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Black Blade Blues (Sarah Beauhall #1)

3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  1,453 ratings  ·  194 reviews
Sarah Beauhall has more on her plate than most twenty-somethings: day job as a blacksmith, night job as a props manager for low-budget movies, and her free time is spent fighting in a medieval re-enactment group.

The lead actor breaks Sarah's favorite one-of-a-kind sword, and to avoid reshooting scenes, Sarah agrees to repair the blade. One of the extras, who claims to be a
ebook, 400 pages
Published April 27th 2010 by Tor Books (first published April 22nd 2010)
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Lolly's Library
2.5 out of 5 stars

Oy. I have had the hardest time trying to review this book. It was such a mixed-bag: Parts of it were good, parts were merely okay, yet none of it elicited any strong emotions in me. So I'm going to make this a bare-bones, flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants review (and for those of you clapping and cheering at being spared reading another one of my long-winded reviews, well, that's just rude).

The Good:
-This was only the second book/series I've read featuring a female blacksmith (th
Mike (the Paladin)
Just came in from the library...moved to the top of the pile with several other library books.

Well, not for me. For one thing it's in many ways more a romance than a fantasy adventure and that's not something I'm into. There are some odd moments and some "why did you make that decision" moments. I sort of wanted to enjoy this one but by 50 pages in I could tell I wasn't going to get into it.

I think if your into romance especially the the "my life's been hard" and "I haven't been understood till
Jacob Proffitt
I wanted to like this a whole lot more than I did. There are a lot of things about Sarah that seem like they should add up to a lot of cool story opportunities. A ren-faire blacksmith with martial training and a bardic girlfriend who reforges an ancient magical dragon-killing sword? What's not to like, right? Well, that's kind of the problem. All of these pieces just didn't add up and I ended up feeling like Sarah was a mosaic without an actual pattern.

Part of that is how very scarred she is fro
Sarah Beauhall, heroine of Black Blade Blues, was a woman after my own heart from the very beginning. Not only is she a lesbian and a blacksmith — traits that set her apart from the Standard Urban Fantasy Heroine — she also attends sci-fi conventions and hangs out with Ren Faire and SCA enthusiasts. This isn’t just a character I’d like to have a beer with. This is a character I feel like I’ve already had a beer with! Like lots of her compatriots in urban fantasy, she does have anger-management i ...more
This is the first of a series, but I won't be reading any further books (either in the series or by this author). I finished it just to get it over with. It had promise: a seemingly strong lesbian protagonist (a modern blacksmith no less) in a real-world-meets-fantasy setting. Unfortunately I found the setting of the book was too serious and would-be gritty for what it was, both detracting considerably from the believability of the book. Also several of the implied assumptions were offensive, in ...more
K. Bird
*Gnashes teeth in frustration*

This was another book I sooooooooo wanted to like alot....and just didn't really get into.

Probably would have given it 3.5 stars, if that were possible. It was just very uneven.

The ideas here are totally kick-ass awesome.

Blacksmith protagonist dealing with sexual identity? Very cool. Underlying Norse mythology? Awesome.
Society for Creative Anachronism friends being used as a cover for people who are aware of magic in the world? No brainer-good idea.
Pacific Northwes
Geektastic modern fantasy with smart mythological references and sensitive characters. The 'urban fantasy' set may not love this; it's less about slick, dark, sexy action than it is about average geeks dealing with extraordinary problems (and ordinary but still tough ones).

I said geek twice in the first paragraph, because this feels like a book with a definite target audience: mainstream modern geeks. Renn faire lovers, DIYers, sword enthusiasts, techies, con-goers, queer-friendly folk, star wa
I’ve been trying to articulate, for about ten minutes now, exactly why I didn’t super-love Black Blade Blues, but I can’t find a good way to do it, so y’all will just have to put up with my stream-of-consciousness thought process instead.

If I had read this as a fanfiction – like, if Sarah had been replaced with Hermione – I would have spent the entire time sighing about how she was a total Mary Sue. Angsty childhood? Check! Suffering from emotional abuse? Check! Doesn’t think she’s pretty althou
This is a really neat urban fantasy book with a strong dose of Norse mythology, but what really made it shine for me was the human story. The main character is a young woman blacksmith who has no idea that any of the stories from the ancient lore could possible be true, despite spending her weekends with her friends The Black Briar clan swinging a sword in mock battles at renaissance fairs and Society for Creative Anacronism events. But when she meets a guy who says he's a dwarf who needs her to ...more
Vince Gotera
I gotta tell ya, at first I didn't expect much from Black Blade Blues by J.A. Pitts. I know we're not supposed to judge a book by it cover but (as my daughter pointed out to me) really, a blacksmith in a crop top? Seems like a recipe for burnt belly button. But the book was better than I thought it would be. Pitts, a man married to a woman and with kids, does a great job getting into the mind and body of a lesbian who's only recently out. (Yes, I know a man married to a woman can be gay, thank y ...more
Black Blade Blues enters a field inundated with new titles, the fiercely competitive urban fantasy sub genre. As such I almost didn't read it, which would have been a shame. For once, a newcomer to the scene has managed to write something more than an imitative rip-off of the established stars.

Pitts gives us a protagonist that at first blush made me think "Here we go, another tough chick heroine". But Sarah Beauhall is different than your prototypical urban fantasy tough girl. Sure, she's physic
Sarah Beuhall is pretty sure she needs therapy. Her personal demons of doubt and self-identity keep her from being happy with her life, even though at first it appears to be going well. She's got a job she loves (blacksmithing; props for a local B movie director), beautiful girlfriend who loves her (Katie), and a chosen family in her Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) reenactor friends--so why does everything still seem to go wrong?

But none of those problems are nearly as bad as the ones tha
MB Taylor
I finished reading Black Blade Blues a couple of weeks ago. It’s a fun romp. I’m a bit of a Norse Mythology fan (after discovering Thor comic books in the mid-sixties) and this had just enough Norse gods undertone. (Norse Code (2009) by Greg Van Eekhout is especially fun if you’re into that sort of thing.) The main character in Black Blade Blues, Sarah Beauhall, is a part time blacksmith and part time movie props manager in the Pacific Northwest. She’s also one angry and confused young woman.

When javaczuk asked me what I was reading, I mumbled something about urban fantasy, blacksmiths, lesbians, Seattle/Portland, and a dragon who was a shape-shifter and currently in the form of an investment banker. That caught his attention. And the book caught mine, too. I can see it that it is the start for what may be a really interesting series. Loved that it was set in an area of the country where we long to go, dragons or not, and really like that the author stepped outside of his gender com ...more
Yolanda Sfetsos
I've been having an awesome run with urban fantasy books, and now I can add this book to the list. It's awesome! Seriously awesome.

Sarah Beauhall is a blacksmith by day and props manager at night. The night one of her swords is damaged on the set and she reforges it, her life changes. All of a sudden a dwarf won't leave her alone about the sword, and she starts to feel different. She can't seem to control her moods, or her anger, and seems to be making one bad move after another.

She's also confl
Really liked the book. Held off purchasing the ebook (gf says i have too many real books so only allowed ebooks :) for a while as I prefer an Indy house to the likes of the "Jungle", but after almost a year I finally caved and got the kindle version. Its purchase undermined my moral high ground, but the actual tale did not disappoint. It is a solid adventure that sweeps the reader up into the action. The main character is flawed but determined, and has a kind and noble heart. The battle scenes a ...more
John Carter McKnight
Investment bankers who're ageless dragons secretly running the world! An air-cavalry assault by orcs! The RenFaire strikes back! Kickass urban fantasy, but what makes this book great is the achingly real emotions of the protagonist's coming out/coming of age.

This first novel definitely has rough edges, which kept it from 5 stars for me, but is pretty awesome.

The "refusing the call" step in the Hero's Journey usually feels phony: who wouldn't want to give up their crappy ordinary life to be a he
Roxanne Skelly
I picked up this book after I sat in on a norwescon session on gender in speculative fiction. J.A. Pitts was the sole male representative on that panel, and after hearing the discussion on the challenges of stepping outside ones gender in writing characters, I decided to give his book a try.

I probably set the bar pretty high as far as the content of this book goes. I'm a Seattle native, and I am part of various alternative communities. I've also tended to read urban fantasy written by women, as
Beth Cato
There's a lot to like about this new urban fantasy title, and a few serious dislikes, too. Let's start with the likes and the general story.[return][return]Sarah Beauhall is a blacksmith by day, a B-movie props manager by night. When her favorite sword is broken on the set, one of the movie extras approaches her. That sword isn't some mere antique. It's Gram, an ancient magical sword, and she's supposed to kill a dragon with it. And the movie extra claims to be a dwarf (a six foot tall one at th ...more
Dec 15, 2012 Rich rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Urban Fantasy/Sword and Sorcery fans who don't particularly like PNR.
Recommended to Rich by: GR Reviews
I ripped thru this book pretty quickly, and enjoyed it all the way to the end. I liked the lead character, Sarah, and I thought the author did a good job of telling her story. Some of the dialog seemed a little silly at times (you'd think a dwarf who's been living among humans for centuries would learn to talk like someone who wasn't a character in a Ren Fair), and I've yet to read a guy author who's done a perfect job of writing women characters (much less conflicted lesbian blacksmiths with ba ...more
JJ DeBenedictis
I did not finish this book, but I could have. The prose is pleasant enough to read, and it's not that the book is bad--it's just not especially good. I got to page 70 and it seemed like there was basically no plot yet, unless following the protagonist around as she goes to work and hangs out with her girlfriend at Ren Faires is supposed to constitute a plot.

Well, okay; there is a leeetle plot. By page 70, the protagonist has reforged a movie prop sword and been informed by the Dwarven God of In
Karen Ireland-Phillips
One of the unexpected side effects of the acceptance of gay/lesbian/bi/trans relationships has been that it is no longer remarkable to find a gay character in a novel. [return]Except, how did I miss this one? The main character is a lesbian, in the process of coming out![return]I know I'd pigeon-holed this in my mind as just another urban fantasy, but it exceeded expectations. The story is fast paced, but not shallow. Sarah Beauhall is a journeyman smith, and prickly - at best - at her night job ...more
For a debut book for a new author this one comes out strong. I had no trouble developing an affinity for the primary characters, and the bonds of emotional investment in those characters formed quite quickly. There were some spots where things felt a touch contrived, but that is really something that you can expect from a first book. The ever so obvious setup for a follow-up book was perhaps the worst example of this.

The humanity of the characters was a refreshing change, and seeing an honest re
the one thing I take away from this book is disappointment, it should, and could, have been brilliant. I mean, just looking at what we are teased with, swords, dragons and a strong female character, and then a queer twist to it as well. I was hooked by the premise but sadly I quickly got disenchanted.

I would like to state right now it has nothing to do with the fact that the author is a male writing a lesbian main character in first person point of view, no, the writing in general is just... la
i love the d&d / Norse mythology theme. girl with sword and a bard for a girlfriend? takes me back to text based gaming days. i do think the tedious battle scenes would have dragged on a bit if i were reading and not listening. loved the theme but bored by the plot. I'm debating getting book 2 but i probably will at some point. 3.5

Great work on the characters and character building, to the degree that even when MC acted out in ways that were supposed to be out of character for her it was still in character. Don't ask me how that's possible.

Besides, I really liked Frederick and Quindra, (view spoiler)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
2015 reading challenge #43, a book that takes place in your home town

I don't think in the history of fiction that a book has been written set in my tiny tiny hometown. So I used my chosen hometown area of Seattle for this. I will say though, the constant mention of places I'm familiar with felt gratuitous, and at times they just felt wrong. There is no need for the detail Pitts shared, and it pulled me out of the story.

All in all, I can't say that I would recommend this book. Starts off with an
Rating 3.5. I saw this in the sci fi section of the bookstore. The cover caught my attention so I decided to give it a try.

I admit I enjoyed this story more then I thought I would. It's not perfect and it has it's issue but overall this isn't bad for a first book.

Most surprisingly however was how well the author did in regards to the main character. Sarah. I'd like to quote from another review I saw on tumblr: "I really am amazed how a middle-aged straight man has managed to hit so many nails h
Very much not my genre but my husband purchased the book at Value Village and I decided to read it.
Dragons - meh
Lesbian relationship - not my thing
sword fighting - cool although I have never tried it
Norse mythology - yawn, although I was amused by the Valkyrie who wanted a kiss in order for our main character to borrow her magic winged horse. Are Valkyries always like this?
Metal working - liked this
Takes place in the Seattle area - this was fun, for example this line, "A mushroom cloud appeare
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(from author's website) I learned to love science fiction at the knee of my grandmother, listening to her read authors like Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard during my childhood in rural Kentucky. My life has always been heavily influenced by strong women. My mother first among them: raising three boys after the death of my father, with grace and wit. There were always women coming and goi ...more
More about J.A. Pitts...

Other Books in the Series

Sarah Beauhall (3 books)
  • Honeyed Words (Sarah Beauhall #2)
  • Forged in Fire (Sarah Beauhall #3)
Honeyed Words (Sarah Beauhall #2) Forged in Fire (Sarah Beauhall #3) Bravado's House of Blues Courts of the Fey

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