Beyond the City of Swords

by Marian Michener

Reviewed by Renette Davis

This is a wonderful science fiction story about love - between two women, between a woman and her daughter, between a woman and her brother, and between a woman and a young child suffering from a disease that looks a lot like juvenile Huntington's Disease.

Silla is the assistant to the master at the Highwall City sword academy. Her daughter, Pel, is about to compete in a sword contest, the winner of which will become apprentice and eventually the new sword master. When Silla catches her weapons man, Kyr, doing a sword routine, she is shocked because he is a woodman, and the woodpeople are not allowed to learn sword. It is believed that the woodpeople are inferior and incapable of learning something so difficult.

The woodpeople are the slaves in this city, and when it becomes obvious that one of them is a quiverer, he or she is turned out from the city. The citizens of the city don't know or care what happens to the quiverers, or tremblers as they are sometimes called, after they are forced to leave their homes.

Dranna, the current sword master, seems to have a particular antipathy toward the tremblers, turning out her own weapons woman at the first sign of twitching. Pel is in love with Dranna's son, Tay, and it is Tay who she will compete against in the sword contest, just as Silla competed against Dranna many years ago.

The names and places in this story are unfamiliar, but the human emotions expressed are very real. Anyone familiar with Huntington's Disease will recognize the quiverers and understand the heartache which they and their loved ones experience. I had a hard time putting this story down. Silla faces some very difficult decisions and things don't always turn out well for her, but the ending is perfect. I had tears in my eyes when I finished reading the story.

This story is available on the Huntington's Disease Information website at:

Created and maintained by Renette Davis. Send comments to her by clicking here. Send comments to Marian by clicking here.

Created: March 17, 2012
Last updated: March 18, 2012