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Forged in Fire    by J. A. Pitts order for
Forged in Fire
by J. A. Pitts
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2012 (2012)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Forged in Fire follows Black Blade Blues and Honeyed Words as the third in J. A. Pitts' action-packed urban fantasy series, steeped in Norse mythology and starring modern day gay blacksmith Sarah Beauhall, who has a black belt in tae kwon do. Sarah's lover is 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.

In the first episode in this world unknowingly ruled by dragonkind, Sarah reforged a dragon-slaying sword, Gram, with the aid of dwarf Rolph Brokkrson. A dragon, Jean-Paul, who had long preyed on humankind, wanted the sword and went after those close to Sarah. The episode ended on a dreadful battle between the Black Briar clan and Jean-Paul's forces, casualties heavy on both sides. When it was over, Sarah dreamed of an old, one-eyed man, a 'half-crazed homeless guy who either was Odin or channeled him on a regular basis.' Somehow I missed Honeyed Words and do recommend that you read the episodes in order, as I missed some references to that adventure in this third one.

Readers met two other dragons in previous episodes - ancient Nidhogg the Corpse Gnawer, served by witch Qindra; and the uber-wealthy Frederick Sawyer. They play major roles in Forged in Fire. Indeed, after Honeyed Words, Sarah feels indebted to Qindra, and so takes on a task for Nidhogg, to build her a gate. She takes on the responsibilty for troll infants. She also must foil the nefarious plans of Jean-Paul's necromancer, Justin, who infiltrates the Black Briar clan, through a vulnerable member and also targets people close to Sarah (who killed his master). While all this is going on, Sarah learns that her estranged family needs her help, in particular her younger sister Megan.

As always, the plotline builds to a crescendo of a battle, involving both humans and monsters - this time, with dragon against dragon. Forged in Fire is another exceptional adventure for Sarah Beauhall and her growing train of friends and associates - to which was added in this episode responsibility not only for troll infants but also for a small, mute girl, Jai Li - part of the family she and Katie chose. It's a great series, well worth following!

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