Lincoln's Sword

The country is divided against itself and a lot of blood has been shed in such places as Pea Ridge and Shiloh. Mary Todd Lincol is a sibyl and her grim visions (which include seeing a certain sword) are interpreted by her friend, and an accomplished seer in her own right, Mercy Levering Conkling.

There is hope and it arrives in the form of Thomas, a mysterious figure who has been able to master both time and space.

These three people - Mary, Mercy, and Thomas - come together to try to bring hope for a brighter future. In this, they are aided by collaborators great and small that include Cole Younger and Abraham Lincoln.

The book has left me feeling ambivalent. I liked some elements of it, but others not so much.

First, what did I like? The paranormal elements as shown in Mary Todd Lincoln's prophesying and Mercy Conkling's "seeing". While I do not know much about Mrs. Conkling's background, from what I know of Mary Lincoln's, she was "melancholic" and seeing grim prophecies is one good reason for it. I also liked Cole Younger's portrayal along with his gifts of touch and his development of another ability that is pivotal to the story.

Having said that, now the other side of the coin. First, while generally a good read, the story did not flow. To me, it almost seemed to read like disconnected scenes (or vignettes) that only had one or two unifying factors (the sword and/or the Civil War).

Which brings me to the next point - the sword. It appears throughout the book, but seems superfluous to it. Even the last time it was mention/used. Having read (and re-read) the scene, it left me wondering why? I think that scene would have been just as effective without having used the sword.

Finally, Lincoln's Sword left me wanting to know more. In the book, Cole Younger is introduced to General Pike from whom he learns part of what he needs to know. Okay, but exactly how is he taught? There are such instances throughout the book, and that includes the sword. The reader - at least this reader - comes away with knowing the sword is important (and the last time the sword is shown in the book why it is important, but I already mentioned that) in so many ways, but not entirely why or what the sword's background is.

Book Blurb for Lincoln's Sword

The union is doomed, its death foretold in the fever dreams of Mary Todd Lincoln . . .

As a great nation's destiny is being written in blood on the battlefields of Pea Ridge and Shiloh, a grim tomorrow is foreseen by a deeply troubled first lady and interpreted by her best friend, Mercy, herself an accomplished seer. But hope appears out of the mist with the arrival of Thomas, a mysterious stranger with an astonishing mastery over time and space. Against the backdrop of the Civil War's greatest events, these three must join together to salvage a future with the aid of unlikely collaborators: the uncannily gifted Confederate captain Cole Younger, his notorious career as a bank robber as yet undetermined, and President Lincoln himself, called upon to willingly make the ultimate sacrifice.

And the key to their desperate endeavor lies in a mysterious image from Mrs. Lincoln's tortured visions—a magical sword which, when wielded, will bring redemption . . . or destruction. 

Night Owl Reviews Aug, 2010 3.00