Though I have been following Lindsay Buroker on Twitter for quite a while, until this week the only book of hers that I’d read was Torrent. After finishing that one, I noticed that a lot of the reviews mentioned all of her other books as being better. With that in mind, I decided to pick up another one of her books. After skimming the titles listed on her Amazon page, I settled with Balanced on the Blade’s Edge, which is the first book in her ongoing Dragon Blood series.
Before reading any further, be warned that this review may contain spoilers.
I knew that I was in for long haul when … Sardelle was first introduced in the story. The book begins by introducing us to the other main character, Colonel Ridge Zirklander. But, as soon as we learn what we need to know about him, it shifts gears and takes us to Sardelle. And how can you not immediately be sucked into a story where you have a magical being who has just woken up from a 300-year state of stasis? Oh, and she’s telepathically talking to a magic sword.
Style snippet … Though you can read a sample of this book on Amazon, I picked out an early passage that I enjoyed to give a glimpse of the style and tone that you can expect from this book.
“We were shepherds,” Sardelle went on — the colonel was writing down her lies, so she might as well go on with her story, “– a very boring lifestyle for a young person. That’s why I left — to find a little excitement. That and the arranged marriage. I wasn’t ready to settle down. I went off to the coast and got a job on a merchant ship.” She actually could answer questions about sea life, if asked. She has traveled with the fleet often to defend the country from enemy warships. “After a year, we were caught by pirates. I was given the option of walking the plank or joining the crew. I’m not very brave. I joined. They treated me … decently, I suppose. The first year was tough, but eventually I became one of them.
Zirklander had stopped writing. He had one boot up on the couch, his elbow on his knee, and his chin resting on his fist. Waiting for her to finish this fabricated story and see if she gave away anything useful in the telling? Yes. She didn’t need her empathetic senses to tell that.
“Are you done?” he asked.
“I have another five years I can go over. But, ah, you don’t seem to be recording the details.”
The book is full of funny moments, mostly between Sardelle and her sword. Humor seems to be a common theme in Buroker’s works, from what I can tell. She doesn’t ever force the humor, and when you get to a funny line or passage, it truly does give you a bit of a chuckle.
What surprised me about this book … is that at it’s heart, it is really just a romance novel set in a fantasy world. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I was just under the impression that I was getting a steampunk book and what I actually got was a romance set in a past fantasy world where the only real steampunk element was an airship. Honestly, I would categorize this book as Fantasy Romance. That being said, I think there are enough cool fantasy-type things in this book for someone who is not really a romance novel fan (like me) to be able to enjoy it. But hardcore steampunk fans are probably not going to be happy with this book.
My favorite character … has got to be a tie between Jaxi, the sword, and the plane engineer who doesn’t appear until near the end of the book. Jaxi has a lot of snark and delivers most of the funniest lines in the book. And the engineer is just a character that you instantly like, maybe because he is on Sardelle’s side or maybe because he just seems like a swell guy.
Overall, this was a fun read for me. While it won’t be making the list of my favorite fantasy books, it is easy for me to see why this book is so popular right now. Since this book is part of a series, I want to mention that it does NOT have a cliffhanger ending, so you can read it without needing to read the other books in the series. But, if you do enjoy it, I recently saw the author mention that the 5th book in the Dragon Blood series is due to be released in May.