- Series: Sarah Jane Beauhall (Book 1)
- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (April 27, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765324679
- ISBN-13: 978-0765324672
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.4 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 63 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,590,890 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Black Blade Blues (Sarah Jane Beauhall) Hardcover – April 27, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Pitts brings Norse mythology into the modern world in this amusing debut. Blacksmith, props master, and semicloseted ex-Christian lesbian Sarah Beauhall is struggling to master her craft, push aside her self-loathing, and make time for her girlfriend. Unfortunately for Sarah, not only is her favorite sword actually Gram, the fabled blade that once slew the dragon Fafnir, but an affably evil shape-shifting dragon and the semisenile Corpse Gnawer are coming to take it from her. Sarah soon finds her romantic life in shambles and her jobs under siege as she struggles to comprehend the responsibility that she has been handed. The final battle is twice as long as it should be and some of the coincidences are painfully contrived, but there's enough entertainment and romantic tension to keep readers interested in the planned sequels. (Apr.)
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“Pitts combines Norse mythology, smith-lore and a deep love of the Pacific Northwest in this fast-paced urban fantasy about dragons posing as investment bankers, Hummer-driving giants, and the woman who must defeat them while fighting her own demons of doubt and self-identity. A fresh look at some classic themes, Black Blade Blues will delight readers seeking the thrill of fantasy amid the everyday reality of overdue bills, bad traffic, and ancient plots to overthrow the order of the world.” ―Jay Lake, author of Escapement
“Pitts is an exciting new voice on the fantasy scene. Black Blade Blues takes the reader on a rollicking adventure full of pathos and humor. It's a sweet combination of classic fantasy and today's complex urban world. Be sure to read this exhilarating debut novel.” ―Brenda Cooper, award-winning author of The Silver Ship and the Sea and Reading the Wind
“Sarah Beauhall is half girl, half warrior, and all attitude. She's a skilled blacksmith who discovers a sword of great power, and finds herself in a battle against an ancient dragon, with dwarves and giants and trolls on every side, fighting to preserve her very way of life. In the midst of everything, and against the mystical backdrop that is today's Pacific Northwest, Sarah's finding out just what that way of life is meant to be--and she's not sure it suits her. Black Blade Blues is a fast-moving, action-packed story, one to please all readers of urban fantasy.” ―Louise Marley, author of The Singers of Nevya--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top customer reviews
I really wanted to read Black Blade Blues after I learned that it's about a female blacksmith who is also a lesbian, but I was dying to read it when I learned that the author, J. A. Pitts, is a man. I wanted to know, could he pull this off?
The answer is yes.
Furthermore, Mr. Pitts gave himself a considerable challenge because Sarah is not a strong, confident gay woman, like I assumed she'd be. Oh no. She's absolutely conflicted about her lifestyle, she's haunted by her strict religious upbringing, and she can barely stand to acknowledge her relationship with Katie. Sarah has practically barricaded herself in the closet, and watching her break out will be one of the things I look forward to most in this new series.
One of the great things about this story is that Mr. Pitts was not afraid to build a large ensemble cast, and then go beyond the cursory sketches and flesh each character out. There are so many strong female characters in this story! I have to get a little excited about this, because most urban fantasies shine the spotlight on one woman, and the other females are usually criminals, hookers, or victims. Sarah shares the stage with Katie, her girlfriend, Julie, her blacksmith mentor, Melanie, an E.R. doctor, and Jennifer, one of her bosses from the movie production. I could list a few more, but these were the ladies who stood out in my mind after I closed the book.
I wish it had been more of a page-turner. I read this one over a three day period, and while it was always a pleasure to come back to, I didn't feel that junkie craving that tells me I love it, need it, want it more than anything else. At times, the pace was too slow, but I'm almost loathe to make that criticism because the details were so lush. I liked seeing Sarah during some utterly mundane parts of the day, like when she went jogging, but it did slow the story down.
To grab my attention these days, an urban fantasy has to bring something fresh and new to the experience, and Black Blade Blues succeeds. Sarah's character is a work of art, but the folklore surrounding the sword and the dragons is going to dive into some good stuff down the road. I can just tell. The dragons have the world divvied up like a bunch of mafia bosses, and they pull the strings behind the scenes. Humans are nothing more than cattle in their eyes, and Sarah's bond with the black sword is the first real threat they've faced in eons.
The good news is that Mr. Pitts has a deal for two more Sarah Beauhall novels with Tor, and we can look for Honeyed Words in the Spring of 2011, and Hearth and Home in 2012.
What more could you want in a main character? A skilled female blacksmith, a member of the Society for Creative Anachronisms, and she wears Doc Martens. Along with a great main character there is a great story in BLACK BLADE BLUES filled with Norse mythology, dragons, and ancient swords reforged.
I love the characters in BLACK BLADE BLUES. I already mentioned a lot of the awesome things about Sarah, but what I love the most about her is how flawed she is. It’s always fun to see a character start out kicking butt and taking names, but it’s even better to see a character struggle and develop before she starts taking out the bad guys. All that being said, Sarah has a lot of issues to work through and a lot of this book is spent in developing her character. The action doesn’t really pick up until the last quarter of the book.
Once the action does get going it’s almost non-stop. J.A. Pitts writes amazing, detailed battle scenes. I also found them to be refreshingly realistic. Most of the characters in BLACK BLADE BLUES are only just finding out about monsters, so even though they’re part of the SCA they aren’t battle hardened fighters. This means that quite a few people die in the final battle scene. It’s always painful to see characters die, but at the same time I’ve gotten tired of the super human monster hunters that rarely make fatal mistakes.
So this was my first time listening to this book, but I’ve read the series before. One of the things I look for in a five bat book is a story that only gets better with each reread. BLACK BLADE BLUES definitely fits that criteria. Even though I knew just how it was going to turn out, I still cringed at Sarah’s poor decisions, enjoyed the happy moments, while dreading the awful moments ahead. Black Blade Blues is an amazing start to one of my favorite series.
Notes on Audiobook: J.A. Pitts tells BLACK BLADE BLUES through the first person perspective of Sarah, but there are a handful of chapters that are told from the third person perspective of some of Sarah’s friends. I didn’t have a problem following the transitions in the print version, but it did throw me off a couple of times during the audiobook. I don’t think that’s the fault of the narrator just part of J.A. Pitts writing style. Erin Bennet did a great job of bringing the characters to life through her wide vocal range and narrated BLACK BLADE BLUES amazingly.
Then I read more of the story and realized it was more about the woman vs her own insecurities and trying to adjust to her lifestyle. It took me out of the world quite a bit and I admit, I put this book down a couple of times to read something else. The fantasy portions is really well done, there is a good narrative and I enjoyed the action pieces.
But the main character has some severe issues she is dealing with and the people all around her are incredibly selfish and stupid. No one acts like a person should, with any kind of understanding, but with immediate wants. the main characters significant other spends half the book lying to the main character and no one seems to care that she is hiding this giant secrets, at least, that is how I felt.
The series is cool enough that I'll continue to the other books. I hope it is less introspective discovery. A character can and should have flaws, but this felt like two different books and I couldn't enjoy myself as much as I wanted.