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Swordheart by T. Kingfisher is a fantasy romance set in the world of the White Rat. Halla is a widow now trapped in her own home by her in-laws who are trying to force her to remarry so they can control her inheritance. In the middle of the chaos, she grabs an old sword and releases an enchanted bodyguard, Sarkis. Together they set off to find help in the form of a lawyer.
This book has three distinct parts: the journey out, the journey back, and the final confrontation. The journey out serves to introduce Halla and Sarkis and their very different backgrounds. Halla is a middle aged woman who has a set of life experiences and skills that don't overlap at all with swordwielding. Sarkis had a life as a warrior centuries earlier before being enchanted into the sword. Now he's sat for a very long time in deed as a wall decoration and is depressed by how much things have change. And yet, he's duty bound to serve Halla.
The trip back involves a Priest of the White Rat, a gnole, an ox, and lots and lots of theories as to how being an enchanted sword works. It's also an exploration into the worlds' religions, politics, and changing landscape.
Some of my favorite scenes come during the return trip. The way Zale and Halla unintentionally gang up against Sarkis to understand how being enchanted in a sword is both fascinating and hilarious.
The journey back also puts this novel onto the road narrative spectrum. The dynamic of the party and those they meet on the road is that of the scarecrow and minotaur (99) and is echoed more intimately in the developing relationship between Halla (who wishes to protect Sarkis as much as she needs his protection) and Sarkis (who often sees himself as a cursed monster).
The destination is home (66). While I don't usually count return trips as road narrative spectrum stories, this one counts because the status of home changes over the course of the journey. Yes, at it's most basic, the home is the same one that Halla and Sarkis leave, but it's one she grows to love while she's away, and one she is ultimately willing to fight and sacrifice for.
The route they take is the cornfield (FF), taken first metaphorically through the many roadside ditches Sarkis pulls Halla in on the way out. Then it becomes more literal when a short cut through a field leads to the Vagrant Hills, a landscape that lures people in and imprisons them. Passing through them is part of the process of convincing Halla that the fight is worth the journey.
Summarized Swordheart is about a scarecrow and minotaur traveling home via the cornfield (9966FF).