Imagine my joy when I discovered The Sword and the Dagger yesterday while book shopping. I don’t see them often. I’ve had copies in the shop in Dec 2009, June 2013, Feb 2018, June 2019… and now today.

The Sword and the Dagger was not the first Battletech novel. (Which BT book was first? Scroll down to the bottom of this post). But it is easily the most difficult to find. Copies in nice shape fetch over $100.

The Sword and the Dagger

1987 … Ardath Mayhar … FASA Corporation … 288 pages … ISBN 0931787777

Ardan Sortek is the commander of Hanse Davion’s personal guard. Although a long-time friend of Hanse’s, he has not yet learned the lessons of power. Through a chance series of events he stumbles upon a plot of such magnitude that it threatens the balance of power of Inner Sphere. Unfortunately, no one will believe him… Indeed, they think he is quite mad.

Check Wayne’s Books Inventory


Credits page. Cover art by David R. Deitrick. Illustrations by Duane Loose and David R. Deitrick. Maps by Dana Knutson. The battle scenes were written by William H. Keith.

…Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis had originally been contracted by FASA to write the novel and had created a ten-page synopsis of their suggestion for the story, but backed out of the deal when they found a better deal elsewhere. Ardath Mayhar’s publisher arranged for their contract to be transferred to her in 1986.

The page for Sword and the Dagger has some interesting background on the book

In the front of the book are two maps. Highland Peninsula Region during House Liao’s 3025 Invasion on Stein’s Folly. And the Inner Sphere as of the same date. My Battletech GM says:

The Inner Sphere map is kind of like seeing a working prototype of what would be to come!

In the back is a Glossary of Mechs, organizations, and factions. More interesting to me were the classic Battlemech art.

My Battletech GM says:

Wow… so much artwork. All of it is considered “unseen” because it’s “borrowed” from old anime before the US and Japan did proper licensing.

Decision at Thunder Rift

The actual first Battletech book is Decision at Thunder Rift by William H. Keith, Jr. The orange-cover edition is the first printing (June 1986). Black cover is the 3rd printing (Feb 1988). The Roc edition on the right is from 1992.

The early Thunder Rift prints command high prices, though not as dramatic as Sword and the Dagger.

See Also:

TRAVELLER Adventure Class Ships, Vol 1 & 2 (1982): Deckplans Galore – William H. Keith was quite prolific in the early days of RPGs and old school gaming in general. He was heavily involved in the genesis of Battletech, Traveller, Twilight 2000, and countless other games.

BATTLETECH: The early FASA Scenario Packs: Who and What is in the Cover Art?

BATTLETECH Poster (1986): Black Widow & Fox’s Teeth

Battletech Poster… by Boris Vallejo? Oh Yes.