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Flesh and Fire (Vineart War #1)

3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  922 Ratings  ·  143 Reviews
From acclaimed bestselling author Laura Anne Gilman comes a unique and enthralling new story of fantasy and adventure, wine and magic, danger and hope....

Once, all power in the Vin Lands was held by the prince-mages, who alone could craft spellwines, and selfishly used them to increase their own wealth and influence. But their abuse of power caused a demigod to break the
Hardcover, 374 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by Pocket (first published September 21st 2009)
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Dec 03, 2009 Michael rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, read-in-2009
Laura Anne Gilman's fantasy novel "Flesh and Fire" may not reinvent the fantasy wheel, but at least it has an interesting magical system in place.

The magical system of this world is built around grape and wines, with various vineyards producing grapes and wines that have various magical powers and uses. It's a fascinating concept and when the story delves into the system that Gilman is setting up and how people are chosen and trained in the ways of the magical system, the book really works.

Apr 01, 2010 Jeffrey rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fantasy fans of new and interesting worlds
Shelves: fantasy, read-in-2009
Laura Gilman's latest fantasy novel in a huge departure from her urban fantasy novels. She pulls it off with panache because she brings to the table a completely unique system of magic involving vinters and wine. The spellwines themselves involve a lot of the same usual magic of weather, healing etc, but I thoroughly enjoyed this new magical system. Although the world is unique and system of magic are unique, the fantasy itself, in which a young apprentice, a quick learner, named Jerzy and his M ...more
K. Lincoln
Sep 13, 2009 K. Lincoln rated it really liked it
**I read an ARC of this book**

Gilman says in her afterword (or foreword, I can't remember) that she wrote this book after an off-hand comment by her agent about writing her a food-based fantasy.

So she did. About wine. About wine that is magic.

And so this first book in the series (and it's oh so obvious that it's a first book in a series, basically it just sets up characters, the world, and the magic system and the first taste of the big bad) goes in depth about viniculture and magic.

Despite how
Sherwood Smith
Jan 26, 2010 Sherwood Smith added it
Shelves: fantasy, bvc
Jerzy is a slave, working in the vineyard of his master, Malech. He senses the magic inherent in the grapes, and awaits death after the master smites a ten year old boy for an error, but instead, he is brought to the house to be trained as a possible Vineart--master of wine magic.

Vinearts are plucked from slaves, as the vinearts believe that the stresses of the slave life bring out the talent, as stresses bring out the best in the harvest. Jerzy learns, as the world begins to show signs of serio
Nadine Jones
Apr 05, 2010 Nadine Jones rated it it was ok
The plot superficially centers around magic spells (which are linked with wine), and it's set in an imaginary world, so it is superficially a "fantasy" novel. But I found the fantasy aspect to not be central to the plot at all - this could just as easily take place in the "real" world. The main plot is a young boy's coming of age, discovering a vast plot of political intrigue, and finding companions for his quest to discover the truth.

This book was very very slow, and while it was well-written
Bruna Bellini
I tried to read it, but it's sooo boring!
Nothing happens!
Wizards that are magicians that drink wine from all kind of grapes to have different powers, but even so, we have no action!
Anyway, reaaally boring!
Feb 24, 2011 Brenda rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
More of a set-up to a series than a complete novel, Flesh and Fire starts off almost painfully slow, but builds into something really interesting. I will continue on with the series.
Dec 30, 2010 Karissa rated it liked it
This is the first book in the "Vineart War Trilogy" by Laura Anne Gilman. I received this book as an Advanced Reading Copy through the Amazon Vine program. I have never read anything from Gilman before, although I have wanted to read her Retrievers series. I have mixed feelings about this book. Gilman created a couple great characters, a very unique and interesting magic system, and a complex world. Unfortunately the plot lags and the book doesn't resolve any story as much as just set things up. ...more
Jaime Huff
Oct 25, 2009 Jaime Huff rated it liked it
The premise and idea was interesting. Spellbound wine in a world in which there seems to be three major groups: Vinearts (who control the wine, the spells, and answer to no one), the Princes (who think the Vinearts and the Washers should answer to them but understand the command) and The Washers (who seem to be priestly beings ensuring moral behaviors and that the Sin Washer's commands are upheld). Very creative, a fantasy about magical wine. I love it! As a person who loves wine.... I was game! ...more
This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For
Although the concept in the book seems very promising, Flesh and Fire fails to deliver on some level. Although it is the first book of a series, and therefore cannot be expected to tie things up in a neat package, it not only completely fails to resolve anything, it also mostly fails to end on a high note, leaving the reader asking for more. Where is the unexpected plot twist or question which gets things going for the second book? While there are plenty of unresolved issues, I came away hardly ...more
CV Rick
Jul 22, 2011 CV Rick rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy
There were more cliches in the first 50 pages than I could stand. Victim, slave, magic, potions, mystery, UFL (ubiquitous fantasy land). The whole time I was just begging her to get to the damned story already because the world building was so unnecessary. She could've just started the book with the following statement, "We enter a world I ripped off from the last 30 fantasy writers with multibook series and although my magic system is different, it's so little different that you might as well j ...more
Feb 24, 2016 DemetraP rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It had fascinating world building. How do you put magic into wine and make it spellwine? How do you use spellwine? How do you become a Vineart and have your own Vineyard?

The tiny details of this magic wine and the world that uses it was really well written. This book felt like a very unique read to me. I can't think of another book like it.

Basically a slave is discovered to have the ability to become a Vineart and he starts training. But something is going wrong acro
Ally Marie
Jul 13, 2015 Ally Marie rated it did not like it
Shelves: series, book-club, dnf
I read 90 pages of the book and decided not to finish reading it for the monthly book club read. I found the pacing of the story to be very slow and I personally never felt pulled into the plot. The only character I was interested in was Jerzy and I quickly became bored with how slowly he was progressing with his training. The writing was too descriptive and repetitive regarding daily tasks which I found to be distracting. I have heard that the story has more action in the second half of the boo ...more
Too slow for me. I think it's partly on purpose, setting a certain tone in a world that has been (or seems to have been) virtually unchanged for 1500 years and showing how people react to sudden crisis. But it dragged a lot; if I wasn't a huge fan of the author's I may not have stuck it out. I like the concepts and the characters, but I think she got a bit stuck in a set-up mode, similar to in her first PSI book. It seems like she wanted to show the learning process the characters went through, ...more
Feb 26, 2010 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I was a bit skeptical at first - who has ever heard of a fantasy book set around wine? (I am willing to acknowledge the magical properties of alcohol as quickly as anyone, but still....).

My skepticism quickly went away. Gilman weaves a fascinating world, one where the earthly problems of agriculture mixes with the dangers, mysticism, and thrill of magic. Mixing in different elements - a slave society, mixed with a noble class, adds complexity and social tensions to the story as well.

It is a gr
David Hankerson
Oct 15, 2009 David Hankerson rated it really liked it
This is a great fantasy epic in the vein of George RR Martin's "Song of Fire n Ice". Compelling characters that you care about, lots of political intrigue, a smattering of action and of course a touch of magic. WHat's unique about this book is the basis of magic in this world--wine. The descriptions are so vivid, I could almoste tast the wine on my tongue. A great marriage of my two loves---reading and food(wine).
May 26, 2010 Brenda rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
I couldn't get myself to finish this typical boring book. I just didn't find myself caring about the main character at all. Sure - he's a natural, and as he's learning, the master is so surprised to see that he gets it right away, with every single spell - every single time. oye.
Nov 07, 2015 Daphne rated it it was ok
Shelves: own-audio, quest
Did not like. Maybe I just couldn't get past the silly premise of having magic based solely on the quality of grapes to make wine.
Sep 07, 2010 Jenn rated it did not like it
Shelves: unfinished
Just couldn't get into this story. It moved way too slow an the story line just did not capture me. I tried to get through it but after 120 pgs just wasn't worth any more of my time
Jul 21, 2009 Schnaucl rated it liked it
Recommended to Schnaucl by: galley slave program
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeremy Huntsinger
I came into this book really wanting to love it. I like it when authors make unique magic systems and then exploring how that effects the world they build around it. I also enjoy watching a hero rise from poor conditions into greatness. I don't mind an environment with dark undertones either. These things are all fine with me and are aspects I expected from Flesh and Fire but... I need to talk about how much of this story is brought down by both structure, and by shoddy character development.

Nov 28, 2016 Beko rated it really liked it
Interesting Magic system. Great Story.
Feb 01, 2012 Megan rated it it was ok
(Re-posted from

I firmly believe that nothing, nothing is more important in a book than the protagonist. A well written hero can carry the weakest of plots, elevate the plainest of supporting cast and make an otherwise average book into something special. Laura Anne Gilman’s ‘Flesh and Fire’ proves all to well that the reverse is definitely not true.

The concept of Flesh and Fire is really cool, and handled originally. A few select men, called Vinearts, can
Sep 25, 2016 Margaret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
*From acclaimed bestselling author Laura Anne Gilman comes a unique and enthralling new story of fantasy and adventure, wine and magic, danger and hope....*

Once, all power in the Vin Lands was held by the prince-mages, who alone could craft spellwines, and selfishly used them to increase their own wealth and influence. But their abuse of power caused a demigod to break the Vine, shattering the power of the mages. Now, fourteen centuries later, it is the humble Vinearts who hold the secret of cra
Jan 29, 2016 Melani rated it liked it
Shelves: epic-fantasy
This is a well written fantasy novel, the world building is very well thought out and presented nicely, the characters are well rounded and interesting. This book should have been catnip for me, and yet it was a chore to read. I was stuck in a blizzard and I still had trouble forcing myself to read this one. I just found myself so bored by it. I’d be reading a passage and my mind would start to wander to other things. I had the same issue with another of Gilman’s novels Staying Dead, and I DNFed ...more
Feb 06, 2012 Todd rated it it was amazing
I’ve always been a fan of science fiction and fantasy, and there are certain themes that are typically prevalent in the storyline of a good fantasy . I thought I had seen all of them, but that was before I read Flesh and Fire, the first novel in the Vineart War series by Laura Anne Gilman. This particular novel centers around wine. Not just any wine, but magical wine!

Once, in the Vin Lands there were men of great influence known as prince-mages. They were given almost unlimited power in the way
Haralambi Markov
Feb 03, 2013 Haralambi Markov rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Cover art and book blurb have hinted that this will be the beginning of yet another medieval fantasy series, which will explore yet again the coming of age theme. What can be so different from all the other books under the same lid? Oh, everything. From the magic system, which has cemented my conviction that fantasy knows no bounds, to the unorthodox handling of the coming of age trope this novel is as refined as any French vintage year. I couldn’t find a fault anywhere within this story and I u ...more
Oct 25, 2009 Gaby rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Flesh and Fire (The Vineart War, #1)
"Vinearts did not appear full-blown from the earth, after all. It was an ironic gift from Sin Washer: generations of trial and error had proven that only the deprivations of slavery, the removal of all family ties and comforts, pushed a man to the point where magic would surface. Even now, he could not coddle the boy, or risk ruining him. The skills were inherent and easily proven by the first test, but the refining of them required a combination of elements.
Jun 25, 2012 Dale rated it liked it
The most tempting thing for a fantasy author to do is to create an abundance of different races; if they haven't already begun to write it using elves and dwarves already in mind. Flesh and Fire, the first in the Vineart War, is entirely comprised of humans, with nationality differentiating the backgrounds of the characters. It is not a bad departure, although that means treating it on the same standard as other high fantasy series -- my mistake in assumption, I tend to generalize books from cov ...more
Jan 15, 2010 Julie rated it it was ok
Jerzy is a slave. He has never known anything but slavery in the Master Vineart's fields, toiling away at the grape vines that create the magical wine that is so coveted by the powerful and all of the Vinearts.

Jerzy's life is uneventful until one fateful day when he happens to get a face full of the grape mash and feels something magical in the wine. Knowing death is certain now that he, a lowly slave, has tasted the magical brew, the Master summons Jerzy to the main house. But instead of walkin
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By the time she was fourteen, Laura Anne Gilman knew she would be an editor, a teacher, or a writer.

By thirty, she was all three. She's a little focused that way (when not being distracted by -oooh shiny!).

After fifteen years working in NY publishing, Laura Anne became a full-time writer, with more than twenty novels under her various bylines, including the SILVER ON THE ROAD, the Nebula Award-nom
More about Laura Anne Gilman...

Other Books in the Series

Vineart War (3 books)
  • Weight of Stone (Vineart War #2)
  • The Shattered Vine (Vineart War #3)

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