Flesh and Fire

Flesh and Fire: Book One of The Vineart War
by Laura Anne Gilman

I may have mentioned before that I love “food fiction,” stories that incorporate food or wine as a major part of the plot. Usually, those seem to be cozy mysteries or romances, which was why I was thrilled with the opportunity to review Flesh and Fire, a fantasy novel where magic and wine are intertwined. It sounded different, but definitely like something I would enjoy.

In the Vin Lands, only Vinearts make wine. They grow the grapes, press them and create both vin ordinaire and spellwines, wines that heal, change weather, make fire, and so on. However, something evil is happening in the lands; out of season illnesses are destroying vines, giant sea monsters are killing sailors, and at least one Vineart has disappeared. Who or what is causing this? One Vineart, Malech, and his student/slave, Jerzy, are determined to find out.

The world Gilman has created is fascinating. Each of the Vinearts has his own specialty, but, more important, each was originally a slave. Just like the vines he tends, each Vineart is strengthened by the stress he has gone through, but too much can destroy him. I loved all the information on growing the grapes and making the wine that was included, seamlessly, in the story.

The Vinearts are not to deal in politics, according to their religion, which plays an important part in the book. The “SinWasher” commanded the Vinearts to follow certain laws and there are traveling preachers determined to uphold those rules, but what other interests do they have?

Malech and Jerzy are wonderful characters, both flawed of course, but loyal and trying to do what is best.  The book is full of magic and power, danger and loyalty, hope and despair. It is an awesome start to a series.

That’s my one negative comment, though. It is quite obviously the first book in the trilogy. It sets up the world, the main characters and some of the prevailing conflicts, but there is not resolution at the end. We just know that Jerzy, with two friends, is off to discover the truth. So, now I’ll be waiting impatiently for a year for the next installment of the Vineart War.

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My copy was provided by the publisher for review and the above is my honest opinion. I am an Amazon Associate.