Kirsten Reviews: The Millennial Sword by Shannon Phillips
The Millennial Sword by Shannon Phillips
Viveka Janssen isn't a dragonslayer. She's a practical Midwestern girl brought to San Francisco by the prospect of an entry-level PR job, and her greatest ambitions involve finding an apartment and making a good impression at work. But Viv's sensible nature is shaken when she comes into possession of the legendary sword Excalibur, and finds herself thrust into the front lines of a shadow war against the immortal armies of Morgan le Fay. Ancient and malevolent creatures hunt the streets by night. Monsters out of fairy tales lurk in subway tunnels. Only Excalibur—and Viv—stand between human civilization and the forces of wild magic. And the dragons are hungry...
The Millennial Sword by Shannon Phillips begins with a premise that many people can identify with: moving to begin a new job. Along the way, Viveka, the protagonist, has to find affordable housing, and take care of her moody cat.
This all seems like enough to deal with, but then a woman gives Viveka a sword and dashes off. To make it even more bizarre, nearly nobody can see: Excalibur. Viveka has been inducted into the ranks of those chosen to be a Lady of the Lake. Her duty is to do her best to protect the citizens of San Francisco from Morgan Le Fay, who fantasy lovers will know is the queen of the fairies, and who has a habit of terrorizing people, and kidnapping their children. Viveka may want to stay out of trouble, especially when she’s not even sure what she should be doing with a sword, but she isn’t going to stand around while kids are being stolen. This, on top of the almost required ‘messy love life’ of a fantasy heroine, and a steep learning curve.
Phillips builds the world, the mythology, and characters fairly strongly, and it’s easy to understand Viveka and what she’s going through. However; from there the story doesn’t feel as if it comes together very strongly in places.
Viveka isn’t an unlikeable character, or even hard to identify with, but she doesn’t go out and look for answers. The sword is given to her without explanation, she is approached by people who can give her information that will help her in finding answers and defeating her enemies, and overall, it’s like being in a study group for fantasy destinies. In other words, it’s not that Viveka doesn’t act, but she has to be given instructions first.
There are a lot of interesting characters, and it should be mentioned that not all of them are straight men, which is a nice change from some genre trends, and the world is given a strong foundation, but both the setting and characters could use some development. Introducing interesting secondary characters only pays off if they have bigger roles both in the life of the protagonist and the plot overall, and that’s one area where this book suffers.
All things being told, the book sets up a character who doesn’t spend all her time wringing her hands about her destiny, and instead acts. If, in future books, Viveka does more on her own without being told what to do, and there are more opportunities for the other characters to have lives and plots of their own, the series will be even more interesting.