Have Sword Will Travel is the first in a new series set in a medieval-like fantasy world with young best friends Odo and Eleanor setting off on a series of adventures. Fishing for eels generally doesn’t result in one being dubbed a knight by an enchanted talking sword but this is what happens to a somewhat reluctant Sir Odo. He is happy being the miller’s son and having a quiet life in their village. In contrast, Eleanor would love to be a knight, as her mother was, and chafes at being named Odo’s squire. She longs for adventure.
There are some subtly embedded messages about not judging a book by its cover and, without a spoiler, I can say that the gender balance and equality for which Nix and Williams are well known is maintained in this book, including a proud female knight who, at least at first, Eleanor would love to be like. None of these messages distract from the pace of the narrative and the clever, often witty dialogue.
Their children’s first quest is to discover why the river Silverrun, which gives life to their village, is drying up. The story will appeal to children as the parents in it are supportive and kit them out for their perilous journey, rather than having the expected response of keeping them safe at home. On their journey we readers meet an exciting array of characters including serfs, oppressive lords, bandits, a villainous blacksmith, a witch and, of course, a fire breathing dragon!
The tale is well-written and will appeal to kids around 8-12 years old but it would also be a great story for bedtime for younger ones too. I predict this series will be as popular as the previous works by these two Australian authors. I can highly recommend it.
Reviewed by Jan Kershaw
Rating out of 10: 8
Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: November 2018