Have Sword, Will Travel
by Garth Nix & Sean Williams
Odo never dreamed of leaving his small town. His best friend, Eleanor, longs for adventure. Everything changes for the two of them when Odo pulls an enchanted sword, Biter, from the river.
Even though Odo doesn’t want adventure, Biter knights him and demands that Odo go on a quest to discover why the town’s river has dried up. Eleanor goes along, excited for the chance to explore the unknown. Along the way, Odo and Eleanor discover that life outside of their village is full of both good and evil and that danger often lurks in unexpected places.
A fast-paced story full of interesting characters—human and non-human— Have Sword, Will Travel takes the reader on an epic adventure. Eleanor is a feisty heroine and Odo is a reluctant hero that children will love. Written with humor, the story teaches lessons such as not bending the truth, fighting for what is right, and defending those in need.
- When two boys make fun of Odo, the sword attempts to attack them. The sword slices “a figure-eight through the air despite Odo’s efforts to keep him grounded.” Odo manages to stop the sword, and the boys run off.
- Odo must fight Fyrennian, a cruel smith. When Biter attempts to kill Fyrennian, Odo “managed to pull back on the sword at the last moment, deflecting the sword from a killing thrust.”
- Eleanor is corned by a huge dog. She flings hot coals on the floor, trapping the dog.
- Someone hits Fyrennian on the head, and “the smith toppled forward like a stone.”
- A refugee tells a story about “corpses drifting down the river, the bodies of people cooked to death in boiling water.”
- Sir Saskia challenges Odo to a duel to keep the citizens entertained. The battle is described over several pages. Odo is outmatched, and Sir Saskia strikes Odo’s shoulder twice. “His shoulder felt like it was swelling up inside the armor.” She hits Odo in the same spot a third time, “on his shoulder again, jarring it so much he lost feeling all the way down his arm. His nerveless fingers could no longer hold the sword, and the grip on his left hand was too weak.” Odo is forced to yield.
- A dragon attacks Odo and Eleanor. Odo strikes the dragon. “The blade scored a vivid line in the blackened hide, exposing softer bone-white flesh beneath . . . he stabbed forward and pierced one wing right up to the cross-guard.” An older woman comes and helps the children escape.
- A group of Sir Saskia’s troops attacks Eleanor. A person trips and “impaled himself” on the sword. In the end, there is, “one wounded, one dying . . . maybe . . . and one surrendered.”
- Odo and Eleanor blow up a dam that has been built to stop the river from flowing. When they do, Odo almost drowns. “Odo lay weakly on his stomach, coughing up dirty water while Eleanor pounded his back.”
- Odo and Eleanor get into a battle with bandits. The battle lasts over several pages. “Biter came down point-first on Mannix’s shoulder, shearing through his armor as if it were no more than river mud. Mannix screamed and swore and clutched at the wound with his left hand, his right arm now useless.” During the fight, Eleanor is kicked with steel-clad boots, and “the pain was like fire.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- At home, Eleanor drinks weak ale because water isn’t always clean.
- Odo and Eleanor find a group of men passing around mugs. One of the men is telling a story. In the middle of the story he stops, and they see his “eyes suddenly rolling back into his head and his falling backward, unconscious. Fortunately, the arms of his friends were ready to catch him . . .”
- Biter, an enchanted sword, is able to talk and control his own movements. He teaches Odo how to wield a sword and act like a knight. Later in the story, the children find Biter’s sister, who believes she is cursed and will bring death to those who wield her.
- A smith has a firestarter that came from a dragon. He uses it to terrorize others into working for him.
- A dragon appears to judge several of the characters in the book. The dragon looks at Odo, “really looked at him. He felt her ancient, knowing gaze penetrate into the very depths of his being.” Mannix is found guilty and the “dragon’s tail moved again, whipping around like a scorpion’s, the long spike on the end stabbing Mannix right through the middle and then flipping him back into the dragon’s mouth. It happened so quickly he didn’t even have time to scream.” Another person is cursed and forced to do as the dragon commands.
- Urthkin, “pale-skinned, reed-slender demi-humans” that have “paws like a mole’s, with digging claws,” only come out at night because light hurts their eyes. They believe that “wisdom comes from closer to the ground.”