By The Sword by F.Paul Wilson
**** 464 pages Paperback Tor
Wow is it Book twelve of Repairman Jack already? Where has the time gone. This was the book in the series I was looking forward to because in conversation with Wilson at the Borderlands writers boot camp he referred to it as being his Yojimbo influenced novel. Being a fan of series but also of Akria Kurasawa's classic Samurai movie(which was also remade into the western fistful of dollars) I was excited to see how Wilson wove the concept into the world of Jack.
It was done with his typical plotting genius, Yojimbo is a movie where a hapless seeming Ronin walks into a village in conflict and works both sides while coming out on top. As Jack works some of the various cults to fight each other I was amused knowing this was Yojimbo influence. Knowing he was influenced by that film only adds to the plot weaving Wilson does when you consider that in many ways By the Sword is a sequel to the events in Black Wind, while also using events from several novels including The first Adversary novel The Keep and of course the previous 11 novels in the Jack series.
I am not sure why but I held off reading Black Wind, Wilson's 1988 classic novel of the second world war in the pacific. Perfect timing really as that novel informs this one. Indeed the Mcguffin comes straight out of Black Wind when Jack is hired by the son of Frank Slater (BM's narrator and main character) to find the family kantna( Sword) which had been in his adopted Japanese father's hand when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. The sword some how survived the blast and now it has been stolen from the family plantation in Hawaii, and the thief has made it back to NYC.
Since Harbingers I have come to the conclusion that it is no longer possible to just drop in on these repairman Jack novels. The events of Bloodline built in minor ways on the events of Harbingers but By the sword builds directly off of the last novel. Without knowing the depth of of the events in the last novel and Black wind to a lesser extent the full power of this novel might be lost.
By the Sword is a clear step up the ladder towards the end of this exciting series. This is an important and exciting entry in the series that is must read, but it helps to have read all the other books in the secret history of the world as well.