Read Ring of Swords by Eleanor Arnason Online


For half a century, Earth has been on the brink of total war with an implacable alien race. Biologist Anna Perez is the first to discover the truth-the hwarhath have segregated their society strictly along gender lines, to prevent the warlike males from harming women and children. In their eyes, humans are a dishonorable and barbaric race who may require extermination......

Title : Ring of Swords
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780312890162
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 384 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Ring of Swords Reviews

  • Mitticus
    2019-01-21 11:19

    El conocimiento es el único consuelo seguro. Creo que te lo dije una vez. Y sólo hay dos actividades que te hacen olvidar siempre el sufrimiento de la vida: practicar el sexo y jugar con las ideas --RTC--

  • Rachel Brown
    2018-12-24 10:11

    A first-contact story involving a race of furry aliens, hwarhath, with a strictly gender-segregated society. The alien culture is wonderfully detailed, unusual but not gratuituously bizarre, and just captivated me. The plot is fairly standard, but the characterization and prose style is good, and oh, those aliens!

  • Lilia Ford
    2019-01-20 10:04

    Very well-written and smart. It's heavy on the speculative end of sci-fi, basically staging an extended debate about the conditions of personhood, the nature of intelligence and sentience, and the ethical dilemmas that arise when the usual assumptions of one's own people/species no longer apply. Despite the fact that most of the action is in the first half, there's plenty at stake, and the main characters, human and alien, are consistently sympathetic and involving. The book is 20 years old now, and I couldn't help feeling that attitudes towards sexuality ended up changing much faster than people anticipated. It perhaps makes the book feel tamer and more intellectually cautious than is fair that most of the ordinary humans of Arnason's future take for granted that homosexuality is deviant and even more open-minded characters are surprised by it. In 1994, the conceit of a society where heterosexuality is considered deviant and homosexuality the norm would have felt more radical than it can today, where I've read any number of stories based on that idea. Reading this book leaves you with the impression that even sci-fi writers had trouble imagining a future where different forms of sexuality would not only be legally "tolerated" but fully embraced--(let alone that all manner of sexual acts, including anal sex, rimming, fisting etc. might be described in detail in romance novels--and thank the gods for that!) Still, it does make me wonder how my favorite M/M sci-fi stories will be perceived in 2034.

  • Kiv
    2018-12-30 08:22

    This book is at once a hilarious look at the perils of diplomatic negotiations, and also a serious and unflinching anthropological piece exploring ideas of morality, sexuality, and gender politics. It asks questions of what allows a person to be given the status of personhood, and assumes nothing as a given truth during its exploration of the questions presented. Arnason’s aliens are incredibly real and easily relatable, while still remaining completely foreign. They are richly drawn, and clearly there is a wealth of knowledge to be had about them outside the information presented to us here. I could easily see myself forgetting that the hwarhath do not actually exist in our universe (to my knowledge). I could not put this book down, even through the small set of appendixes at the end (which happened to hold some of the most scathing and unflinching commentary of human society). This is a book that I can see myself re-reading again and again. It strikes me as an incredibly relevant work that will reward re-reading in different ways as time goes on. It’s both thought provoking and a genuinely fun read, and something I would honestly recommend to anyone

  • Text Addict
    2019-01-16 06:08

    This is what I call a "thinky" book, where important concepts are front and center; it is sociological science fiction, where it's not the aliens' military technology that's important but their culture, and especially how they wind up interacting with humans.It's also very well written, and completely unwilling to give either side all the moral high ground. The book, with the very intelligent and somewhat cold Anna Perez and the very worried Nicholas Sanders at its center, peels back multiple layers of assumptions about gender and power dynamics to expose some very interesting notions about human and alien societies. Not to mention about the myth of "it's always been this way." I don't think there's really any way to describe it further without spoiling it and undermining it, too. Just keep going through the somewhat clunky "military intelligence isn't" setup to get to the main part of the story. I think it compares favorably to certain high concept SF by the likes of C. J. Cherryh and Ursula K. LeGuin.

  • Zab
    2019-01-04 07:58

    "Anything worth doing is likely to be slow, difficult, and boring. This is not an invariable rule, but it works in most situations."Supreme pragmatism and candor are just two of the qualities that make Eleanor Arnason's prose anything but slow, difficult, or boring. This novel is about the messy interactions between humans and the Hwarhath, an incredibly well-realized alien species. Arnason's writing is good enough that the fact that the Hwarhath are all homosexual doesn't come off as remotely gimmicky, any more than sexuality is the main point of Ursula le Guin's _Left Hand of Darkness._Quirky yet serious, Arnason's prose is a bit less poetic than le Guin's, and a bit wryer. Politics, violence, romantic longing, and the threat of mass interstellar war have rarely come together in such an appealing package.

  • Galia
    2019-01-17 08:18

    Circulo de espadas esta muy bien escrito, es entretenido, nos enseña muchas, muchas cosas sobre nuestra propia cultura. Tiene sus ligeros toques de humor, romance y acción. Es una lectura altamente recomendada.¡LO AME!

  • Olethros
    2019-01-20 08:04

    -Curiosidad interesante.-Género. Ciencia-Ficción.Lo que nos cuenta. En el planeta que orbita la estrella G2 hay una pequeña colonia de biólogos investigadores, entre los que se encuentra Anna, que estudia las especies nativas del planeta. Pero además es el lugar elegido para el encuentro de diplomáticos y militares con una delegación hwarhath, la única especie inteligente que los humanos han encontrado y que también viaja por el espacio pero de la que no se sabe demasiado. La primera sorpresa durante el encuentro es que un humano acompaña a los hwarhath en labores de traductor y consejero, pero habrá más según se vayan conociendo nuevas costumbres de los alienígenas, entre las que llama la atención que su cultura es homosexual y que posiblemente el humano que les acompaña, Nicholas, podría mantener una relación con un miembro de esa especie.¿Quiere saber más de este libro, sin spoilers? Visite:

  • Stéphanie
    2019-01-06 05:15

    An intelligent book with a strong message. I like the way the author dealt with the incomprehensions between the two races about each others living-styles. Definitely a must read.

  • Jesse Lehrer
    2019-01-06 11:21

    Total surprise here - loved this book! Stumbled across it on some good scifi recs and was really pleasantly surprised. Culture, politics, language, sexuality, gender all come into play in this book - the writing was great and flowed so well I rarely put it down and read it over the course of a few days. Her characters were very interesting, and the cultural differences between the hwarhath and the humans were very thought provoking for sure. Definite recommend if you're into cultural commentary in scifi. The plot is somehow dry (in a good way) and fast paced and intriguing all at once.

  • Salvador Echavarria
    2019-01-13 09:16

    Interesante ver el choque culturar de las dos especies, donde los roles de lo masculino y lo femenino toman gran importancia. Una civilización regida por valores y eticas distintas que a los humanos, pero quiza no por ello mejores, o quiza si. Sin duda leer sobre una especie practicante de la homosexualidad y que aborrece la heterosexualidad humana resultara interesante. Mi unica pega es que me resulto un poco lento el comienzo, pero de ahí en fuera todo muy bien.

  • Stig Edvartsen
    2018-12-30 10:25

    Surprised this book is not more well known. It's a smart and thoughtful book about morals, ethics, rules of engagement in war, sexuality and how we as a society deal with violence. Rounded characters, good dialogue and an unpredictable story makes this a page-turner. It is hampered somewhat by a surprisingly passive protagonist, but that could possibly have been done on purpose to illustrate thought vs action.

  • Carmelo Medina
    2018-12-28 03:05

    Me gustó, la verdad, es uno de esos libros de la serie Nova que podrías considerar "menores" y que no te daría por leer y que esconde una novela muy interesante. Me ha hecho reflexionar y me ha descubierto ideas nuevas. Seguramente lo volveré a leer. Es de 4,5

  • Jennifer
    2018-12-27 06:00

    Well written and the concept works because we are talking about an alien species. I love the explicit diversity in the book even among the aliens they are not all the same color.

  • Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
    2019-01-04 05:00

    "Humans had build a world inside the world, which reflected it in pretty much the same way as a drop of water reflected the landscape. And yet ... and yet ..."Inside this little world they had taken pains to put all the things you might think they would want to escape from — hatred, fear, tyranny, and so forth. Death was intrigued. They thought they wanted to be taken out of themselves, and every art humans dreamt up took them further in. He was fascinated."—Terry Pratchett, Wyrd Sisters"'Have you read MacBeth?' she asked.'Yes. In the original and in Nicky's translation. I thought I could do something with it. The heterosexuality is irrelevant. The woman—that wonderful and horrible woman!—can be turned into a mother or sister. Then the story is about ambition and violence, which are decent topics that will not disturb anyone in the audience."The second quote is from page 157 of the edition I was reading. (It has a different cover. Very left over from the 80s type art.)Anyway, Arnason has structured her aliens' society to make some gender-related points I think, and also some ones about human culture, but honestly, the thing makes my head hurt. I kept thinking of the David Weber Axiom as formulated by Lavie Tidhar here, though in my head I compress it to "The only possible outcome between two groups with sufficiently incongruous interests is large-scale armed conflict." (This is probably not fair to Weber, Tidhar, or Arnason.)I'm not sure which is more painful to me — fiction that glorifies war or fiction that acknowledges that war is bad but kind of accepts that it's going to happen as a matter of course. Or to be fair, you might say "characters" or "cultures" rather than "fiction."

  • Just_ann_now
    2019-01-05 06:58

    I've been doing a thing with books lately; when I find an author that sounds interesting or I read short stories by, or however I hear about new authors (how do you hear about new authors?), I go to Goodreads and look up their most highly rated books. (And I should probably talk sometime about how really ambivalent I am about rating books, but I do it anyway). Then I order that book or put it on my wish list or request it from the library. I usually don't even read too much of the review, to find out what it's about – I don't mind spoilers for Sherlock TV shows, but I don't like them on books. (Who would have read the first A Game of Thrones book, if they had known what was going to happen?) And so that's what I did with Ring of Swords. And seriously, if I had just read the description: space ships, alien encounters, possible interplanetary war, I would have thought, this so not my thing. Friends of the Internet, this book was not really about those things AT ALL. Things this book was about: types of intelligences, matriarchal societies, the problem of male aggression, birth control in various cultures, alternate sexuality, asexuality, the significance of material culture, how on earth would a human even have sex with (no, sorry, that sounds more like a tumblr tag). Books this book was sort of like: The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell; The Gate to Women's Country, by Sheri S. Tepper.Books this book was really like: Not anything else I have ever read. Who would enjoy this book: People who like thinky books, even if they are not good at articulating why they like them so much. That would be people like me. Also, people who are good at articulating stuff like that would like it too. When Ann will learn to write a useful book review: Probably never.

  • Bryan Hall
    2019-01-14 10:05

    I picked this book up from the free-to-a-good-home pile in my lobby because the blurb on the cover says, "If Jane Austen had collaborated with Isaac Asimov, the results might have been something like this." I've read my share of Jane Austen, but no Asimov, so if that quote is to be trusted...then Asimov must be kind of terrible.I suppose there are some gender politics at work here, and it's sci-fi, so that's where they're coming from. But it took me months to read this, because it is just slow and boring. We're in the future, with faster-than-light travel, and we've discovered an alien race (they're described as being a bit shorter than humans, and furry, but I never pictured them as being cute like Ewoks or even Wookiees; also, I'm pretty sure they wear shorts most of the time?). This race, the "Hwarhath", have a female-governed society but the men are in charge of wars, and also homosexuality is the norm except for icky hetero procreation (or maybe they use test tubes for that) -- although I don't think any female-female relationships were ever even alluded to, so there goes your equality. The central conflict is over whether the Humans and the Hwarhath should be peaceful (at the risk of one side changing their minds and wiping out the other) or have a nice, civilized, all-out war. There's a little more to it than that, particularly in the first section of the book, but aren't you already kind of bored just reading that premise? If not, go ahead and read this book. But I warn you, not very much happens. I *suppose* all the talkiness might be interesting to some people, but...nah, I kind of doubt it. There's some exploration of how intelligent species would view one another, and what makes a species "intelligent", and why humans do things certain ways (back to gender politics, etc.), and those things are worth thinking about, but it all just drags. And aside from one sequence, fairly early on, nothing ever really *happens*. Just a lot of talking, and negotiating, and talking about negotiating, and zzzzzz...

  • Lisa Feld
    2018-12-31 03:59

    So, all I knew about this going in was a comment by the author in a roundtable interview of women SF writers: "It's a story that is set up to have a war, and the major characters decide that, instead, they're going to have a Shakespeare festival." Which was intriguing enough for me to chase down a copy. It also helps that I'm a sucker for first contact stories with lone humans surrounded by aliens and making horrible mistakes with the best of intentions because they don't understand what they're seeing.I had very mixed feelings about this story, in the end. It grabbed me intellectually but not emotionally--I thought the ideas were nifty and well executed, but the characters rarely pulled me in the way I wanted them to. One of the joys and frustrations about an experimental story like this is that it doesn't go where you expect it to go. And more frustrating, as in a Jane Austen novel, the major crises tend to happen off-stage. Unlike Jane Austen, the ending also just fizzled out. Unsatisfying for me. I wanted more resolution for the various characters' subplots.That being said, the language is graceful, I kept getting sucked back into this world, and it made me question a lot of my assumptions in the way good SF should. Definitely keeping this one for a second read.

  • Julian
    2018-12-30 08:10

    After loving Woman of the Iron People I was so excited to read another Eleanor Arnason book with a similar theme. Too bad this wasn't nearly as good. Way less in-depth and the main characters' lack of agency was frustrating (they were essentially controlled by the aliens and/or their human superiors all the time). The plot was kind of sketchily executed and the main character totally missed some points i thought she should have made when telling the aliens about human society. This feels nitpicky, but seriously, if the aliens are asserting that in their species all men are too warlike and violent to ever be around women, and her only response is "well they aren't ALL like that among humans" but she doesn't even mention that ANY women might also be violent or really even get into depth about human gender relations at all except to say that well yeah men kinda are violent and warlike and human women are just used to it, and oh by the way my father wasn't really violent he was just kinda emotionally absent, and the aliens nod and go "oh that's no good either"?? And that's it, that's all the aliens get about human gender relations. What, Eleanor Arnason? that's not how i thought you were from your other book, which was SO MUCH BETTER.

  • Charles
    2018-12-31 05:19

    An interesting and humorous novel similar, in some ways, to Le Guin's Left Hand of Darkness, in that it deals with the issue of what defines personhood. Like Left Hand of Darkness, it addresses this issue through contrasting human culture against an alien culture that is similar in some ways and drastically different in others.The character of Nicholas Sanders outshines the narrator. While Anna Perez is a compelling character, an argument could be made that Nicholas is the protagonist of the book, rather than her. There are some really great lines of dialogue in this book. Here are a couple:"Does everything on this planet have disgusting habits?" ... "Life has disgusting habits.""...what is the word for eaters of one another?""Capitalists."

  • Laura Gaelx
    2018-12-29 09:24

    Dentro de la ciencia ficción feminista hay un subgénero: el de las sociedades segregadas por sexo. 'Círculo de espadas' (título de lo más desafortunado) se enmarca en ella, adjudicando este tipo de organización social a una cultura alienígena humanoide con la que los terráqueos se ven condenados a negociar.Hay tantos puntos que comentar que voy a escribir un artículo sobre el tema.Sólo la antropología y la ciencia ficción nos hacen replanternos de una manera tan clara la gran pregunta de qué nos hace humanos.

  • Estibaliz79
    2018-12-27 10:18

    Buena novela de ciencia ficción especulativa, de ésas que, centrándose fundamentalmente en el aspecto social y el choque de culturas, no descuida por ello la intriga. Invita a reflexionar a la vez que entretiene, destacando temas como la sexualidad y su influencia como elemento determinante en los sistemas de organización social.Una segunda parte no estaría demás. Sin duda, el contexto y los personajes lo merecen.

  • Rachel
    2018-12-25 10:05

    Anthropological scifi, interesting characters, more slice-of-alien-diplomat-life than clearly defining rising action, climax, falling action. The ending seems like sequel bait, but unfortunately there's no sequel yet. The way the humans talk about race and culture is a bit incongruously modern--there's no sense that society has changed all in the future.

  • Ysse
    2019-01-21 06:25

    Started slow, the end was anti-climactic, and I prefer my aliens to be truly alien. Great world-building, but ultimately interesting, not exciting. Despite the threat of war as being a major plot point, for me it was all too supremely civilized--the suspense never crests, the emotions never reach the eyes.

  • Jason
    2019-01-13 06:16

    Hell, this one's just perfect. Good characters, a dry sense of humor, a good setting and the sort of anthropological slant that I always appreciate in C.J. Cherryh's work. Arnason might even out-Cherryh Cherryh. She comes close to out-Le Guining Le Guin.

  • Kathryn
    2019-01-02 04:27

    This book combines the best sci fi themes such as intelligence, comunication, culture, sexuality, and environmentalism.

  • Anthony Faber
    2019-01-21 10:24

    A whole novel about the Hwarhath and humans while they are trying to negotiate a peace. Very good.

  • Kristen
    2019-01-15 06:08

    I didn't even realize how much of a craving I had for hard yet sociological scifi, but man did this satisfy it.

  • Amy
    2019-01-20 07:09

    I love this book. It is among the best speculative fiction books dealing with sex roles and what it means to be human. Think "The Left Hand of Darkness" and "Six Moon Dance." Highly recommended.

  • Goge (BARRONS) le Moning Maniac,
    2018-12-26 10:19

    "humans are a dishonorable and barbaric race who may require extermination..." Interesting......