Flesh and Fire: Where’s the fire?

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews Laura Anne Gilman The Vineart War 1. Flesh and FireFlesh and Fire by Laura Anne Gilman

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 walking to his execution, the master gives Jerzy a test and takes him on as his apprentice. It seems that Jerzy has the gift to craft and use spellwines.

While Jerzy is receiving his training, strange things are happening all over the realm. Cities are disappearing, strange monsters are causing death and destruction, and diseases threaten to kill off many of the spell vines. The Master is confused and worried by these changes of events, and therefore hastens Jerzy’s training. Even though Jerzy is talented, is he ready to up his training… when he’s just begun?

Flesh and Fire has an interesting premise. I was intrigued by the idea of creating a fantasy world revolving around wine, one of my very favorite things!
I also enjoyed Laura Anne Gilman’s characters; they have a lot of depth and I wanted to know what happens to them. Jerzy in particular has a charming innocence — everything was new and different for him, so it was interesting to read about small and seemingly insignificant things through Jerzy’s eyes.

However, Flesh and Fire just couldn’t maintain my attention because the plot lacked excitement. Laura Anne Gilman revs her story engine with something exciting like a battle with a sea monster, but then almost immediately switches gears and bogs down what was once a promising plot with political mumbo jumbo and speculation. It became tedious.

I was almost finished with Flesh and Fire when I became very ill and put it down for a week or so. After improving, I realized that I just couldn’t bring myself to pick it up again. So, sadly, I never did reach the end.

Laura Anne Gilmanhas a great concept for a good series, but it just didn’t work for me because of the rollercoaster plotline — sometimes exciting, sometimes not. I became more frustrated than enthralled, and ended up just not caring in the end. Pity. I had a lot of hope for Flesh and Fire.


fantasy and science fiction book reviewsJulie Waineo, one of our earliest guest reviewers, earned an MBA at Bowling Green State University. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies with a minor in French. Now living in Virginia with her husband and dog, Julie is an avid reader of not only fantasy, but historical fiction, the occasional “chick lit,” and children’s literature.

The Vineart War — (2009-2011) Publisher: Fourteen centuries ago, all power was held by the prince-mages, who alone could craft the spell-wines. But the people revolted against harsh rule, and were saved by a demigod called Sin-Washer, who broke the First Vine, shattering the hold of the prince-mages. In 1378 ASW, princes still rule, but Vinearts now make spellwines, less powerful than in days of old. Jerzy, a young slave, has just begun his studies to become a Vineart when his master uncovers the first stirrings of a plot to finish the work Sin-Washer began, and shatter the remains of the Vine forever. Only his master believes the magnitude and danger of this plot. And only Jerzy has the ability to stop it… before there are no more Vinearts left at all.

fantasy book review Laura Anne Gilman The Vineart War 1. Flesh and Fire 2. Weight of Stone 3.fantasy book review Laura Anne Gilman The Vineart War 1. Flesh and Fire 2. Weight of Stone 3.fantasy book review Laura Anne Gilman The Vineart War 1. Flesh and Fire 2. Weight of Stone 3. The Shattered Vine


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