of characters to life.
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- Jan

Book Details

  • Release Date: 24-07-2012
  • Publisher: Neil Gaiman Presents