Review of Flesh And Fire by Laura Anne Gilman

Flesh and Fire (The Vineart War, #1)

From acclaimed bestselling author Laura Anne Gilman comes a unique and enthralling new story of fantasy and adventure, wine and magic, danger and hope....

Once, all power in the Vin Lands was held by the prince-mages, who alone could craft spellwines, and selfishly used them to increase their own wealth and influence. But their abuse of power caused a demigod to break the Vine, shattering the power of the mages. Now, fourteen centuries later, it is the humble Vinearts who hold the secret of crafting spells from wines, the source of magic, and they are prohibited from holding power.

But now rumors come of a new darkness rising in the vineyards. Strange, terrifying creatures, sudden plagues, and mysterious disappearances threaten the land. Only one Vineart senses the danger, and he has only one weapon to use against it: a young slave. His name is Jerzy, and his origins are unknown, even to him. Yet his uncanny sense of the Vinearts' craft offers a hint of greater magics within -- magics that his Master, the Vineart Malech, must cultivate and grow. But time is running out. If Malech cannot teach his new apprentice the secrets of the spellwines, and if Jerzy cannot master his own untapped powers, the Vin Lands shall surely be destroyed.

In Flesh and Fire, first in a spellbinding new trilogy, Laura Anne Gilman conjures a story as powerful as magic itself, as intoxicating as the finest of wines, and as timeless as the greatest legends ever told.

My thoughts on this book:

The premise and idea was interesting. Spellbound wine in a world in which there seems to be three major groups: Vinearts (who control the wine, the spells, and answer to no one), the Princes (who think the Vinearts and the Washers should answer to them but understand the command) and The Washers (who seem to be priestly beings ensuring moral behaviors and that the Sin Washer's commands are upheld). Very creative, a fantasy about magical wine. I love it! As a person who loves wine.... I was game!

Sadly, this book didn't maintain my interest and I REALLY had to force myself to finish it. It isn't because it is badly written, it's not at all. It's because it seemed dry, dull, and I felt absolutely ZERO connection to any of the key characters until the last quarter of the book. The first half of the book was so disconnected to the characters that when Jerzy and Master Malech start working together, I could care less that the Slave was being primed to become a vineart due to his natural skills. The characters had nearly zero personality, except for near the end. I have an idea that the next book in this series will have more focus on Jerzy, the student Vineart, Ao, the trader, and Mahault, the daughter of the lord maiar who wants to be a soldier, as a trio.

I can not say I glowingly recommend this book, however, I also can't say I don't recommend it. I am very indifferent. It was dry, like a mediocre merlot. The author's writing style is beautiful and descriptive and I believe that the Vineart War can definitely grow into a magical series. I certainly am willing to try the second book when it comes out with hopes it will have much more intrigue and less blandness then it's premiere.

An ENORMOUS thank you to Pocket Books for providing a copy of "Flesh and Fire" for review!

disclaimer: I do not receive financial compensation for any of my reviews. I do however from time to time receive complimentary advanced review books that are of no monetary value to read and post HONEST reviews, positive and negative. The acceptance of a book does not guarantee a positive review, it just guarantees a review.


  1. Obviously I have been seeing this book around today and for the most part the reviews seem to be mixed. I am most impressed with the origionality of the premise though and will give the book a try when I see it in a store. Thanks for the honest review.

  2. Hi Ryan,

    I agree with the originality! It's definitely original and unique in it's own right, that's for sure! That's why I jumped all over it. I will say that if you can push through the first 2/3, the last 1/3 is pretty decent! I have a feeling that the next book will have more personality, action and a faster pace, at least I hope so!

    Thank you!

  3. Hmmm...I have been thinking that I may want to read this book. I am wondering though knowing that it did not maintain your interest but most especially since you did not feel you connected with the characters. Who knows though, I may like it as the premise does intrigue me.
    Thanks for you review. I am always glad to read a review that gives a differing opinion (i.e. - does not like the book).

  4. I just read this book, and I loved it. The mix of real wine lore and fantasy was well done. I felt connected to the characters as well. Different strokes for different folks.


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