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.
I have a soft spot for Tricia Levenseller books, so I was ready to read whatever her new one was going to be. She has a way of writing that makes it so easy to fly through her books. They don’t take themselves too seriously, so they feel light, fluffy, and the good kind of cheesy. So, a Tricia Levenseller book about a blacksmith with social anxiety sounded like it would be right up my alley. Like, I love swords. And the MC MAKES magic swords? Yes, I was very, very eager to read this one. Trigger warnings: minor self-harm, anxiety
Yes, I still very much have a soft spot for Tricia Levenseller. This book was so good.
I guess I’ll start off with the big thing: the anxiety rep. It’s more specifically social anxiety, but every single facet of it was something that I just got. I got the need to feel safe and comfortable, of your thought spiraling and coming up with worst case scenarios, of having your skin crawl when faced with certain social interactions. I got needing time alone to recharge, of caving to be somewhere safe and alone. I got how Ziva felt fine one second, and then incredibly anxious the next, since I have had that exact experience. Sometimes the feeling of being done just creeps up on me. I got how Ziva hates how she feels sometimes, how she wishes social interaction wasn’t so hard all the time. I got how she felt like she was being so awkward all the time, even though she logically knew that wasn’t the case. There was just so much about her character that I understood.
One of the best things about this book, is that this anxiety rep takes place in a fantasy book. There’s sword fighting and roadtrips to escape a warlord and magic. Ziva interacts with her world like an anxious person would, but her world is a fantasy world. I know those seem like such obvious statements, it’s a bit hard to explain. Ziva is allowed to exist in this fantasy world. Her anxiety is allowed to exist in this fantasy world. This book had everything I love about fantasy books, and it also had something that I deal with. It had a character interact with a type of world I love so much like I would interact with it. I know my explanation is rough, but I think it’s worth saying haha.
Alright, moving on to characters. It is obvious that I love Ziva, but I loved every single other character too. Temra was feisty and not what I expected at all. She’s strong and she’s brave and she’s fully capable of handling herself. Plus, the sister relationship between her and Ziva was top notch. Petrick is awkward, and just wants to study magic and write his book. Though, he does have some snark in him. Kellyn is a mercenary and definitely knows his way around a sword. He has snark in spades, but he’s actually very sweet, and a really solid dude.
Romantic relationships! Ah, I loved these so much. The side one, the smaller one, is still one that I was completely invested in. And then the main romantic relationship, oh I swooned so much. It’s sweet and it’s adorable and it’s understanding and it’s caring. It has it’s bumps, but the snark that comes out of those bumps is amazing. And the kissing scenes were wonderfully fantastic, which I feel is very important to mention haha.
I feel like I can’t do this review without mentioning the swords and the blacksmithing. Though I don’t think I could handle the heat of that trade, I still think it is so, so fascinating. So it was so awesome for a character to be able to make magic swords! It was so cool how the magic worked and how Ziva was able to make these magic items.
Plus, the whole overarching plot was amazing. It’s basically a roadtrip to escape an evil warlord. There’s snark and banter along the way, with plenty of sword fights and almost captures along the way!
And it’s made all the better by Levenseller’s writing. Her light and fluffy writing just works for this book. It gives everything a sweet undertone, which doesn’t seem like it would bode well for a fantasy book, but it just does here.
So, I really, really loved this book. It was everything I loved about Tricia Levenseller books with so much more. The social anxiety rep, the sister relationship, the romantic relationships that made me want to melt, magic swords, snark, and a good amount of humor just made this book incredible.