The Privilege of the Sword
by Ellen Kushner (Published by Bantam Spectra)
Nominated for Best Novel in 2006
Welcome to Riverside, where the aristocratic and the ambitious battle for power and prestige in the city’s labyrinth of streets and ballrooms, theatres and brothels, boudoirs and salons. Into this alluring and alarming world walks a bright young woman ready to take it on and make her fortune. A well-bred country girl, Katherine knows all the rules of conventional society. Her biggest mistake is thinking they apply.
Katherine’s host and uncle, Alec Campion, the capricious and decadent Mad Duke Tremontaine, is in charge here–and to him, rules are made to be broken. When he decides it would be far more amusing for his niece to learn swordplay than to follow the usual path to ballroom and husband, her world changes forever. And there’s no going back. Blade in hand, it’s up to Katherine to find her own way through a maze of secrets and betrayals, nobles and scoundrels–and to gain the power, respect, and self-discovery that come to those who master…