- File Size: 4245 KB
- Print Length: 300 pages
- Publisher: Shattered Soul Books (December 28, 2018)
- Publication Date: December 28, 2018
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07M869WGZ
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,303,530 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Sweetblade Kindle Edition
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Ivana, one of the main characters of Banebringer, begins that novel as a cold-hearted assassin called Sweetblade. She's thrown into a "frenemies" situation with a man named Vaughn and over the course of that book, her cold facade cracks.
Sweetblade is about how she became that cold killer in the first place. And trust me, there is *no* romance in this book.
That's why I thought it was helpful to know where Ivana was going to land eventually. Having that glimmer of hope to hold onto (and I am very eagerly awaiting Book 2 in that series!) was something I really needed as I watched the story drive Ivana relentlessly on, ever further over the edge. There were several moments (well, two VERY BIG moments) when I really, really, REALLY hoped that things would be different... but, to be honest, if Carol Park had flinched and tried to make the story less bleak, it would have felt like cheating. Like she had taken the easy way out.
Carol Park didn't cheat in this book. She deals with some really dark, difficult issues, including self-harm, and she goes all the way there. This book isn't grimdark the way I think most people think of it, but it is grim and dark; it deals with many of the things fantasy writers like to sweep under the rug, like what happens to the women and the children when the nobles who father the bastards leave? How are they supposed to cope? To survive, in a world where they've been cast off?
You have to be prepared for that when you go into the book, I think, and that's why I was happy to have read Banebringer first.
As far as the writing goes, it's smooth and fast. It draws you into the story and then doesn't let go. The only quibble I had was that the last part felt just a little disconnected from the rest of the book. Not that it wasn't foreshadowed, because it was, but it seemed almost as if it had begun life as its own novella that was then attached to the end of the book. But that's a teeny-tiny little quibble, and hardly anything to notice.
If you like character-driven stories, assassins, and stories that don't shy away from difficult issues -- particularly women's issues -- then I highly recommend giving Sweetblade a try.
I read Park’s debut, Banebringer, the first book in The Heretic Gods series and thought it was a story based in a well-constructed world, with a unique system of blood magic in place and memorable characters, both in terms of likable protagonists and dastardly villains. Ivana was one of the two protagonists, her past shrouded in mystery – and now, in this prequel novel, the shroud is finally lifted.
Sweetblade barely touches on the magic, nor does it give the reader too much insight into the politics of the wider world of The Heretic Gods; what it does is tell a personal story and tell it well. Ivana’s transformation into the skilled assassin and spy I knew from Banebringer isn’t sudden – the young girl we meet freezing in an alley in the first chapter of this novel takes years to harden her heart to the point she begins to resemble the Ivana I’m familiar with in Carol’s debut.
It’s difficult to speak of growth in a character whose want in the majority of this novel is to forsake much of what makes her human – inuring yourself to most emotions isn’t my personal idea of personal growth-- but it makes for one hell of a compelling character arc. A portion of the book is told through flashbacks that reveal how Ivana, one of two children of educated middle-class parents, ended up alone on the streets of a city far from the one she was born in. Some of these chapters were painful to read not because they were written badly or anything of the sort but because seeing Ivana so young and naïve about the ways of the world, seeing her make all the wrong choices and get trampled in the ground by the cruelties of the world, it’s all damn near heart-breaking.
Whether fate smiles on her or not is questionable but close to freezing, Ivana crosses paths with a mysterious benefactor by the name of Elidor. Little does she know when she takes his offer of food and warmth, Elidor is an assassin of unrivaled skill, interested in Ivana for reasons of his own. During her stay at Elidor’s, Ivana builds a bond with an apprentice pharmacist by the name of Boden, whose relationship with Ivana fluctuates from cute to deeply tragic.
This isn’t a doorstopper of a book. At a modest ninety thousand words, reading through it in one or two sittings is no great challenge. Especially when the prose is this good, when it flows with such ease, you’ll find yourself reluctant to put it down. I know I did, having read it in three hours over two sittings. Sweetblade deserves commendation for that alone!
My score for Sweetblade is a resounding 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads – buy it, read it, enjoy it. If you like tragic backstories of assassins that delve into the darker side of humanity, you’ll love it. Even if you don’t, odds are you’ll have a grand old time.
You should read Sweetblade if:
*You enjoy novels focused on a single character’s development;
*You like assassins as much as the next fantasy nerd;
*You’re looking for a fun, enjoyable read with a memorable lead or want to dig into Banebringers with gusto;
*Sociopaths. Loads and loads of sociopaths. Okay, at least two of them;
*And More! Prob’ly.