Author: Tricia Levenseller
Narrator: Emily Ellet
Audiobook Length: 9 hours 12 minutes
In Master of Iron, the conclusion to Tricia Levenseller’s exciting Bladesmith YA fantasy duology, a magically gifted blacksmith with social anxiety must race against the clock to save her beloved sister and stop a devastating war.
Eighteen-year-old Ziva may have defeated a deadly warlord, but the price was almost too much. Ziva is forced into a breakneck race to a nearby city with the handsome mercenary, Kellyn, and the young scholar, Petrik, to find a powerful magical healer who can save her sister’s life.
When the events that follow lead to Ziva and Kellyn’s capture by an ambitious prince, Ziva is forced into the very situation she’s been dreading: magicking dangerous weapons meant for world domination.
The forge has always been Ziva’s safe space, a place to avoid society and the anxiety it causes her, but now it is her prison, and she’s not sure just how much of herself she’ll have to sacrifice to save Kellyn and take center stage in the very war she’s been trying to stop.
Master of Iron is the epic conclusion in the Bladesmith duology. After loving the first novel, Blade of Secrets, I could not wait to get my hands on this sequel. While my expectations were high, I am glad the story lived up to them. As the story picks up right where the previous novel ended, it is highly recommended to read the two stories in order. The first chapter opens with the four main characters, Ziva, the magical bladesmith, Temra, Ziva’s younger sister, Petrick, the scholar, and Kellyn, the mercenary, right in the action as they determine their next steps. Throughout the chapter there is some nice recap of what happened in the previous story, which worked well for me as I read the two stories a year apart.
Temra has been injured after the last battle where they defeated Kymora and the team is on the lookout for a healer to save her. They discover the healer that they need is in the possession of a rival ruler and they must set off on an adventure in enemy territory. Along with the main romance developing between Kellyn and Ziva, there is also one between Petrick and Temra. This one is done more in the background, but I loved watching these two characters try to figure out their relationship.
Ziva’s relationship with Kellyn continues to grow, although her self-doubt and lack of experience make her a little dense about understanding that they like each other. I can understand how this can frustrate some readers as it is obvious that these two have eyes only for each other, but neither of them fully acts on it right away. For me, I think this progression in the relationship and in the inner turmoil in Ziva’s head fit with the character that was introduced in the first story. There is some banter between them, but I do wish the name-calling was reduced a little bit. There were moments where Ziva referred to Kellyn as an idiot or other terms, which at times felt like banter and others just added up to be too much.
Along with the action plot of war and the relationship subplots, the story continues to deal with Ziva as an individual with social anxiety. She continues to grow over time and become more confident in herself, so I loved this aspect of the story. There were a few moments, however, where I felt that her growth was too perfect. These came where Ziva had comebacks right away or had something to say quickly where it seemed that she was not struggling as much. For me, who has anxiety, I wish there were a few more backslides in her progress, where it was some forward and some back as it would feel more realistic.
Overall, I loved how this story balanced the simplicity with the complex. The characters were all likable and their personalities were distinct. Each of them played a role in the story, but they meshed well together, even the villains and secondary/tertiary characters. I may have a few issues here and there with some elements, but this was still a fantastic duology. I could see myself re-reading both novels without any hesitation. While this may be the end of the duology, I hope one day there is a novella or something introduced where readers can catch-up with the characters. Until then, I greatly look forward to my next Levenseller read!
**I give a special thank you to Netgalley and Macmillan Audio for the opportunity to read this entertaining novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**