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Black Blade Blues (Sarah Beauhall Series #1) [NOOK Book]

Overview


Sarah Beauhall has more on her plate than most twenty-somethings: day job as a blacksmith, night job as a props manager for low-budget movies, and her free time is spent fighting in a medieval re-enactment group.

The lead actor breaks Sarah’s favorite one-of-a-kind sword, and to avoid reshooting scenes, Sarah agrees to repair the blade. One of the extras, who claims to be a dwarf, offers to help. And that’s when things start to get weird. Could the sword really be ...

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Black Blade Blues (Sarah Beauhall Series #1)

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Overview


Sarah Beauhall has more on her plate than most twenty-somethings: day job as a blacksmith, night job as a props manager for low-budget movies, and her free time is spent fighting in a medieval re-enactment group.

The lead actor breaks Sarah’s favorite one-of-a-kind sword, and to avoid reshooting scenes, Sarah agrees to repair the blade. One of the extras, who claims to be a dwarf, offers to help. And that’s when things start to get weird. Could the sword really be magic, as the "dwarf" claims? Are dragons really living among us as shapeshifters? 

And as if things weren’t surreal enough, Sarah’s girlfriend Katie breaks out the dreaded phrase… “I love you.”  As her life begins to fall apart, first her relationship with Katie, then her job at the movie studio, and finally her blacksmithing career, Sarah hits rock bottom. It is at this moment, when she has lost everything she has prized, that one of the dragons makes their move.

And suddenly what was unthinkable becomes all too real…and Sarah will have to decide if she can reject what is safe and become the heroine who is needed to save her world.


At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.


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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Pitts brings Norse mythology into the modern world in this amusing debut. Blacksmith, props master, and semicloseted ex-Christian lesbian Sarah Beauhall is struggling to master her craft, push aside her self-loathing, and make time for her girlfriend. Unfortunately for Sarah, not only is her favorite sword actually Gram, the fabled blade that once slew the dragon Fafnir, but an affably evil shape-shifting dragon and the semisenile Corpse Gnawer are coming to take it from her. Sarah soon finds her romantic life in shambles and her jobs under siege as she struggles to comprehend the responsibility that she has been handed. The final battle is twice as long as it should be and some of the coincidences are painfully contrived, but there's enough entertainment and romantic tension to keep readers interested in the planned sequels. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
In his debut, Pitts delivers the first installment of a new urban-fantasy series set in modern-day Washington state. Sarah Beauhall has an unusual occupation for an urban-fantasy protagonist: She's a 26-year-old blacksmith who makes and repairs swords, sometimes for low-budget film productions. While working as a prop master on a movie called Elvis Versus the Goblins, she's approached by a man who later claims to be a Norse dwarf-despite being six feet tall. He's interested in a black sword she'd bought years ago. The ancient sword's true name is Gram, he says, and it must be used to slay a dragon-specifically, a shape-shifting dragon currently taking the form of an investment banker. Before long, Sarah is drawn into a conflict, steeped in Norse mythology, which turns her world upside down. Overall, the novel is fairly standard dark urban fantasy, with some clever touches-including two Hummer-driving giants named Ernie and Bert-and some decent action scenes. That said, Pitts's decision to haphazardly jump between first- and third-person narration feels amateurish, and his long passages devoted to Sarah's romantic angst can be slow going. One out-of-left-field scene, involving a drunken Sarah and two guys at a bar, is particularly off-putting. A very uneven debut that may nonetheless appeal to some urban-fantasy fans.
From the Publisher
“Pitts combines Norse mythology, smith-lore and a deep love of the Pacific Northwest in this fast-paced urban fantasy about dragons posing as investment bankers, Hummer-driving giants, and the woman who must defeat them while fighting her own demons of doubt and self-identity. A fresh look at some classic themes, Black Blade Blues will delight readers seeking the thrill of fantasy amid the everyday reality of overdue bills, bad traffic, and ancient plots to overthrow the order of the world.”—Jay Lake, author of Escapement

“Pitts is an exciting new voice on the fantasy scene. Black Blade Blues takes the reader on a rollicking adventure full of pathos and humor.  It’s a sweet combination of classic fantasy and today’s complex urban world.  Be sure to read this exhilarating debut novel.”—  Brenda Cooper, award-winning author of The Silver Ship and the Sea and Reading the Wind

“Sarah Beauhall is half girl, half warrior, and all attitude.  She's a skilled blacksmith who discovers a sword of great power, and finds herself in a battle against an ancient dragon, with dwarves and giants and trolls on every side, fighting to preserve her very way of life.  In the midst of everything, and against the mystical backdrop that is today's Pacific Northwest, Sarah's finding out just what that way of life is meant to be—and she's not sure it suits her.  Black Blade Blues is a fast-moving, action-packed story, one to please all readers of urban fantasy."—Louise Marley, author of The Singers of Nevya

Library Journal
Sarah Beauhall is a busy gal—she's an apprentice blacksmith by day, with a second job as a movie props master. Her free time is divided between practicing skirmishes with her Society for Creative Anachronism buddies and her girlfriend, Katie, who takes all the old myths about dwarves, dragons, and war very seriously. Good thing someone is plugged in, because Sarah soon finds herself defending the Pacific Northwest from an actual dragon, using newfound Thor-like strength and a sword last seen in Odin's time. This new urban fantasy series is a fast-moving blend of sword and sorcery, Norse mythology, low-budget movie making, and contemporary identity seeking. The story works for the most part, though it gets bogged down by Sarah's never-ending low self-esteem and her struggle with accepting her sexuality, while the graphic battle scenes sometimes jar with the flip tone that leavens the rest of the novel. VERDICT For fans of fantasy mixed with real-world problems and settings who will enjoy a young heroine coming to terms with who she is as a woman and a warrior.—Devon Thomas, DevIndexing, Chelsea, MI
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429935296
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 4/27/2010
  • Series: Sarah Beauhall Series , #1
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 198,499
  • File size: 454 KB

Meet the Author


J. A. PITTS is a graduate of the Oregon Coast Writers Workshops and holds degrees in English and Library Science. Black Blade Blues is the first in a fantasy series featuring Sarah Beauhall.


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Read an Excerpt

One

THE WARRIOR KING STOOD ATOP THE HILL, THE LIGHT OF A new dawn cresting behind him. His pompadour, tall and proud as a cockscomb, blocked the sun, casting his face in shadow. Tiny shafts of light sprayed from the crystals adorning his glowing white armor. The ebony blade he held above his head drank in the light, casting a halo around his upraised hands.

“I declare this land free from oppression,” he called. His voice rang. “I claim this, my birthright: this sword, made from the shattered horn of Memphisto, and handed down to me from my father, and from his father before him. With this I cast the goblins from this land.”

He swung the sword to drag it across the rocky crag and shower sparks down upon the goblin horde at his feet.

Instead, I watched the sword strike the ferrocrete stage and snap. Fully one-third of the blade ricocheted toward the goblins, who scattered, squealing.

Actors are so stupid—not supposed to actually hit the stage. That’s what special effects are for.

“Cut!” Carl called. Carl was the director.

JJ flung the sword to the ground, sending the goblins into full retreat. “Stupid, useless props!”

The overhead lights came up, and the soundstage appeared, shattering the image of a vengeful King of Rock and Roll and his mighty sword of doom.

I love my job.

“Everybody take fifteen,” Carl said into his megaphone. “Sarah, do not kill the actors.”

Several of the stagehands chuckled and cast sideways glances my way. I counted to ten. Honest I did. At least seven, I’m almost positive.

Seventeen extras in horrid rubber goblin suits began to waddle out to the lot, lighting cigarettes, their large costume heads under their arms.

I stormed over to JJ. “You idiot! You aren’t supposed to actually hit the stage.”

“Damn thing’s too freaking heavy,” he whined. “Can’t we use a lighter prop? Maybe one that doesn’t break?”

I knelt down, looking at the pieces. For a moment, I wanted to pummel JJ with the flat of the blade. I’d only likely bruise him. Likely.

Behind me, Carl sighed. “Do we have another black sword?”

“No,” I said. Here goes a second career down the toilet.

“Well, it’s too damn heavy,” JJ groused. “Maybe you can make one out of Styrofoam or something.”

I just stared at the back of his sweaty, overstyled head as he sauntered toward the gaggle of women waiting along the back of the soundstage.

With a sigh, I picked the sword up firmly by the handle. The broken blade lay forlornly on the rocks. It was a bad break, snapping midway to the tip. Be a bitch to repair this one. Reforging a sword was tricky business.

I do the blacksmithing thing for a living, so I had some idea what I was talking about. Being prop manager here was my night gig.

Not like I’d planned this life. I took welding in high school, and loved working with metal. I went to college to get away from my family—well, mainly my father—but didn’t find any satisfaction in it. Da was convinced I’d come home after college and fit the mold he wanted.

The blacksmithing school I went to saved my life, frankly. My father wanted me to get married and squeeze out half a dozen puppies, be a good homemaker, adore my husband, go to church. . . . I’d rather gouge my eyes out.

My farrier school gave me a reference to Julie Hendrickson, the blacksmith master I work for. She’s supercool, but the pay doesn’t cover all my bills. Student loans really add up.

I found the movie gig by accident. Carl hassled me at a local science fiction convention. He thought it was cool I was a blacksmith. We chatted—ended up he made movies, needed someone who was creative at making things, and here I am.

My two careers meshed together pretty well. Julie had no problem letting me use the forge after hours as long as I covered the expenses and cleaned up when I was done. Tonight’s wages would cover fixing the black blade, and maybe help me afford to make a few more for the upcoming conventions.

Cons were a good place to sell weapons. Everyone who showed up wanted to be a hero, or be rescued by one. I was only too obliged to support the fantasy. Whatever made people happy, ya know? Of course, I’d be on my own for this effort. Julie was a farrier, and a good teacher, but her weapon skills sucked.

Which was a shame, actually. You could make a decent amount of scratch if you had made good weapons or armor. There was always someone willing to buy a cheap sword, but the real money was in the collectors and the cosplay folks. They liked the real thing. Costume players—cosplay. Anyway. They wanted to look the coolest, have the best accessories. I did my level best to fill that niche. Most shows had crappy knockoff weapons made in Pakistan, so I had a market.

But this sword, my black beauty, she was a special blade, not some beater we used in the Society or used to play dress-up. The Society for Creative Anachronism folks would never risk their precious weapons like this. Reenactors were crazy authentic, and treated their gear better than their spouses in some cases. The group I ran with—Black Briar—they were on the normal end of loony. Still, they thought I was nuts to risk a blade of this quality on a movie shoot.

Maybe they were right. I never should’ve risked the black sword here with ham-fisted JJ.

I carried the broken blade into the props cage and gently placed the pieces into the crushed velvet nest I’d hand-built for it. Who knew the case was better constructed than the blade?

“We won’t need that sword again for a few days,” Carl said, walking up behind me. “Why don’t you take tomorrow off, see if you can repair it?”

Closing the case, I snapped the latches and hefted it up by the handle. “I’ll do what I can,” I said, smiling at him. “Plus, there’s an antique auction in Seattle tomorrow. I’m hoping to get over and see if they have anything interesting.”

Carl laughed. “You’re quite the weapons nerd, Beauhall.”

I stuck my chin up, tilting my head to the side. “You making fun of me, boss?”

He stepped back, hands in front of him, palms out, laughing. “God, no. I would never tease a blacksmith. I mean, with arms like yours . . .” He trailed off. “And any woman who collects swords, no chance.” He gave me his best Boy Scout grin. “Too many sharp pointy things to be concerned about.”

I smiled. He was cute, in a baby-faced sort of way. Not a bad director, either. More Ed Wood than Woody Allen, but his films didn’t make me want to hurl. “All right, boss. I’ll see you on Wednesday then?”

“You’ll be bringing me a new ebony blade?”

“We’re still doing wide-angle shots?”

“Yes, close-up shots aren’t until next weekend.”

“Okay, I’ll have something you can use.”

He grinned, but said nothing further.

I gave him a moment. “So, I’m not fired?”

“Not today.”

“Great,” I said. “We’ll see how Tuesday goes.”

Jennifer, the DP, came over shaking her head, complaining about the lighting. She was one of those high-maintenance photography directors who was worth every minute of time she sucked out of Carl. She’d have him tied up forever. The hangdog look on his face as I snuck away almost made me feel sorry for him.

Thing about Carl’s films: most of the shoots happened after hours because nearly everyone had a day job, just to make ends meet. Tonight’s was no exception. I had arrived here in Everett’s industrial area, north of Seattle, around six forty after a hard day at the smithy. A quick shower at home, some decent clothes that didn’t smell like smoke, and a drive-thru meal in me—I was good to go.

Carl worked a deal with the city to keep costs low so we shot from seven until midnight on good nights. Tonight was not a good night.

Excerpted from Black Blade Blues by J.A. Pitts.
Copyright © 2010 by John A. Pitts.
Published in May 2010 by Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 41 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 41 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    humorous entertaining Norse fantasy

    In the Seattle, Washington area Sarah Beauhall works as a blacksmith and budget movies props guru. In between, instead of sleeping with her girlfriend Katie who frightens her with words of love, she is a medieval warrior reenactor. During a filming of Elvis versus the Goblins, her favorite unique sword is broken. To avoid costly delay, she agrees to repair the blade; a dwarf working as a goblin extra on the set offers to assist her.

    The sword turns out to be the legendary Gram, which Nordic legend says Sigurd used to slay the dragon Fafnir; at least that is what her new "assistant" claims. However, evidence is on the way as a evil shape-shifting dragon and the Corpse Gnawer are coming to take Gram from Sarah, anyway they can.

    This is a humorous entertaining Norse fantasy in twenty-first century Washington State. The fast-paced story line is action-packed as mythology and modernism converge on the heroine who holds the tale together as she struggles with shapeshifting dragons and other evil essences as well as with her relationship with Katie. Although too much circumstances occurs, readers will enjoy Black Blade Blues starting with the gender debate of the black sword Gram.

    Harriet Klausner

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Smells like teen angst

    Reading the free sample interested me enough to buy it. Then I was unable to finish. The core of the story is interesting enough (dwarves, dragons, smithing, etc.), but the main character drones on and on for pages about her relationship troubles. Tried skipping past that, but there was too much angst in the way to find the good parts.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2013

    Hot Lesbian Blacksmith Action

    LOL. Ok really the book is another in the modern fantasy genre that I have found myself drawn to in recent days. For all those Jim Butcher fans or Glen Cook fans out there this will seem like a slower book for you as the main character is not already aware of the nature of her world so it takes her longer to get to the supernatural action but when she does there is blood and fighting and action and dragon slaying and to be fair that all takes place in the last fourth of the book.
    Some of the other reviews I read seemed to criticize her relationship whining and drama but for this being the first book in the series I gave the character more latitude as I get to know her and get a feel for what is important to her. That being said yes she does have some depression and drama going on but I felt it was all legitimate from her point of view.
    For all those who are looking simply for lesbian fantasy erotica this is not that book. She is a lesbian and she does get her freak on but it is all superfluous to the story and there are no huge sapphic free for alls and as far as lesbians go she is really more of a newbie who is not entirely comfortable yet even though she knows who she is so let that inform your buying decision and give the book a chance.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2012

    Interesting concept, and the cover and blurb were exquisite, but

    Interesting concept, and the cover and blurb were exquisite, but the execution left a lot to be desired. This was supposed to be Urban Fantasy. This was more an angst-drivenrelationship twaddle, and the character of Sarah Beauhall was unsympathetic. I was left with the feeling that i just didn't care if she reconciled her relationship issues or won the day, and the huge amount of stereotypes were .. rather blah.

    It was boring. The glimmers of humor, wit and cool ideas just couldn't overcome the repetitious self-hating monologues. The only characters I ended up caring for where some of the secondary characters, the main group of protagonists, I just didn't like.

    Although I will say that the Valkyries, they totally rocked.

    Erika S.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2012

    Enjoyable

    An interesting twist on dragons, swords and sorcery.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2012

    Pretty awsome

    Well written and imagenative the characters feel real

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 17, 2011

    Hope the next one cmes out soon

    I thoroughly enoyed this book. Good strong protagonist and plenty of suspence and action. I have been looking for the sequel for some time now.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2013

    Love it

    Its hard to find books with fantasy and a lead female. I love this series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2013

    Mrrow!

    STOP ASSASINS NOW! BEFORE THEY TAKE OVER THE CAT WORLD! NOW!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2013

    Bay and skykit

    They chased each other in layghing. "Finally!!"

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2013

    DIRECTORY

    RESULT ONE-----> DIRECTORY
    RESULT TWO----> BIOS
    RESULT THREE---> MAIN CAMP

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2013

    All the kits

    They ran in.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2013

    Awesome

    Great heroine and wonderful support characters. The author really does the research. The author also has created a world that is believable and easy to get lost in.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2011

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 41 Customer Reviews

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