Sardelle Terushan wakes from three hundred years in a mage stasis shelter, only to realize that she is the last of the Referatu, the sorcerers who once helped protect Iskandia from conquerors. Their subterranean mountain community was blown up in a treacherous sneak attack by soldiers who feared their power. Everyone Sardelle ever knew is dead, and the sentient soulblade she has been bonded to since her youth is buried in the core of the mountain. Further, what remains of her home has been infested by bloodthirsty miners commanded by the descendants of the very soldiers who destroyed her people.
Sardelle needs help to reach her soulblade—her only link to her past and her last friend in the world. Her only hope is to pretend she’s one of the prisoners while trying to gain the commander’s trust. But lying isn’t her specialty, especially when the world has changed so much in the intervening centuries, and if Colonel Zirkander figures out who she truly is, he’ll be duty-bound to sentence her to the only acceptable punishment for sorcerers: death.
Review by: Scott
Balanced on the Blade's Edge is described by Lindsay Buroker as a steampunk romance. Normally this would immediately disqualify it from my reading list, but Lindsay has established herself as a fantastic author who is capable of writing romantic elements into a story that involves more than longing looks and pining dialogue (see Amaranthe and Sicarius in the Emperor's Edge series).
The romance level in this book is substantially more than in the Emperor's Edge, but that isn't really a surprised since it is being advertised as a romance not a fantasy adventure. Luckily Lindsay still manages to write wonderful characters that can draw a reader into the world very quickly.
Colonel Ridge Zirkander is an amazing fighter pilot (the planes in this story sound pretty awesome) who is extremely impulsive. His talent has been enough to get him promoted to a high level in the military despite his trouble making ways. Sardelle Terushan is a sorceress who has been in stasis for 300 years. Waking up and learning that her entire people have been obliterated and the only link that she has is her bonded sentient soulblade.
The soulblade is a brilliant bit of plot work. The soul of a teenage sorceress who had a fatal disease and chose to put her soul into a sword to continue living, she maintains an amazing awareness of her surroundings. The fact that this soulblade has been aware of everything going around for the last 300 years and is even able to see the contents of books in the library of the prison built on top of Sardelle's home allow her to blend into the new people with much less awkwardness than would normally be expected.
Ridge is an ideal character for Lindsay's writing style. His personality of being a bit anti-authority, despite having a great deal of it himself, lends itself well to the type of witty humor that is often found in her books. He and Sardelle work well as a team, thanks in part to the soulblade being able to help her out with some info that is especially valuable. The difficulty for the two comes in two parts, first Sardelle has to pretend to be a new prisoner in order to explain her unexplained presence in a secret prison mine and second the fact that she is a sorceress surrounded by a people who regularly execute people who are suspected of having magic.
The story unfolds at a good pace, maintaining a fair amount of action due to air raids on the prison, while still allowing Ridge and Sardelle to work through their growing attraction for each other. I read this book in about two days time, which says volumes. If a book is built solely upon a troubled romance storyline it will take me weeks to forever to finish the story. There were a few parts that I thought a bit much, but nothing that takes away from the fact that this is still an excellently written book. If you have read any of Lindsay's other books and enjoyed them go ahead and pick this one up as well. You won't regret it.