The Broken Lands:
Farm boy Rolf returns from the fields to find his parents slaughtered and his sister missing, taken by the forces of satrap Ekuman, an agent of The East. Rolf goes looking for Lisa, his missing sister, and winds up joining the resistance against the Empire of the East. Only the Elephant can stop Ekuman. But no one knows what an Elephant is...
First off, I like my fantasy to have the remnants of old technology lying around so Rolf's world is right up my alley. I'm really glad this didn't devolve into standard fantasy cliche plot #1, the farm boy discovers his mysterious heritage, which it easily could have given that Rolf's a farm boy. Saberhagen's writing style reminds me of Roger Zelazny's, another plus. The only gripe I have with is that an illustration on the back cover told me what the Elephant was.The Black Mountains:
The armies of the West are joined by a wizard named Gray. Rolf's search for his sister continues. Satrap Chup, reduced to being a beggar at the end of the first book, regains his mobility and throws in his lot with Som the Dead, minion of Zapranoth the Demon Lord.
I liked this better than the first book, from the flying Valkries that took the bodies of the dead back to Draffat the Beast Lord, to the machinations of Chambrian and Chup. Chup's storyline was by far more compelling than Rolf's in the first book. He's a much less of a fantasy cliche than Rolf.Ardneh's World:
The war between the East and West comes to its conclusion. Ardneh takes on his evil counterpart, Orcus, in a battle of epic proportions. Rolf escapes the East with Catherine, a slave girl, and finally meets Ardneh. The origins of the technology, Ardneh, and the demons of the East is revealed.
Ardneh's World brings the Empire of the East trilogy to a satisfying conclusion. I liked the revelations about the origins of Ardneh, Orcus, and the Demons. Rolf was still a pretty flat character but his relationship with Catherine was good. I love that Charmian got what was coming to her. Chup, as always, stole the show with his Chuppiness.
The fantasy world that Saberhagen has created is an original one. I may have to give the Swords trilogy a shot somewhere down the line.
I'd recommend this to people who like their fantasy to have some science fiction mingled with it, fans of authors like Roger Zelazny, Philip Jose Farmer, and Michael Moorcock.