Sunday, October 18, 2009

Burn Me Deadly - Alex Bledsoe

There's always the question of whether the sequel will live up to the original, especially when the first is as powerful as the Sword-Edged Blonde was, but I have to say that I was not disappointed at all with Burn Me Deadly. Fair warning, there are going to be some spoilers in this review.

Burn Me Deadly does have a change of flavor from the original, in that it is what I'd call a setting book. In the Sword-Edged Blonde, Eddie traveled far and wide to uncover mysteries, now we explore his home base and the area surrounding Neceda. Something that Bledsoe does quite well is interweave the stories of the people that in other books might fade into the background, or be conveniently pushed offstage when the plot doesn't need them anymore. Such as the wandering scribe who is most definitely on his own mission, the anti-government survivalist family, or even the guardsman that threatens to move in with Eddie and Liz if he gets fired. Little details like that turn this into a living world, admittedly one that's situated in the backwoods and lonely hills. Ones inhabited by a dragon cult that is at once exotic and rural, more evocative of serpent handlers in a backwoods church than of the bloodthirsty fanatics usually encountered in fantasy worlds.

Now there were a few moments that brought me out of the fantasy. One of them being a trick sword in a scene that reminded me of the movie Blade. Now it was nice to learn a bit more about the swords now that we know that them having make and brand names isn't just a one off joke, but the "special grip so it doesn't slice your hand open" gimmick was a bit much. This was a relatively minor problem though as anachronistic elements were tossed in every now and again, mostly for comedic effect, so it wasn't glaring.

The real gem of this story was in learning about the characters and relationships between them. Eddie and Liz's relationship have a very real and mature feeling to it, of people who genuinely care about each other, and aren't the young starcrossed lovers you usually see in fantasy.

While the body count has gone down, it still retains that deadly edge which keeps you on your seat. Good people(and horses) die, and not all of them die in epic battle, there isn't that aura of invincibility that usually surrounds well liked characters, which I think is necessary if a rather gritty fantasy like this. Anyways, Burn Me Deadly by Alex Bledsoe proved to be another great read, it has a stronger emphasis on setting than its predecessor, but proves to be every bit as entertaining.
(Note: This review was on the ARC copy, as such there may have been changes between it and the print version)

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