Book Review: The Sword in the Street by C.M. Caplan

3.5 very human, sword fighting, heartfelt stars!

Goodreads | Buy it now!

Representation: disabled author, neuroatypicality representation (autism), lgbtq+ representation (bisexual, gay, m/m relationship)

Content Warnings: discussion of rape, dubious substance use, anxiety disorders, mild blood and gore, classism, incarceration, physical injuries and wounds, poverty themes, scars

Welcome to my first blog tour review! Thank you so much Caffeine Book Tours and the publisher for giving me a free advanced readers copy for participation in this tour. Check out their launch page for this tour here.

For blood is mostly water, so let’s wash our hands of this.

The Sword in the Street was absolutely delightful. It really took all the elements of that expected medieval England feel, but made the characters so much more real and human than any other book I’ve read with a similar setting. It stood out to me immediately. There was all the awesomeness that we love from that setting and tone, from sword fighting to lords and lordesses. But it went above and beyond and made the characters incredibly relatable in a really unique and appealing way.

This book is about a city where the prominent figures, lords and lordesses, fight amongst themselves for dominance, but have their disputes settled by swordsmen. John is one of these swordsmen. The story follows John and his lover, Edwin, a student. It is about their trials and tribulations of being used by the lords and lordesses to settle disputes, all while trying to climb their way out of poverty to make a better life for themselves.

There’s no better time to do something than when you’re afraid of it. And maybe it truly is beyond your capabilities, but at least you can say you tried!

My favorite part of this book was absolutely the relationship between Edwin and John. Caplan really nailed so many intricacies of relationships and relationship problems I was so happy to be reading any bit about them together. Edwin and John really look out for each other, but it gets lost in translation sometimes, just like any other couple. But what I really loved about the two was the discussion on how money can affect relationships so easily. I’m sure this is completely relatable, considering statistics show how so many marriage arguments are rooted in money problems. I loved the back and forth and really showing that struggle on the page, it’s honestly something I’ve never really seen before in a way that seems so plausible. It was beautiful.

[T]he only way to make it right is to try and be better. Then you fail and try again. But you can’t do that if you’re caught up worrying over what’s already done, and what’s already done is not evil.

Every single character in this book (that we cared about, anyway) was able to grow as a person throughout the duration of this book. It was really touching, honestly. They all were able to learn lessons and apply it to their lives so they could grow and be together better. The best part was not just that everyone grew, but I absolutely loved how Caplan was really able to highlight how certain things in our lives can prevent us from growing. And how we can acknowledge those things and move past them. Absolutely wonderful.

It’s disrespectful to the very concept of these extra-worldly powers to think that I’m important enough for them to just do [something] on my behalf without me even putting in the work.

Though I really liked this book, there were a few things that bring my rating down just a bit. But I just want to say that these are small things and they are only things that i personally get less excited about right now, but there are good points to each of my small negative things, don’t worry! First being that I’m not super incredibly excited about books that take place in a thinly veiled medieval England. However, this book really did feel different than most, because of the beautiful characters. If you love that setting, this book will be absolutely incredible for you. The second thing that made me a little less excited was that I wanted more magic!!! However, even though there wasn’t magic I did like how the magic was presented. The idea of the way the magic works is nice and sweet and important, I think. I just wanted a bit more of it. That’s it!

Overall this book was really great. If you’re in the mood for a sword fighting book where the characters are way more real, relatable and lovable, this book is 100% for you.

Big Takeaway

The Sword in the Street is a lovely book that takes a nice spin on fantasy by really doing a great job in presenting very real and very believable interactions between a wonderful set of characters. It touches on relationship problems and victories in a way that I never see enough of. It was absolutely refreshing.

About the Author

C.M. Caplan is the author of The Sword in the Street. He’s a quadruplet (yes, really), mentally disabled, and he spent two years as the Senior Fiction Editor on a national magazine – while he was still an undergrad in college.
He has a degree in creative writing from Salem State University and was the recipient of the university’s highest honor in the arts. His short fiction also won an Honorable Mention in the 2019 Writers of the Future Contest.
Caplan’s introduction to fantasy came through J. R. R. Tolkien and George R. R. Martin. He has a tattoo that roughly translates to Valar Morghulis, as written in Tolkien’s Elvish script, in an acknowledgment of that fact. Other influences include Robin Hobb, Ellen Kushner, N.K. Jemisin, Katherine Addison, John Irving, Ann Petry, K.S. Villoso, and Neil Gaiman.
He currently lives in New England, where he works remotely for a social justice theater company.

I received a free digital copy of this book for participation in this tour. Thank you to CM Caplan and to Caffeine Book Tours!

Check out the Rest of the Tour

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