I read this book in the mid 90s and for the life of me I can’t remember the name of it. Here are some things that I think I remember although I’m not 100% sure.

The author is either of Native American descent or if not there are Native American themes in the book.

For some reason I think there might be the word “black” in the title.

This was a book with two central protagonists, one young boy, who went on a journey, found a sword that would telepathically speak to him, and some sort of princess-like character. The only detail I remember about the story is that they would regularly refer to "heartstrings" - almost like the HP bar of the characters. The swords would strengthen the heartstrings of the people wielding them. The person holding the sword could take more damage and still live as long as there were still these “heartstrings” between the wielder and the sword.

There was a river involved who was the antagonist. The boy went to the head of the river and poured something into it which flowed down the river and killed it/wiped away the evil/badness.

That’s about what I remember. I believe there was a second book and possibly a third but I need to find this first one.

  • 1
    Assuming this is you, can you confirm that it's not "The Ash Staff" by Paul R. Fisher?
    – Valorum
    Jul 7, 2018 at 7:03
  • 2
    It’s not The Ash Staff. I’m 100% positive it’s not that. Jul 7, 2018 at 18:58
  • 1
    It is 100% The Waterborn. The 2nd book in the series is the Blackgod which in my original question I thought the word black was in the title. Thank you a million times over for this!! May 9, 2020 at 15:55
  • 1
    Don't forget to "accept" the answer by clicking on the tick next to it.
    – Valorum
    May 9, 2020 at 17:27

1 Answer 1


The Waterborn by Greg Keyes. Seems there are only two books in the series, and both are available on Kindle.

The River flowed through all the land, deep and unstoppable, a god in his own right. His head was in the mountains; his arms embraced the outlands; his body lay at the core of all the civilized realms; and his legs stretched on to the distant sea. Dark and sluggish, he rolled unchallenged, dreaming his own invincible might and glory into stark reality.

Everywhere he touched, the River God held dominion. And in Nhol, the fabled city at the heart of the world, an emperor ruled as the living aspect of the god, presiding over the splendors and intrigues of a prosperous land and a glittering court.

Hezhi was an imperial princess; her blood carried the seeds of the River's power. When her favorite cousin disappeared, Hezhi searched throughout the sumptuous palace with its ghosts and priests, giants and courtiers, and frightening creatures of wizardry. And the magic within her began to grow; soon it must attract dangerous attention. Hezhi's anxious quest ripened into a desperate fight for her own life--a battle she could not hope to win alone.

Small wonder that the princess wished for a hero.

And far away, a hero's journey began...

  • 3
    Could you edit this to explain how it matches the description in the question?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    May 8, 2020 at 14:53
  • The reviews mention a magic talking sword.
    – FuzzyBoots
    May 8, 2020 at 17:58

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