By Frans Bengtsson, author of The Longships
. The Sword Does Not Jest
is an obscure but well-written biography of Charles XII. As with many biographies, it makes no pretence of hiding the author's hero worship of his subject, but the style is saga-like, entertaining and worth the read.
Provides examples of:
- Anticlimax: Charles was killed by a stray shot:
His fate was destined to a foreign strand
A petty fortress and a dubious hand
He left the name at which the world grew pale
To paint a moral or adorn a tale.
- Badass Army: Sweden has one.
- Badass Family: The Vasas, Sweden's royal family.
- Bodyguarding a Badass: The Drabants regiment.
- Four-Star Badass: Charles
- Proud Warrior Race: Swedes, at least as described by Bengtsson. At that time it would have been accurate.
- Real Men Love Jesus: Charles
- The Rival: Peter the Great
- Swedes with Cool Muskets
- Title Drop: Charles discussing diplomacy with his minister Stenbock: "The sword must do best, for it does not jest."
- Teen Genius: Charles
- Translation Distillation: Bengtsson's original Swedish-language biography, Karl XIIs Levnad (1932), was a two-volume work heavy on primary source material, including private correspondence and diaries from Charles' contemporaries. This English translation is heavily abridged for narrative clarity.
- Warrior Prince: Charles. One of the last European monarchs to take part in hand-to-hand combat.