Blade of Secrets – Tricia Levenseller – Bladesmith #1 – Feiwel & Friends – Published 4 May 2021
Eighteen-year-old Ziva prefers metal to people. She spends her days tucked away in her forge, safe from society and the anxiety it causes her, using her magical gift to craft unique weapons imbued with power.
Then Ziva receives a commission from a powerful warlord, and the result is a sword capable of stealing its victims’ secrets. A sword that can cut far deeper than the length of its blade. A sword with the strength to topple kingdoms. When Ziva learns of the warlord’s intentions to use the weapon to enslave all the world under her rule, she takes her sister and flees.
Joined by a distractingly handsome mercenary and a young scholar with extensive knowledge of the world’s known magics, Ziva and her sister set out on a quest to keep the sword safe until they can find a worthy wielder or a way to destroy it entirely.
Blade of Secrets is the first book in a new duology by Tricia Levenseller. It is a great fantasy novel, with an authentic main character, intrigue, and romance.
Ziva is a blacksmith. She feels most comfortable when she is in her forge, tucked safe away from other people. She also has the ability to infuse magic within the weapons she creates and she is building a name for herself with these abilities. When a warlord commissions Ziva to create a powerful weapon, Ziva discovers that the weapon she creates – far more powerful than she ever could have imagined – is not destined to help keep the peace in their newly divided kingdom, but to wreak destruction. Ziva, her sister, a scholar interested in magic and a mercenary for hire, unexpectedly band together to outrun the warlord.
This is a bit of a quest novel, except they are trying to outrun someone rather than find something. A lot of the book is spend as the four main characters are on the road, trying to find someplace safe to stay, as well as discover some way that Ziva might be able to destroy or hide her powerful weapon.
Ziva has social anxiety and this presented very authentically throughout the book. It’s not a feature of the story, and yet it does effect every part of the book, as it is Ziva’s story and she narrates. It’s a very powerful part of the book and the way Ziva thinks, reacts and guards herself is a genuine reflection of her anxiety.
Alongside Ziva are our three other main characters. Ziva’s sister is awesome. Younger, Temra is Ziva’s self appointed protector. Ziva tries to guide and mother Temra in the absence of their parents, both dead, but Temra is a free spirit, social butterfly and well able to protect herself and Ziva with both blade and her wits. Joining them on their sudden journey is a magic scholar Petrik, who wants to learn more about the magic Ziva puts into her weapons. The final, reluctant member of the group is Kellyn. He is a mercenary, motivated by the money Ziva can pay and the offer of a custom weapon. Ziva is initially attracted, then utterly repulsed to Kellyn. He is extremely handsome, and attraction is something new for Ziva, but she is disgusted with Kellyn’s character. As they journey together, Ziva learns a little more about his motives and history and continually surprises herself with how her feelings change towards Kellyn.
The end of this book was a nice surprise. The journey culminates in betrayal, injury, and a big magic weapon fight. There is also a reference to another story (that’s all I’ll say, don’t want to spoil the surprise) that I thought was really intriguing and sets the sequel up to be rather epic, I think. The book ends on a cliffhanger so I am desperate to get my hands on the second book as soon as possible.
There is diverse character representation throughout the novel, and many strong female characters including Ziva and Temra, as well as the female warlord villain.
An intriguing fantasy novel and I do so love duologies, so I highly recommend Blade of Secrets.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction
Themes: Magic, weapons, blacksmith, romance, anxiety, sisters,
Reading age guide: Ages 13 and up.
Advisory: Sexual references (kissing, sneaking out to meet boys, sexual tension.) Violence – injury, fighting, magic weapons, death, murder, including cutting someone in half. Occasional coarse language, sh** (1), pi** (5).
Representation: Protagonist has anxiety. 1 black main character, 3 white main characters. LGBT side character relationships. Heterosexual main character relationships.
Published: 4 May 2021 by Feiwel and Friends.
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 336 pages.