Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Review: The Fireborne Blade by Charlotte Bond

The Fireborne Blade by Charlotte Bond
Tor Books
Publication Date: May 28th, 2024
Hardcover. 176 pages.

About The Fireborne Blade:

"Kill the dragon. Find the blade. Reclaim her honor.

It’s that, or end up like countless knights before her, as a puddle of gore and molten armor.

Maddileh is a knight. There aren’t many women in her line of work, and it often feels like the sneering and contempt from her peers is harder to stomach than the actual dragon slaying. But she’s a knight, and made of sterner stuff.

A minor infraction forces her to redeem her honor in the most dramatic way possible, she must retrieve the fabled Fireborne Blade from its keeper, legendary dragon the White Lady, or die trying. If history tells us anything, it's that “die trying” is where to wager your coin.

Maddileh’s tale contains a rich history of dragons, ill-fated knights, scheming squires, and sapphic love, with deceptions and double-crosses that will keep you guessing right up to its dramatic conclusion. Ultimately, The Fireborne Blade is about the roles we refuse to accept, and of the place we make for ourselves in the world."

The Fireborne Blade is a compulsively readable novella that I truly adored. I saw a few reviews that described this as very basic dragon fantasy and that it didn't have all that much to offer to the genre, and while I can somewhat understand where these comments are coming from, I have to vehemently disagree with them. I was actually hesitant to even start this book because I've been disappointed by so many similar-sounding novellas (and even novels), but I'm really glad I decided to give this one a go anyway because it has great dragon lore, interesting characters, a familiar yet unique premise, and writing that kept me hooked.

The Fireborne Blade follows disgraced knight Maddileh as she attempts to recover the fireborne blade from a notorious dragon. That's basic enough, right? Sure, but it's the way that Charlotte Bond tells this story and incorporates some really fun details that set it apart. Bond manages to tell this story in a way that very carefully and consistently brings the reader along along on the journey and dishes out information step by step. The Fireborne Blade presents a split timeline, one in the present following Maddileh and her assistant through the caves to find the dragon and (attempt to) retrieve the blade, and the other set in the past as we see what led up to Maddileh embarking upon this quest and how she did so. I love the simplicity of this story because it makes it a very easy story to follow with some very key elements at play, but it elevates this by taking those elements and having some fun with them.

The world-building is admittedly a little bit lacking in this book, but since it's a novella that's typically what I tend to expect. I do feel that there was a decent enough amount of background given in this world to keep readers grounded and give a good sense of what's going on, and I enjoyed the world-building that we did get to explore. Plus, this appears to be the start of what may be a seres (?), so I'm hopeful that more will be explored as the stories continue. I particularly enjoyed learning about the dragons and their different powers and abilities, as well as the ways in which they can terrorize humans and how their scales and whatnot can affect them.

I can't say too much more about the world or the characters or any sort of details because I don't want to give anything away. There are a fun few twists in this book that I think worked well for the story. I was a little irritated by a couple parts in the ending that felt a bit too "easy" (although that's a critique that sometimes bothers me), but overall I think it worked the way it was meant to and I ended up having a really fun time with it.

Bond's writing is exquisite, and this novella has absolutely persuaded me to check out some of her other work. There is some very dry, clever humor running in the background of the story that works so well and feels effortless. I also loved that her writing had so much detail interspersed throughout it that made everything feel very real and lived-in. If it had been written with less flair or minor details that caught my attention, I'd have likely lost interest. I would personally love to read this as a full length novel, but I think it works well as a novella as well.

The atmosphere is also captured perfectly at different turns in the story. There's a strong sense of darkness and almost grittiness to this world and story. It doesn't feel like a very nice place and it feels a bit unforgiving and almost cruel at times, and I appreciated how Bond managed to balance this atmosphere with other emotions throughout the book.

Overall, I’ve given the The Fireborne Blade 4.5 stars! If you like dragons and fantasy and mini quests, be sure to pick this one up!

*I received a copy of  The Fireborne Blade in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating.*

Buy the book: Amazon | Bookshop.org

1 comment:

  1. I have heard good things about this. Isn't there a sequel coming out soon? Definitely one I'd pick up if I had time😁