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Literature / Have Sword Will Travel

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Have Sword, Will Travel is a children's fantasy adventure novel by Garth Nix.

While they fish for eels, Odo and Eleanor find a sword buried in river mud. Odo accidentally awakens the sword, a talking blade called Biter. Biter knights Odo, and insists that he goes on a quest. Eleanor, eager to be a knight like her late mother, agrees to be Odo's squire, and they set off to find out what's causing the river to dry up.


Tropes for this book include:

  • And the Adventure Continues: Eleanor and Odo decide to remain knights, and go to stop a wolf invasion at their village.
  • Bait the Dog: When Eleanor and Odo hear that another knight is in a village, Odo thinks it means they don't have to fight a dragon alone and Eleanor is eager to see a pro. Although Sir Saskia greets them cordially, she humiliates Odo in a duel the next day and then is revealed to be a Fake Ultimate Hero.
  • Big Bad: It's revealed that Sir Saskia is this, since she and her brigands were the ones who dammed up the river as a means to starve the people on purpose.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • Unlike Biter, who operates on Honor Before Reason, Runnel encourages this in Eleanor. She points out that not all foes will be honorable, and a foe like a dragon won't allow you to fight fair.
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    • Sir Saskia is not much better. When Quenwulf corners her and her squire, Saskia before she can be judged tries to knife the dragon in the eye. It proves to be a No-Sell.
  • Cool Big Sis: When she isn't lamenting about her "curse," Runnel proves to be this to Biter, who is seventy years her junior.
  • Cruel Mercy: The fate that Quenwulf bestows on Sir Saskia: to walk for one thousand days in the east, without talking to anyone. If Sir Saskia is truly remorseful, she will have a chance. If she doesn't, she'll die of thirst and hunger.
  • Didn't Think This Through: When they blow up the river dam, all in one swoop, Odo realizes belatedly that they have accidentally caused a flood, and he, Eleanor and Old Rice have to outrun it.
  • Doing In the Wizard: When they go far enough upstream, Eleanor and Odo find that a manmade dam, not a dragon, is blocking the river, and that it's a fire-shooting machine that is boiling the river water and burning peple alive. It was all a scheme by Sir Saskia to rob the villages dry by pretending to rob them.
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  • Even Evil Has Standards: Something Eleanor notes; while Sir Forenian was an awful tyrant, a bully, and a medieval arms dealer, he never pretended to be noble and heroic, the way Sir Saskia does.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Runnel and Biter both agree that people that pretend dragons exist and starve entire villages don't deserve to live. Odo at least agrees that it's very wrong.

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