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REVIEW: Blade’s Edge by Val Roberts

Dear Ms. Roberts:

1201I am trying to climb onto the futuristic bandwagon so I was excited when I saw this book released from Samhain this week. While the story had potential and I found it readable, I ultimately came away disappointed.

Blademir, the Crown Heir to the throne of Barian, was sent on a diplomatic mission to Zona, a matriarchal society that had closed itself off to the rest of the planet. Zona grew out of a pleasure slave to Barin (how she grew to have her own culture I never really understood). Zona refused to advance technologically causing people living in its outer sphere to conduct raids into Barian land. Blade has been sent to Zona to convince the Matriarch that a little cooperation and trade could increase the standard of living for all Zonans.

Taryn Penthes is a Zonan Silvergard Commander. The Silvergard are the elite fighting squad charged with defending the Zonan. She is to escort the Bariani diplomatic team to the Lady Palace. The team gets ambushed and two members of the diplomatic team are killed and so is the Crown Prince’s Prime. Taryn recognizes she only has a few options. She must first spirit the remaining Bariani to the Jags, a rugged part of Bariani that borders Zona and she must make herself disappear. Once it comes out that she has killed the Crown Prince’s Prime, the only thing she will face in Zona is an execution squad.

Taryn Penthes is actually the twin sister of Talyn Penthes, the Crown Prince. Talyn was announced the heir presumptive at birth and to ensure her crown, Talyn attacked Taryn when they were 16 leading to a knife scar on Taryn’s face. Taryn left her family home and entered the Silvergard.

Blade was supposedly an intentionally dumb hero but this was one of the biggest plot disappointments of the book. Much can be down with the faux slow hero and yet here it’s just told to us in a series of accounts by Blade’s siblings to their father about how brilliant Blade really is.

The plot and character development was dropped down like a hammer. The Matriarch of Zona didn’t want her daughter, Taryn, to fall into the hands or be seduced by a Bariani for fear she would become a pleasure slave. Blade’s father, ruling of Bariana, didn’t want his son to fall in love with Taryn because Blade’s mother had been a Zonan woman who abandoned the family once it was revealed that Blade’s father was to be the next ruler.

Taryn’s friend Leone, and others however, saw that Taryn and Blade mating would unite the two countries and be beneficial to the planet becoming part of the Dozen Worlds.

The world building by contrast was doled out in drips and drabs. I would have much preferred an info dump and more delicacy given to the treatment of the plot and character development. For example, I am still stumped by the fact that the heir apparent in a Matriarchal culture was known as the Crown Prince particularly when you had a Lady Palace, the Temple of the Serene Mother and the ruler called the Matriarch. I was further confused about exactly what type of planet this is when at one moment Taryn is in a medical scanning tube that can tell that she has a low grade infection and 48 hours until her ovulation, but she’s given hydrocodone for pain. I never got the full story about how Zonan, an offshoot of Barian, came about. The Matriarchy was supposed to be descended from an Bariana pleasure slave but I missed how a pleasure slave could have escaped, claimed and held land long enough to create a parallel and competing society.

The sex scenes made me wonder exactly what I was being told. The first sex scene features the twin, the ostensible villain, having sex after being intentionally drugged. Just because she likes it afterward, doesn’t make it any less of a rape at the time. The scene seems clearly written to indicate that the drugs were overcoming any negation. The very next scene after this, not the very next sex scene, was the heroine having sex with the hero after getting totally blotto on a half a bottle of liquor.

What am I being told with the juxtaposition of those scenes? That sex under the influence isn’t just for villains anymore?

I think the philosophical underpinning of the story was two fold. First, together a man and a woman are stronger than separate. Zona and Barian represented two cultures and countries that, when united, presented a formidable force but apart could not enter the Dozen Worlds. Both cultures harbored misunderstandings and mis perceptions about the other leading to long estrangement which harmed both their people on a macro level and on a more personal level, both the children of the rulers of Zona and Barian were affected adversely.

The second philosophical push of the story was that men are always under the influence of women. One character says “Men marry their mothers” and this theme was reinforced by later actions. In this, I thought perhaps I was being told that no matter the political system, women always held some amount of power over men, particularly in the form of influence.

The book turned a great deal for the better in the second half as Blade comes to recognize that the very caveman like tendencies he wanted to exert would only feed the preconceptions that Zonan women, like Taryn, had of Barian and its culture.

Ultimately, I would like to read more in this world and by you but I hope to have fewer regrets with my next book. There were great ideas in this story. C

Best regards,

Jane

This book can be purchased at Books on Board in ebook format or other etailers.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

13 Comments

  1. Kalen Hughes
    Sep 17, 2009 @ 15:38:51

    You lost me at “Blademir” . . .

    ReplyReply

  2. DS
    Sep 17, 2009 @ 16:13:43

    Ah, Blade is also Blademir. But I’m kind of lost at the Zona part. Zona is both a culture and an individual? So what is the Crown Prince’s Prime? And did the book explain why a male was sent as an ambassador to a matriarchal government? Elizabeth Bear has a book where this happens but the male ambassador is gay which is acceptable to the matriarchy.

    I like books dealing with issues of nations coming to terms with cultural differences, but this doesn’t sound like anything I haven’t run into half a dozen times. The only real difference seems to be that the members of the matriarchal society are not healers.

    ReplyReply

  3. ReacherFan
    Sep 17, 2009 @ 17:04:48

    I gave Blade’s Edge the same grade last week. :-)

    And yes, DS, it did address the implied insult to the Matriarchy by sending all men.

    ReplyReply

  4. Heather Massey
    Sep 17, 2009 @ 19:46:33

    Thanks again for reviewing a futuristic–and in such detail, too!

    Haven’t read this one, but I must say I find the cover very refreshing, the Sarah Michelle Gellar resemblance notwithstanding…. At any rate, I hope covers like this one (for futuristic romance ebooks) is a trend that continues.

    ReplyReply

  5. Jane
    Sep 17, 2009 @ 21:30:27

    @DS Zona is a country that has a matriarchal political structure. The ruler is the Matriarch who lives in the Lady Palace and they worship The Serene Mother.

    ReplyReply

  6. Jane
    Sep 17, 2009 @ 21:30:46

    @ReacherFan I’m off to read your review!

    ReplyReply

  7. Jane
    Sep 17, 2009 @ 21:31:26

    @Heather Massey I loved the cover. Very stylized. As for the review, yes it was long and I cut stuff too!

    ReplyReply

  8. Carolyn
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 00:37:49

    Is it a man or a woman on that cover? And is it playing a violin or holding a sword? These old eyes …

    ReplyReply

  9. ms bookjunkie
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 02:01:17

    @DS:
    - Prime is the principal lover (or main squeeze) of the Crown Prince.
    - Blade went on a diplomatic mission because he had his own reasons for going.
    - There were no female diplomats to Zona because…of historical reasons? Or they refused to go to such a backwards place? I’ll have to check that out since I can’t quite remember but it was -as I recall- mentioned in the story.

    ETA:
    I love this book. (I am quite able to suspend my disbelief for the duration of the story and just *believe* is the world the author describes to me.) The only problem I had was with the names…some of them were way too similar. I get that the twins had almost identical names (though it was VERY confusing for my tired mind), but several times I had problems figuring out if the story was talking about Blade’s mother or one of the warriors -and I still can’t figure out the difference in those two names. Since I often read while tired, this is something authors should pay attention to.

    Anyway, this one went into the “worth rereading” file.

    ReplyReply

  10. NKKingston
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 02:50:40

    Is anyione else mentally pronouncing Blademir as Vlademir? Gives the whole thing a Dracula edge. :P

    ReplyReply

  11. ms bookjunkie
    Sep 18, 2009 @ 06:06:51

    @ms bookjunkie: typo in earlier comment, I meant *believe* in the world

    ReplyReply

  12. kimber an
    Sep 19, 2009 @ 09:24:00

    Unfortunately, I’ve read too many similar blurbs of Futuristics to be drawn into this one. The cover art is very similar to everything else at Samhain. I never would’ve picked it out of the line-up.

    And I’m a prime target reader for it. I love Futuristic and Science Fiction Romance.

    This is too bad too because the story might be excellent, for all I know, but I don’t have time to go digging.

    However, I’m positively giddy there’s a ‘Futuristic bandwagon’ somewhere!

    ReplyReply

  13. Val Roberts
    Sep 20, 2009 @ 14:17:08

    Jane,
    Thanks so much for reviewing my book.

    ReplyReply

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