The Fireborne Blade by Charlotte Bond

Review by Avis Downs

Fantasy takes on a greater definition in The Fireborne Blade, something that is mostly unseen today, where the element of magic and mystery take a backseat. However, that is not the case for this glimpse into a riveting world of ancient dragons, gallant knights, cunning mages, and sapphic love. This book includes an unlikely companionship, snippets of the vast and complex lore, and a knight scorned by a manipulative former lover. Before reading this book, I believed I was a fantasy reader, but Charlotte Bond snapped me into the understanding of what a true fantasy book is supposed to encapsulate, and it was a refreshing change of pace from my usual read. For a novella of just one-hundred and sixty-four pages, Bond crafted truly complex and realistic characters, each with their own motivations and background. 

Maddileh is a knight, a rare line of work for women, who has to reclaim her honor and dignity by stealing an ancient blade from a deadly dragon. After a minor offense causes her to be banished and lose her knight’s armor, she is left to pick up the pieces of her life by retrieving the Fireborne Blade, a legendary weapon with a bloody history. The only issue is that death is certain, and peril is around every turn she takes. Maddileh is accompanied by Petros, a squire with a mysterious and rather suspicious background. Together they venture into the White Lady’s lair, where the truth unspools and the past is revealed. However, a web of deceit lies underneath the characters, and the only question to be answered is who the true spider is.

With each turn of the page, you switch back and forth between the past and the present, between one reality and one lost. Dragonslaying is no easy feat, but neither is making allies with mages and squires. Maddileh must not only kill the dragon and earn her redemption, but also fight against the dragon magic and mysterious entities that threaten her entire quest. However, there is more to this tale that meets the eye, and as the puzzle pieces come together, you’ll look back and realize how each little slice contributed to the big picture. 

Maddileh’s story of ambition and living in a world that tries to fit women in a box resonated with me on a deep level. This novella had me flying through the pages, and I can only hope there is more of this story to come.