Tuesday Reviews – Balanced on the Blade’s Edge by Lindsay Buroker

Why I picked up this book:

On a night when I was feeling undone in both writing and personal life, I scoured kindle reads for a free book or novella. I struggle to find great adult dragon books and this series was the first in awhile that looked promising. I also needed to escape this world for an hour or two, and holy crap did Lindsay Buroker deliver. Right away I dove into the first book in the series and fell in love with both main characters. Buroker brings together the perfect blend of adult situations, action, emotion, world-building and sensuality. At the time of writing this review, I’ve only read the first in the Dragon Blood series, and can’t wait to read more.

This review may contain spoilers.

Balanced on the Blade’s Edge (Dragon Blood #1)

Colonel Ridge Zirkander isn’t the model of military professionalism – he has a tendency to say exactly what’s on his mind, and his record has enough demerits to wallpaper the hull of an airship – but as the best fighter pilot in the Iskandian army, he’s used to a little leniency from his superiors. Until he punches the wrong diplomat in the nose and finds himself issued new orders: take command of a remote prison mine in the inhospitable Ice Blades Mountains. Ridge has never been in charge of anything larger than a flier squadron — what’s he supposed to do with a frozen fortress full of murderers and rapists? Not to mention the strange woman who shows up right before he arrives…
Sardelle Terushan wakes from three hundred years in a mage stasis shelter, only to realize that she is the last of the Referatu, the sorcerers who once helped protect Iskandia from conquerors. Their subterranean mountain community was blown up in a treacherous sneak attack by soldiers who feared their power. Everyone Sardelle ever knew is dead, and the sentient soulblade she has been bonded to since her youth is buried in the core of the mountain. Further, what remains of her home has been infested by bloodthirsty miners commanded by the descendants of the very soldiers who destroyed her people.

Sardelle needs help to reach her soulblade — her only link to her past and her last friend in the world. Her only hope is to pretend she’s one of the prisoners while trying to gain the commander’s trust. But lying isn’t her specialty, especially when the world has changed so much in the intervening centuries, and if Colonel Zirkander figures out who she truly is, he’ll be duty-bound to sentence her to the only acceptable punishment for sorcerers: death.

    

What I loved:

Ridgewalker is my new book boyfriend. There, I said it. Everyone else can go home now. Ridge leapt off the page and grabbed me by the throat. He’s the perfect blend of middle age stubbornness, youthful sass, and determined fanatic. Every movement and line of dialogue bled out his hardened personality so well that there was no doubt he was a stunning hero that walks the dark and the light to get shit done.

Sardelle was an amazing female character, a perfect blend of smarts, determination and sass. I find many book females come off either fluffy and eyelash batty or so strong they’re almost aggressive. This woman has such a light touch and yet brings a depth of complexity, especially during her conversations with soulblade Jaxi.

The side characters were perfect. Each one had a strong personality that made them unique. The interactions were fantastic, and the world building and pacing were stellar. I was always grounded and never bored. Everything about this story kept me putting aside real life to get back to the Ice Blades and find out what happens next.

Areas needing a touch of refinement:

The finale for Sardelle against the other sorcerer. All of this absolutely gorgeous tension was built all the way to the end, then boom, maybe two vague lines to the effect ‘oh yeah, here’s how it ended.’ I really wanted this bit to draw out for another page or two, gimme the action happening, the blood spilling, the shocked look in his eyes, maybe a vague word from the sorcerer about where she could find the others. But definitely it needed a lot more pizazz.

General Nax’s finale. This character came on so strong right away that his power bled into everything. But at the end, he was only given a line or two of ‘oh yeah, this happened.’ I would have loved to see a lot more done with this character.

Overall:

Holy crap did this book deliver. It packed such a punch that it will always have a permanent place on my bookshelf. I can’t wait to dive into the next two books in the series.

If I had to wish for one thing out of this story though, it would be to make it longer. To spend more time on Nax and Vespa, Tace and Rolff, and all the beautiful characters so we can see every arc play out to the finale.


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