Blade of Secrets / Tricia Levenseller / Book Review


Ziva prefers metal to people. She is renowned in the land for the blades she makes, blades infused with the magic her mother passed on to her. More and more strangers from across the land come in search of Ziva's blades, but her young sister and business partner Temra keeps them at a distance--which is a good thing. Ziva can't breathe when strangers are around.

When a warlord comes seeking out her services, however, Ziva can barely refuse--and she doesn't really want to. She will get the bounty of a lifetime for the blade she makes, and she puts all of her energy into one final creation: a blade that steals the victim's secrets.

When Ziva learns that the warlord plans to use this blade to make a country of slaves, however, Ziva steals the sword. Along with her sister, a mercenary, and a traveling scholar, she flees for her life, the fate of the country in the balance.



Panic Panic attacks get to little representation on the page or in any other entertainment medium. It is always nice to see this represented, and it is especially nice in the realm of high fantasy--and with a character who is highly competent. Ziva is talented and self-assured and strong--and she also suffers from social anxiety that can overwhelm her. That's good representation right there.

Equal-Opportunity Warlords When so much of "traditional" fantasy is steeped in traditional values--men in roles of real power and women relegated to lesser roles, even when they might be cunning--it is nice to be immersed in a fantasy world with female blacksmiths and female warlords right alongside the men. And it is nice to have women in other roles--like the role of grandmother or mother--that may be traditional but are no less important than the grand, "male" roles we glorify. Gay couples also hold positions of power in this world, so it seems that almost everybody has a chance.

Another Adventure Tale I said it before with All the Stars and Teeth, but there seems to be a dearth of adventure fantasy for a YA audience, especially adventure fantasy with a female lead. It is great to see another one of these high-fantasy adventures hit the shelves, though this one isn't pirates and open seas. Still, there are plenty of swords, lots of horses and trekking, and all kinds of fun fantasy stops along the way.


This book falls into one of the common traps of adventure-type fantasy. That is, it is a quest. The plot is simple and straightforward with clear and delineated parts. It is easy to follow. It is easy to read. Many won't have a problem with this simplicity, but those who enjoy epic-type fantasy with more complex, twisty-turvy plots may be disappointed with the one-track trajectory of this plotline. There are no sneaky subplots, and only a few vaguely romantic underpinnings to bolster up the main plot. It is well executed, certainly, but ultimately simple at its core. Simple Plot

"Sufficient" is not necessarily a bad thing. I mean, it works. However, the worldbuilding here is not extensive. The little details are sometimes the most important parts, especially for fans of fantasy. While I wasn't left questioning the world in the context of the story--there were no glaring gaps, that is--some of the fantasy fun was missing without a deep dive into the depths of this new fantasy world. This was just one genre element that was underutilized at the end of the day. Sufficient Worldbuilding

Ziva experiences strong social anxiety at the beginning of the book (enough to induce panic attacks), but that same anxiety doesn't always follow with her. In fact, it seems to come up most when it is convenient to the plot. When Ziva and her sister have to run for their lives and face strangers more often, her anxiety doesn't play as much of a significant role... Though I love that this representation was included, I wish it had been included consistently and not just when most plot-relevant. Forgotten Drawbacks



Anyone who enjoyed the down-to-earth characters and real-world problems of Adam Silvera's Infinity Son should check out this new, grounded fantasy. Those who like a traditional type of adventure-fantasy with a female lead like Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword should take a look at Ziva's brand of high-stakes quest.


Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Date: May 4, 2021
Series: Bladesmith
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


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