Flesh and Fire (Vineart War #1) by Laura Anne Gilman
I’ve always enjoyed reading Laura Ann Gilman‘s Retrievers novels, and so I was excited to hear she was starting a new fantasy series.
Set in a world once ruled by prince-mages, Flesh and Fire is about Jerzy, a slave who becomes a student to his master, a Vineart – a man who creates spellwines from the grapes in his vineyard. The art of making spellwine is known only to Vinearts, who operate outside of the political world, creating the only source of magic in the land, so it’s a serious business he’s entered, with little room for error.
While Jerzy begins to learn his craft, strange magic is appearing in different vineyards and realms, often with deadly results. No one seems to know what to make of this new threat, but Jerzy’s master Malech decides to look into it, with Jerzy as his tool.
Flesh and Fire is a joy to read. The book’s mythology is original and well thought out, creating a society with many layers. The author has also created a diverse cast of characters that I want to learn more about. I particularly enjoyed Detta, Ao and Mahault. The plot moves along at a good pace and really builds toward the next book in the trilogy, Weight of Stone, while providing a satisfying conclusion for some of the events in the story. I’m excited to see what happens to Jerzy and company next.