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Black Blade Blues    by J. A. Pitts order for
Black Blade Blues
by J. A. Pitts
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, Softcover
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

J. A. Pitts' urban fantasy Black Blade Blues stars modern day blacksmith Sarah Beauhall, who's apprenticed to blacksmith master Julie Hendrickson. Sarah works nights as a low budget movie props manager and, though still uncomfortable with coming out as gay, spends as much time as she can with her lover, Katie, a bardic singer. They are both members of the Black Briar clan (led by Katie's brother Jimmy and affiliated with the Society for Creative Anachronism) where Sarah's black belt in tae kwon do comes in handy.

Sarah has provided a sword purchased at an estate sale for use in the filmmaking. When the blade is broken, she reforges it with the aid of Rolph Brokkrson, who plays a goblin in the movie. Rolph calls the sword Fafnir's Bane and claims to be a dwarf. He wants Sarah to use the sword, Gram, to slay dragons masquerading as investment bankers. Readers learn that Nidhogg the Corpse Gnawer is the 'most ancient of dragonkind.' Serving her is Qindra, a witch with conflicting motivations.

Another dragon, uber-wealthy Frederick Sawyer likes to be worshipped but treats his chattels well. He wants the sword and buys his way into the movie where Sarah works. Jean-Paul, on the other hand is a dragon who has long preyed on humankind - he 'used drugs and vice - fear and addiction.' Jean-Paul wants the sword too. He goes after it by kidnapping people close to Sarah. She muses on the kind of world she lives in, unknowingly ruled by dragonkind - 'Like War of the Worlds, only everyone slept through the war.'

While all this develops, Sarah is affected by proximity to the sword. It influences her behavior, damaging her relationships to friends, her boss, and to Katie. Runes begin to appear on her body. This episode ends in a major battle between the Black Briar clan and Jean-Paul's forces, which include giants and trolls. Casualties are heavy on both sides. When it's all over, Sarah dreams of an old, one-eyed man who exhorts her to 'Find the golden apple. Raise the Aesir. Save the horn blower, call the fallen from their resting place.'

Which makes it clear that there is lots more to come in this entertaining new urban fantasy series, starring a strong yet vulnerable heroine and steeped in Norse mythology. I look forward to it.

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