Okay, so as you know I just finished and freakin loved The Shadow’s Between Us, so I was pretty psyched to start this book. Unfortunately… I can’t say I loved it. I felt like the plot was slow, the characters were static, and nothing that happened in the book really interested me at all. Also, I felt like the love story was incredibly cheesy and made me roll my eyes SO MANY TIMES.
Here is a brief summary before I jump into my thoughts.
Ziva is a young woman who suffers from social anxiety and who prefers the company of the swords she makes over other humans. She is the sole caretaker of her sweet and outgoing younger sister after their parents passed away. Her sister and her run a world renowned bladesmith, with the sister, Temra, running the shop and dealing with the outside world while Ziva uses her mysterious powers to make a blade for the customer. Often this blade is infused with a very specific type of magical power (super strength, accuracy, etc.). One day, a powerful warlord commissions a sword that she requests to be the most powerful blade in history… or else. Ziva is initially stumped but eventually after looking out the window and glimpsing a handsome stranger who, for the first time in memory, makes Ziva want to get to know someone besides her sister, suddenly Ziva’s magic infuses the sword and Ziva discovers she has made a sword that allows the holder to hear the people around them’s secrets. When displaying this sword’s prowess, Ziva glimpses that the warlord has a secret plot to enslave the world under her command. A frightened Ziva takes this new sword, grabs her sister, and runs away in the dark of night to prevent the warlord’s intentions from becoming a reality. Ziva and Temra are joined in their quest by a mercenary named Kellyn (incidentally, this is the man Ziva glimpsed and was so besotted with her powers ran wild and created the sword), and a bookworm/studier of magic named Patrick. This unlikely four-some travel the continent trying to find a way to either destroy the sword or find someone to wield the sword and defeat the warlord.
Oh Ziva.. in some ways I should relate to her more than any other character that Tricia Levelseller has written. I am a big enough introvert that it often makes me wonder if I have undiagnosed social anxiety. Definitely not to the extreme Ziva has it, but I can certainly empathize with someone who feels awkward and unsure in the presence of other people. And maybe its because of this that I just couldn’t stand Ziva. Maybe she is too similar to how i often feel, that being in her head and hearing those thoughts didn’t take me away from my reality and just made me feel annoyed with her (similarly to how I often feel towards myself). Or… maybe she was just kind of annoying? I think her insta-love for Kellyn without even knowing him was so immature (and out of character! We who do not always like other people definitely do not instantly fall in love with them. In fact, the more beautiful they are the more nervous/repelled we are). I mean when she saw him she literally thought something along the lines of “I want to know all his secrets”. I almost shut the book then and there I was so done. Why can’t she just be normal and think, wow that man is hot. lol. I just kept wishing she would push herself and recognize that she deserves to have friends and she deserves to be known and loved. I just felt like her only personality trait was her social anxiety, and I kind of resent that. She could have been incredibly anxious around people, but also incredibly kind, incredibly selfless, incredibly courageous. Instead her internal monologue just felt like she was spiraling into an anxious panic at every second. However, I am hopeful that being that this is a first book in I believe a duology (correct me if I’m wrong) that this initial book was just setting the stage and we will see Ziva grow into a confident warrior woman in the sequel. In fact, if that is the case then I will be incredibly pleased. People with anxiety deserve to see a main character who suffers and prevails in spite of their anxiety. This all being said, I do really appreciate Levenseller for breaking from her norm of a confident strong young woman and creating a character who is the exact opposite for us. I can’t think of another historical fantasy book whose main character suffers from social anxiety, and I think there could be some amazing things to come out of Ziva in the future.
Zemra is the character that is most like Levenseller’s other leading ladies. She doesn’t quite have Alessandra and Alosa’s cunning or sarcasm, but she is a confident young woman who is a badass with a sword. She and Ziva have a mostly very sweet sisterly relationship where they mutually care for one another. Zemra fights them out of trouble many many times, I admit some times I wished the story was from her POV.
Petrik is some like librarian/studier of magic and he actually makes sense to have on this journey. Once they tell him about the sword, he is happy to brainstorm ways to destroy it with them. He is a typical librarian, sweet and shy and his little crush on Zemra is very cute.
He is apparently a top notch mercenary who uses the money he makes to send back to his family. He is very interested in Ziva and is not shy about saying it, while of course Ziva is very very shy around him because she too is attracted to him. They basically spend the whole trip dancing back and forth with their attraction with Kellyn also beginning to wonder if this kind of blatant defiance of the war lord is safe for his family’s wellbeing. His character was pretty boring TBH.
Ramblings of Kendyl
I feel like this book was 90% cheesy romance 10% sword fighting. And honestly the romance was kind of lazily done, I just don’t like insta love and that’s how both couples were. And seriously, did the four characters we see the most need to couple up? Temra didn’t even seem to like Petrik, he was kind of annoying her and then suddenly they like each other! And don’t get me started on Kellyn and Ziva. There was no buildup to any relationship, no getting to know each other. It was like they started in love and then got to know each other from there. There appeared to be no direction for the characters, they were just kind of traveling places randomly and surprised when the bad guys inevitably found them? There was basically no character development or story development for the entirety of the book.
Overall, would rate this book a 2/5 stars.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from this book
“I am more than my fear and weaknesses, but so much of the time, they’re all I can think about.”
Such a silly, superficial thing, and yet, so much danger was created because of it.”
Did you like Blade of Secrets?
Let me know in the comments!!