An ornate hammer spins around under water.

About the Book

Title: Master of Iron (Bladesmith #2)
Published: 2022
Series: Bladesmith
Swoonworthy Scale: 8

Cover Story: Serviceable
BFF Charm: Let Me Love You
Talky Talk: Comfort Reads
Bonus Factor: Magic, Mental Health Representation
Anti-Bonus Factor: War
Relationship Status: Old Friends

Careful, Sweetie: spoilers! This is the first book in the Bladesmith duology, so if you haven’t read the previous one, you should probably hop back in the TARDIS and go curl up by the pool in the library with the first book before continuing.

Cover Story: Serviceable

I’d like to think the cover artist was trying to evoke the smithing process with these covers. First the metal needs to be heated (first cover) and then once it’s done it’s thrust into water to stop the process (second cover). From that perspective, I like it. The cover itself on its own, well…it’s not the most interesting one I’ve seen, but Ziva’s hammers are a big part of the story.  

The Deal:

Kymora the Warlord has been captured, but it came at a high cost: Ziva’s sister, Temra, was gravely wounded and is fighting for her life. Ziva is pushing her ragtag band of travelers to the limits to get them to Prince Skiro in order to obtain the help of a magical healer. Unfortunately, the healer has been kidnapped by another of the late king’s power-hungry children, and now Ziva, Petrik, and Kellyn have to pull off a rescue attempt.

But going deep into enemy territory yields some unexpected twists and turns, and it’s not just Temra’s fate that feels like it rests on Ziva’s shoulders, but the entirety of Ghadra’s.

BFF Charm: Let Me Love You

BFF charm with teary eyes hugging a heart

As someone who’d rather be alone, living a quiet life, the events of the last few months have been extra torturous on Ziva. She’s grappling with overwhelming anxiety, guilt, anger, fear—you name it, she’s probably had a mini panic attack about it. She doesn’t really need me because she’s got great people surrounding her (and she’s stronger than she thinks!) but I couldn’t help but want to give her a big hug now and then.

Swoonworthy Scale: 8

In her author’s note, Tricia says she promised her readers after The Shadows Between Us that she’d give us more kissing scenes, and I think she fulfilled her promise here! Ziva is angry at Kellyn for not saving her sister at the end of Blade of Secrets, but thankfully she doesn’t spend the entire book shunning him. What Tricia gives us instead is a worthy romantic lead: Kellyn is kind and respectful of Ziva’s boundaries and lets her work out her fears without pushing her, but he’s also down for making out in a dusty, unused room whenever and wherever they’ve got time. THIS is the way to make a genuinely “good boy” book boyfriend not boring.

Talky Talk: Comfort Reads

So I accidentally read this in one sitting overnight (at least I picked a Saturday night instead of a weeknight! Progress!). After I was done, I was happy and satisfied, and I think that’s what I like about Levenseller’s style. Her writing is relatable and her worlds easy to fall into, and she’s giving me a story with plenty of hardship and issues and character growth, but she’s also providing satisfying endings that aren’t there to pull the rug out from under me. A bittersweet or sad ending has its place, but I read for many reasons, and one is because I need a stress-relieving escape.

Bonus Factor: Magic

A blackbackground with a glowing fiery circular symbol

We know Ziva has magical smithing abilities, but in the first book she spends most of her time running from danger. In this book she’s got longer stretches with access to a forge, as well as being able to connect with other magic-users, and it allows her to explore her abilities in new ways.

Bonus Factor: Mental Health Representation

Rebecca Bunch sitting with her therapist, Dr Akopian, in her office from Crazy Ex Girlfriend

We also dive deeper into Ziva’s anxiety issues in this book as she tries to cope with all the stressful situations she’s been thrust into. Levenseller does a great job portraying Ziva’s fears and concerns—like at some point I started feeling a little overwhelmed myself—BUT she also has Ziva learning about ways to work through her anxieties, like reframing her negative self-talk and asking people for what she needs at the moment. It’s not a cure-all, and Ziva is never “fixed”, but she does gain more confidence in herself. It’s not something you see often in YA books, and especially not in a fantasy, and I think it’ll be a great boon for many readers to see a main character going through similar struggles.

Anti-Bonus Factor: War

Two armies face each other across a battlefield while a city burns off to the side (from LotR).

For someone who creates weapons that are, ah, generally for ending someone’s life, Ziva is very uninterested in taking another life. She’ll do what she needs to protect those she loves, but violence is a terrible thing, and Levenseller doesn’t pull her punches when she describes how damaging it is and the toll it can take on your psyche.

Relationship Status: Old Friends

After all our time spent on the road together, Book, it just felt right when we met back up again to exchange details on how our lives have gone since we last parted. You had some wild stories to tell! I’m always rooting for you to live your best life. Let’s catch up again soon, okay?

Literary Matchmaking

Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle #1)

If you’re looking for found family and wars being fought in space, then check out Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.

Project You: More Than 50 Ways to Calm Down, De-Stress, and Feel Great

Do you need a stress-reliever after this book or just, ya know, life? Try Project You: More Than 50 Ways to Calm Down, De-Stress, and Feel Great by Aubre Andrus.

A Magic Steeped in Poison (The Book of Tea #1)

Ning also feels like the weight of the world (and her sister’s survival) is all on her shoulders in A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Feiwel & Friends. I received neither money nor peanut butter cups in exchange for this review. Master of Iron is available on July 27, 2022.

Stephanie (she/her) is an avid reader who moonlights at a college and calls Orlando home. Stephanie loves watching television, reading DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.