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WesternSFA
Honeyed Words
by J.A. Pitts
Tor/Tom Doherty, $25.99, 412pp
Release Date: May 22, 2012
This is the second novel in a series about a female blacksmith, Sarah, who, while trying to figure out her personal relationship with her girlfriend, Katie, also has to figure out why she seems to have an ancient sword forged to kill dragons.

After the horrible battle with dragons, trolls and assorted other monstrosities, many of Sarah’s surviving friends in the SCA have a lot of healing to do. And with the weight of guilt on her back, Sarah keeps her distance. She’s also moving in with her girlfriend, leaving her apartment to her former boss who lost her livelihood in the battle.

Sarah is also having conflicting opinions about dragons after finally meeting the oldest one, Nidhogg. So far she’s met three: one was the psychopathic killer in Portland , one is an investment banker from Seattle who is also a philanthropist, and then there’s Nidhogg who appears to be someone’s kindly grandmother with a bit of insanity mixed in. She refuses to pick up her sword, preferring to leave in the care of the SCA; killing dragons is still not something she wants to get used to.

While out one night at a club, the lead singer gets snatched by a couple of thugs who could actually kick Sarah’s ass. Turns out, a bunch of dwarves, who had been in thrall to the recently dead dragon, are trying to turn a buck by concocting a nasty little potion using the singer’s blood, and are putting it up for bid to four dragons. The potion gives more power to the owner. Sarah, with the help of a couple elf kids, tries to find the missing singer and stop the auction.

And, with her boss laid up and the smithy destroyed, Sarah signs on with another professional smith, Anezka, to work on her apprenticeship. What she finds there fills most of this story. Anezka is going insane, has a twisted relationship with a forge demon, and her home is becoming ‘spook central,’ to quote our favorite ghost buster.

The central story is about Anezka, supporting it is the missing singer and the blood mead auction. There are also a few chapters of the SCA people discussing certain artifacts that don’t lend anything to the novel. The book just feels a bit unbalanced. The opening chapter has little to do with the rest of the novel. The second chapter has the singer being kidnapped which gives the reader the idea that this is the main story and it is not. There is another climatic battle near the end that draws together the Anezka story and the missing singer but doesn’t resolve the blood mead story. I guess that’s for the next book. There’s also a loose end in that there’s this mad necromancer running around who’s responsible for Anezka’s madness and the badness happening in her home. You’ll have to see that resolved in the third book.

The characterizations were better in this book but still on the shallow side for supporting characters. Over all, this book was not really well-plotted. But I’m taken with the protagonist and I’m hoping the author pulls all the loose threads together in the next book. I’ll be watching… ~~ Catherine Book

Book 1 Black Blade Blues
Book 2 Honeyed Words

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