I'm looking for a fantasy novel about a young soldier who meets an old sorcerer after a battle and persuades him to make a magic sword to help him get back to camp alive. Sorcerer grudgingly agrees, makes him collect the swords of fallen soldiers, fuses them into one sword and teleports away. Later, the soldier figures out that the sword makes him kill his opponent in any fight (and also makes him immortal), but it has limited "charges" - when he kills a set number of people, he dies too (the way I remember it, it was seen as the sorcerer fumbling the spell). The novel ends with him becoming a tavern owner and hanging his sword on the wall.

It was a part of a series, all set in one world, but with generally independent stories. It had a bunch of different magic systems, as I recall - like sorcerers using weird formulas, or warlocks, who had their powers given to them by mysterious entity and their power grew whenever they used that power, but when they became too powerful, they started to feel compulsion to go "somewhere", which was proportional to warlock's power, and eventually gave in to never be seen again.

1 Answer 1


That sounds very much like "The Misenchanted Sword" by Lawrence Watt-Evans

A soldier by the name of Valder is on patrol. The enemy forces notice him spying, and send a small group (including a half demon "Shatra") to capture (or more likely kill) him.

Valder gains ground, but cannot get away from those following him.

Eventually, he runs across the camp of a retired wizard. Before Valder can explain that he is being followed by the bad guys, they attack and destroy the wizard's house.

The wizard disguises himself and Valder as corpses, and the enemy soldiers leave.

The wizard is really unhappy that his house and many of his special magical things were destroyed, but he agrees to help Valder get back to his unit.

The wizard spends most of a day casting spells on Valder's sword. He doesn't tell Valder what exactly all the spells do. He just tells Valder that the sword now has a name ("Wirikidor," which means "slayer of warriors" or some such.) The wizard also tells him not to draw the sword until he has left the wizard's camp.

The wizard then packs up and leaves overnight, leaving Valder alone with the sword.

Valder discovers that the sword can't be put back in its sheath until it has killed someone, and that it turns him into an unbeatable swordsman. But, it can only handle one foe each time it is drawn, and must be sheathed and redrawn to take on the next.

The Army's wizards analyse it, and discover some things about it:

  1. It uses a spell to remain razor sharp at all times.
  2. It uses a spell called "Elran's immortal animation" to make it move and fight.
  3. It uses a spell called "the spell of true ownership" to make the sword obey only Valder, and to make it always stay close to him.
  4. Valder's life is tied to the spells - he cannot die as long as the spells hold.
  5. The name "Wirikidor" would be better translated as "man killer."

There's another thing to complicate the whole mess: The spell of true owership was done wrong. It will not obey Valder forever. After he has used the sword one hundred times, the sword will kill him. The next person who uses it will get to use it 99 times, and after that 98. At some point, some sap will draw the sword and it will immediately kill him.

The rest of the story tells how the war ends, and Valder goes on to try to live a normal life despite the sword and its side effects.

Valder does become a tavern owner, and keeps the sword on the wall above the fireplace in the tavern.

Valder's sword is not made from the swords of fallen enemy soldiers. The wizard does keep Valder busy collecting odd items needed to cast the spells, though.

Other than that , I think "The Misenchanted Sword" fits your description pretty well. It is even the first of a series of books set in the world of Ethshar.

One of the few fantasy stories I've ever read and enjoyed. I mostly dislike fantasy, but this is a really good story.

I've read another couple of books from the same series, and they were also pretty good.

  • 2
    FWIW, another of the Ethshar books was the answer to scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/209272
    – FuzzyBoots
    Oct 29, 2019 at 11:25
  • 14
    The killer decrementing aspect sounds like a modern programming bug. Oct 29, 2019 at 15:17
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    @YetAnotherRandomUser: The cause was the use of a brass ring instead of a gold ring in the "spell of true ownership." Only gold never tarnishes. The relationship between person and sword "tarnishes" with each use, until the sword rejects the person. The next person starts out with the relationship tarnished, and it just gets worse. The wizard accidentally used a brass ring instead of gold. He dug the wrong one out of the ashes of his house after spending the night sleeping in a marsh in the rain - and was hungry to boot because the bad guys destroyed everything just before suppertime.
    – JRE
    Oct 29, 2019 at 16:17
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    @YetAnotherRandomUser At some point, some sap will draw the sword and it will immediately kill him. So... What happens to the guy after that? Can he then kill 4,294,967,295 people before it kills him? Or only 65,535? Or is it a signed value and he can only bring people back to life with it? Oct 29, 2019 at 20:12
  • 4
    @DarrelHoffman: According to the story, the spells will at that point be exhausted and Wirikidor will revert to being a plain, Army issue sword with no magic about it at all.
    – JRE
    Oct 29, 2019 at 20:14

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