Sarah Beauhall has more on her plate than most 20-somethings: day job as a blacksmith, night job as a props manager for low-budget movies, and her free time is spent fighting in a medieval re-enactment group. The lead actor breaks Sarah's favorite one-of-a-kind sword, and to avoid reshooting scenes, Sarah agrees to repair the blade. One of the extras, who claims to be a dwarf, offers to help. And that's when things start to get weird.
Could the sword really be magic, as the "dwarf" claims? Are dragons really living among us as shapeshifters? And as if things weren't surreal enough, Sarah's girlfriend Katie breaks out the dreaded phrase... "I love you." As her life begins to fall apart, first her relationship with Katie, then her job at the movie studio, and finally her blacksmithing career, Sarah hits rock bottom. It is at this moment, when she has lost everything she has prized, that one of the dragons makes their move. And suddenly what was unthinkable becomes all too real... and Sarah will have to decide if she can reject what is safe and become the heroine who is needed to save her world.
©2010 John A. Pitts (P)2014 Audible Inc.
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"Heroine falls way short"
The elements are all there ... magical sword, mysterious society, dragons, trolls, giants, etc. But the story is plagued by weak character development and a somewhat impotent heroine who continually falls short. While you always want your heroine to have some flaws her steadfast best friend or love interest can fix, the heroine in this book continually falls short in an embarrassingly stupid way.
She pisses herself the first time she is confronted by the enemy; she's lesbian and only had sex with one lover, but gets drunk and takes on two men (for the first time) at once (would never happen); the bad guy has beaten and done god-knows-what-else to her girlfriend and is dragging her away toward a helicopter, but the heroine pauses her rescue pursuit to jump into a bunch of other skirmishes on the battlefield to rescue other people before later remembering about -- oh, yeah, Katie, good she's still resisting the bad guy; the big battle is pretty much over and she doesn't even check on her lover before telling some other people that she's going off chase the bad guy; she does pause in the battle to lust over a Valkyrie; after nearly losing her lover and her own life, she declares her love for Katie, but then proceeds to have a very non-sexual relationship even though their relationship was sexual at the beginning of the book.
So, I'm thinking. Don't know who J.A. Pitts is, but this author is definitely a guy. He is so caught up in who stabbed who and the mechanics of the battle, the character development is skimpy and totally unrealistic, especially for a fantasy.
Finally, as long as we talking about battle mechanics, another thing that bothered me were the times that the heroine stood back and watched when she should acting --- stabbing, talking, running, something. It drove me nuts. As much as I wanted to like this book, I don't think I can stand to listen to the next in the series. What I'd love to do is edit the first book instead. It has great potential.
I really enjoyed this book. While I agree with other reviewers in that the story could use some polish, the characters and their quirky lives make this a book series I look forward to with great expectations.
Some people may find this book a bit scatter shot and the personal growth the main character experiences is extensive; but I feel it creates a strong foundation that this series can build upon. I can't wait for the next installment.
"Great contemporary fantasy"
Yep I struggled to get in to this, what with the endless female angst monologues. But then the story and the characters grab you and before you know it, you're seeing dragons in every sneer.
"Great Concept and World Building"
It is among the top of the list of books I have listened to.
Sarah of course but I also like all of the other supporting characters
she did a great job with all of them
Both could be very entertaining and very emotional.
I would like more in this series
"finally, a new profession"
When Fredericks took over the movie company
She brings a voice not my own which changes my perspective
My main reaction was: "What Next?" it kept me guessing.
"Great Twist on Urban Fantasy"
**Reviews courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy**
What more could you want in a main character? A skilled female blacksmith, a member of the Society for Creative Anachronisms, and she wears Doc Martens. Along with a great main character there is a great story in BLACK BLADE BLUES filled with Norse mythology, dragons, and ancient swords reforged.
I love the characters in BLACK BLADE BLUES. I already mentioned a lot of the awesome things about Sarah, but what I love the most about her is how flawed she is. It’s always fun to see a character start out kicking butt and taking names, but it’s even better to see a character struggle and develop before she starts taking out the bad guys. All that being said, Sarah has a lot of issues to work through and a lot of this book is spent in developing her character. The action doesn’t really pick up until the last quarter of the book.
Once the action does get going it’s almost non-stop. J.A. Pitts writes amazing, detailed battle scenes. I also found them to be refreshingly realistic. Most of the characters in BLACK BLADE BLUES are only just finding out about monsters, so even though they’re part of the SCA they aren’t battle hardened fighters. This means that quite a few people die in the final battle scene. It’s always painful to see characters die, but at the same time I’ve gotten tired of the super human monster hunters that rarely make fatal mistakes.
So this was my first time listening to this book, but I’ve read the series before. One of the things I look for in a five bat book is a story that only gets better with each reread. BLACK BLADE BLUES definitely fits that criteria. Even though I knew just how it was going to turn out, I still cringed at Sarah’s poor decisions, enjoyed the happy moments, while dreading the awful moments ahead. Black Blade Blues is an amazing start to one of my favorite series.
Notes on Audiobook: J.A. Pitts tells BLACK BLADE BLUES through the first person perspective of Sarah, but there are a handful of chapters that are told from the third person perspective of some of Sarah’s friends. I didn’t have a problem following the transitions in the print version, but it did throw me off a couple of times during the audiobook. I don’t think that’s the fault of the narrator just part of J.A. Pitts writing style. Erin Bennet did a great job of bringing the characters to life through her wide vocal range and narrated BLACK BLADE BLUES amazingly.
"Nice change of pace"
I was good to hear a fresh story. In what might have lagged in a traditional plot is intriguing to see how the author navigates a lesbian relationship w a badass lead.
"A great story concept but the book needs editing."
I loved the concept behind the story. However, the writing is choppy and the narration could have been better. Both of these improve in book two and three. Note: I just got done with listening to the the four book Aragon series. As a result, I had very high expectations. In the Aragon series both the writing and narration were vastly superior to this series. Another thing I did not like about all three books in this series was the amount of explicit sex. If I want porn, I will read porn... This is not a series for young teens, and for sure not pre-teens.
I hope that the author finishes the series. a fourth book would be delightful and would close the loose ends.
"Not a fan"
This is a fantasy-adventure story that takes place in the modern world. It initially sounded like it might be a fun and/or interesting take on the genre but it ended up being pretty standard. The plot, action, and characters were a combination of cliche and unconvincing. The dialogue of the stereotypical fantasy characters (wizards, witches, dragons) was hyper-formalized and cheesy. That would not necessarily be a bad thing if the story didn't take itself so seriously. So it basically sounds like it written by someone who frequents way too many Renaissance festivals. Even the main character's struggle dealing with her sexual identity--which could have been the most interesting part of the story--also seemed cliche and her relationship with her girlfriend seemed underdeveloped.
I'd guess that those who want a standard fantasy story that includes a character with an identity crisis may enjoy it. Personally, though, I'm not a fan.
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