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.
This is the first book in the Dragon Blood series. I loved it!
Colonel Ridge Zirkander is a wonderful character. I really liked him. In fact, I have a bit of a book boyfriend crush on him. I love his irreverence and dry wit. It reminds me of the way Richard Dean Anderson portrays Jack O'Neill in Stargate SG1. He is one of the best pilots in the Iskandian army. He is charming, though irreverent, and his flying skills are in great demand, but due to an event that sees him punching a diplomat he has been given new orders and sent to prison mine in the Ice Blade mountains as the new commander. The mine contains crystals that power their dragon fliers - planes that are designed to look like the dragons that once lived millennia ago. When he arrives at the mine, he is confronted by an unusual sight - a woman wearing a summer dress in the middle of winter.
Sardelle Terushan is also a wonderful character. I liked her a lot. She is a sorceress and a healer. When her home, where the Referatu lived came under attack, she found refuge in a mage stasis chamber. There she stayed until she woke three hundred years later, when she was found by a couple of miners. Determined to locate her soulblade, Jaxi, but struggling to come to terms with the amount of time that's passed, she finds herself confronted by the challenge of hiding her powers in a world that detests magic users, and her attraction to the new mine commander.
This story is a mix of steampunk and fantasy. I started to read and didn't put it down until I finished it. I found myself completely hooked from the first page. I love the world-building the author has done to bring this book to life. I also love Jaxi, Sardelle's soulblade. She is a young sorceress who died due to illness, but before dying, her soul was magically placed within a sword. Soulblades bond with their handlers until their handlers die; guide or assist them when needed, then either bond to a new handler or allow themselves to die when they no longer wish to serve. Jaxi is six hundred years old, but because she died young she has a decidedly teen outlook at times, with sarcasm being one of her tools, as well as an irreverence for a person's privacy. I love her witty banter, some of it had me giggling.
Iskandia is at war with Cofahre, a rival nation that is determined to take over Iskandia. The Cofah use dirigible type balloons to fly over the ocean, thus the steampunk feel to the story. The Iskandian pilots fly planes that are shaped like dragons but remind me of the old-fashioned planes from the early 1900s - lightweight - though with a mix of propeller and thrusters which reminds me of the Harrier jets that use something similar sans the propeller. The author has mixed these two to create something unique. As the story progressed, I found myself looking forward to seeing how it all played out.
Ridge and Sardelle make a wonderful couple and their chemistry is instantaneous. I love how the author wove their love story together with action filled sections that kept me on the edge of my seat. The magical owl is uber scary! There are a couple of scenes between these two that are a little steamy but not explicit. I must admit that I felt a little sorry for Ridge at times, as he gets two for the price of one in this relationship, but he seems to take things in his stride. I reached the end of the book and immediately went and purchased as many books in the series I could, as well as pre-ordered the next book in the series which was due to be released. I can't wait to read the next book in the series, Deathmaker, as soon as I can.
Lindsay Buroker is a new author to me. I love her fast paced writing style, and the flow is wonderful too. I haven't read any of her other books before, however, she has found a fan in me. I am looking forward to reading her other book series as soon as I can.
Due to scenes of a sexual nature (though not explicit) and some violence, I do not recommend this book to younger readers. However, I highly recommend this book (and series) if you love steampunk, paranormal romance, low fantasy and epic fantasy genres. - Lynn Worton