ARC Review: The Fireborne Blade by Charlotte Bond

Today’s review is about THE FIREBORNE BLADE by Charlotte Bond. It’s the first novella in The Fireborne Blade series. However, it reads as a standalone. In this first installment, Maddileh, a female knight, embarks on a quest to claim back her favor with the King. To do so she chooses the dangerous goal of retrieving the Fireborne Blade from the legendary White Lady dragon.

Author: Charlotte Bond
Series: The Fireborne Blade, #1
Age Category: Adult
Publisher: Tordotcom
Publish Date: May 28, 2024
Print Length: 176

Want to support local bookstores? Buy a copy of The Fireborne Blade on!*

*These are not affiliate links and I do not make a commission from any purchase made using these links.

Official Synopsis

Kill the dragon. Find the blade. Reclaim her honor.

It’s that, or end up like countless knights before her, as a puddle of gore and molten armor.

Maddileh is a knight. There aren’t many women in her line of work, and it often feels like the sneering and contempt from her peers is harder to stomach than the actual dragon slaying. But she’s a knight, and made of sterner stuff.

A minor infraction forces her to redeem her honor in the most dramatic way possible, she must retrieve the fabled Fireborne Blade from its keeper, legendary dragon the White Lady, or die trying. If history tells us anything, it’s that “die trying” is where to wager your coin.

Maddileh’s tale contains a rich history of dragons, ill-fated knights, scheming squires, and sapphic love, with deceptions and double-crosses that will keep you guessing right up to its dramatic conclusion. Ultimately, The Fireborne Blade is about the roles we refuse to accept, and of the place we make for ourselves in the world.

My Review

I received a free, digital, advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. My review is my own and reflects my honest opinion about this book.

THE FIREBORNE BLADE appears to be the first novella in a series of its namesake. It jumps between recorded history, the recent past, and the present to tell the tale of Maddileh, a female knight in a man’s world. After being scorned by her lover and publicly shaming herself, she embarks on a quest to retrieve the Fireborne Blade from the White Lady, a powerful dragon. In doing so she hopes this difficult task will place her back in the King’s favor.

Given the fact that Maddileh is a female knight in a patriarchal society, it’s no surprise she experiences misogyny. She feels comfortable in her chosen role as a knight, but this clearly breaks with gendered job role norms and makes men uncomfortable. This sexism is also present among mages, or those with magic in their blood who train to access and use it. Society deems that only men can become mages. I appreciated this aspect of THE FIREBORNE BLADE, which creates some depth in the story. It’s not just a tale about a knightly quest to kill a dragon. It also makes a point to highlight the inequality between men and women.

I also liked the bits of history included every few chapters. The author includes accounts of dragon or dragon-dead (ghosts) encounters to provide the reader with a better understanding of the world of dragons and mages. I liked how the tone changes with these chapters to one that felt more academic and detached. However, I also felt these chapters were unnecessary. What the reader learns from them could have been described by the characters during the present-day quest. It almost felt like an exhibition to show that yes, there is more to this world, but there was some uncertainty about how to weave it into the actual story. As a result it felt a little jumbled and disjointed. The story itself is rather fast paced, but the jumping between academic history and Maddileh’s own recent past slowed it down.

The official synopsis also mentions the inclusion of sapphic love. I would categorize it more as brief spurts of desire. There is no romance, only a recognition that Maddileh has a physical attraction to a woman so that the readers knows Maddileh is bisexual. Fantasy romance lovers should look elsewhere. The focus is definitely on Maddileh’s quest to “redeem” herself in a male-run society.

Finally, I liked the plot twist, which gave some life and energy to THE FIREBORNE BLADE. Throughout the novella the reader can easily tell Maddileh’s squire has something to hide. But is it innocent or nefarious? I’m not one to include spoilers, so you’ll have to find out for yourself.

Overall, THE FIREBORNE BLADE is a fast-paced dragon tale for those who prefer less lore to wade through. Maddileh sticks to her clearly defined and uncomplicated goal: retrieve the Fireborne Blade from the White Lady. I feel that the history could have been interwoven more with the current quest. But the story as a whole will momentarily sate a reader’s desire for dragon-related content.

Rating: 3.5
Content warnings: blood, death, misogyny
Reading format: Kindle e-book

4 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Fireborne Blade by Charlotte Bond

    1. Thanks! I think there are more books to come in this series, too. It’s nice that it’s a novella. I love reading those when my other reading feels a bit chaotic haha.

  1. Oh yes this sounds awesome I definitely want to read it, great review!! I do prefer fantasy with a deep lore but sometimes just an adventure of a female knight is just what I need!

Leave a Reply