Back when I first read Swordspoint, I wasn’t totally won over. Something about the sting in the romance really didn’t work for me — I wanted Alec and Richard to be a lot easier to categorise, their love to have less sharp edges. But going into it for this reread knowing that’s the way it is, I actually enjoyed it all quite a lot: the back and forth of banter, the trading of barbs, the politicking and, yeah, the bond between Richard and Alec, and what it will drive them both to. Swordspoint does have sharp edges, and the love story is not as saccharine as some might wish (including teenage Bibliophibians), but in reality it works really well.
Perhaps it’s best not to think too much about how sustainable the political system described would be, with the use of swordsmen to outsource arguments. I just enjoyed Swordspoint for the melodrama of manners that it is, and thrilled along with Alec to Richard’s skill and ferocity as a swordsman.