Reviews tagging 'Colonisation'

A Broken Blade by Melissa Blair

31 reviews

melissaslibraryy's review

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adventurous dark emotional mysterious reflective tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

Wow wow wowwww! I had no idea what to expect from this book since I only picked up the audiobook on Libby for being a fantasy romance (without reading the blurb) but it beat every expectation I had. I assumed it was YA, so imagine my surprise when the characters started cussing in some parts and there was even some spice (though they didn’t go all the way). I love that it was a high stakes fantasy that didn’t shy away from the violence and gore especially since most of it was done by our badass female lead. As for the romance, I’m not mad about the person who was “The Shadow” being predictable bc it leads to an amazing enemies to lovers situation filled with tension due to their forced proximity (and even the “single bed” trope😉.)
Spoiler The ending may have also been a bit obvious with its plot twist but it left off at a good cliffhanger, so I can’t wait to pick up the next book!

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wy_'s review against another edition

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adventurous dark medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.75

So I happened to fall terribly ill right after I bought this book, which gave me ample amount of time to sit down and read (which usually never happens). This book went by so fast, I didn't even realize I was done until I started reading the Acknowledgements. 

The world building was fascinating, and I love a lot of the choices made by including themes of colonization, passing, and genocide. Unfortunately the weakest part of this fantasy romance happened to be the romance, which heavily detracts from this otherwise addicting book.

I wanted to love Riven and Keera, but they're relationship felt forced. There was never quite enough yearning between the two to make it feel like their relationship was building to something. And their coming together felt both too quick and too slow for what it's set up to be. There's definitely some elements that I can tell the author is saving for the sequel (although I can guess where it's going based off similar book premises), but overall their coming together didn't feel earned. With how their relationship ends in this first book, hopefully we'll get some more drama out of it in the sequel, but we'll see.

Either way, this definitely scratched the itch I had for a good fantasy romance, and I'm super  excited to read the sequel. 

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booksalacarte's review against another edition

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adventurous challenging dark emotional funny hopeful inspiring mysterious sad tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

3.5

A Broken Blade- 3.5⭐️ 2.5🌶️


Keera is a killer. As the King’s Blade, she is the most talented spy in the kingdom. And the King’s favored assassin. When a mysterious figure called the Shadow starts making moves against the Crown, Keera is forced to hunt the masked menace down.

She crosses into the magical lands of the Fae, trying to discern if her enemy is Mortal, Elf, or a Halfling like her. But the Faeland is not what it seems, and neither is the Shadow. Keera is shocked by what she discovers and can’t help but wonder who her enemy truly is…

The King that destroyed her people? The Prince that tortures them? Or the Shadow that threatens her place at court?

As she searches for answers, Keera is haunted by a promise she made long ago. A promise not only to save herself but an entire kingdom.

✨My Opinion✨

The cover is beautiful! The iridescent is so fitting for the mystery of an assassin.

The FMC is an alcoholic, so be aware of that being actively described throughout the book. She also self-harms. It brings a severity to her character that is heavy and hard to get past. 

The book takes a look at the genocide of a race of Elves and a war brewing beneath the surface. Characters are multidimensional from the start. The foreshadowing was great and I really enjoyed the characters.

Morally grey FMC
Chosen one
Female assassin
Enemies to lovers
Forced proximity
One horse
One bed
Who did that to you
Betrayal
Bi rep

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kowhaiii's review against another edition

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adventurous dark emotional mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

This was a great book! I loved Keera and her struggles throughout the story. I found her relationships alright, but somewhat stale at times. Wasn't a huge fan of the ending, but I'll have to wait for the sequel to really decide! Loved the diversity and queer representation in this book. I really couldn't fault the world, premise, or character concepts if I tried!

A Broken Blade was a brilliant debut novel with wonderful world building and memorable characters. I have many unanswered questions in the best and worst ways, and I can't wait for the series to continue! :D

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dragonwriter's review

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adventurous challenging dark mysterious slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.0

“A Broken Blade” by Melissa Blair is a standard adult fantasy, with semi-slow pacing though it kept my attention pretty well.
Keera is a halfling, half elf, half human, and halflings belong to the king.  Males are sent to work hard labor, females are trained as assassins. Keera has been the King’s Blade, his chief assassin, for thirty years, using her position to protect other halflings or smuggle them to safety, but it isn’t enough. She’s still haunted by the lives she was ordered to snuff, forced to serve a king who doesn’t care about her people. Do when she’s ordered to eliminate the rebel Shade, she instead sees an opportunity to save all halflings by eliminating the royal line instead. But to do that, she has to win the trust of people who only see her as the King’s Blade.
A standard enemies to lovers story, my favorite part was when Keera yelled at Riven and made him see the importance of leadership and the consequences of poor leadership. It was a powerful section that shone bright in a paint-by-the-numbers fantasy.

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bisexualwentworth's review against another edition

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adventurous fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

Disclaimer about how I read this book:
I bought the original self-published version back in 2021 and have a copy of that edition on my bookshelf. However, I ended up getting the traditionally published version as an ebook through the library, so all of my critiques are on the most polished version of the story, not the anonymous 2021 version.

I have a LOT of very lovely friends and mutuals who LOVE this book and for whom it means a lot. I am so happy that all of you have this book and that it gave you so much of value. I am also not going to hold back on any of my critiques simply because people I like and respect are going to disagree with them.

A Broken Blade by Melissa Blair is a quick, easy read. I breezed through it in a couple of days during my less-busy moments at work.

I've followed Blair on TikTok for several years, and I appreciate a lot of what she was trying to do with this book. In particular, she aimed to breathe diversity and an indigenous perspective into the very white-dominated (and frequently very racist) fantasy romance genre. I think she mostly succeeded in that goal.

I enjoyed some of the dialogue, and several characters had interesting moments. Killian was probably the most compelling character for me, but I also look forward to seeing more of Syrra and several others.

Blair's creation of the Shades was clearly inspired by a deeply personal knowledge of colonization and the horrors it inflicts on indigenous women in particular, and I look forward to a deeper exploration of their situation in the sequel.

The book is fast-paced, and the mystery is structured very competently, if also very obviously.

My first, and possibly biggest, issue with this book is the lack of depth to the world. I think that good fantasy writers ground their worlds in inspirations drawn from real-world cultures and real-world history. And this book has the IDEA of that inspiration, but it's not grounded in anything.

Basically, the entire aesthetic of this book is a renaissance faire. People wear corsets and cloaks and have leg slits in their dresses. I have no sense of the geography of this world beyond what is given in the map at the front. I have no sense of the agriculture or trade or economic system. I have no visuals of anything other than clothing, weapons, and some of the characters' faces. And I don't think that authors have to give us all of that, but it's very jarring to get these very in-depth descriptions of Keera's outfits and then have very little sense of the world at large.

"What if a basic fantasy world with a ren faire aesthetic was an evil colonialist power that enslaves and commits genocide against its magical creatures and we actually confronted that?" is a VERY compelling question to ask and a very compelling setup for a book. I just don't feel like A Broken Blade explores that question below the surface, and that's a problem that starts with the worldbuilding and continues through every single other aspect of the book.

I've heard many people point to Keera's character as a highlight of the book, and while I understand why other readers would like or relate to her, she simply did not work for me as a character. I did not feel like her alcoholism was handled very well. The balance of showing and telling was totally off (as with a lot of things in this book, honestly), and I felt like "oh yeah she takes this magical drug and it gets rid of her alcoholism and then her body looks better" was very much a cop-out of what could have been a fascinating and harrowing character arc about her struggles with addiction.

I honestly think Keera might have worked better as a third-person point-of-view character than she does as a first-person narrator. Her motivations all come to us in dialogue or in flashbacks, and a lot of her choices felt hollow to me because of that. Part of my frustration might be that I read this book shortly after The Unbroken by C. L. Clark, which features a main character who heartbreakingly deconstructs the colonialism that has shaped her upbringing and then does some really powerful things afterward, and maybe I was unfairly hoping for a similar arc for Keera, but regardless, Keera's choices and motivations fell flat.

And that is SO FRUSTRATING to me because, like I said earlier, the Shades are SO CONCEPTUALLY COMPELLING, and there is so much potential to explore so many issues there, both through metaphor and through the implications that Melissa Blair has created in her own world. If only Keera ACTUALLY cared about the other Shades the way she claims to. If only the narrative afforded them the agency to make their own decisions or question their situation.

I truly felt like Keera cared more about NIkolai, someone she barely knows, than she does about the Shades, her own people. Yes, she SAYS that everything she does is for the Shades, but her actions say the opposite. 

My other big issue with this book is that it feels like it was constructed around popular tropes in order to have a marketable story—and that's because it was. It was written using tropes that BookTok loves so that BookTok would read it. And that's fine. But I can tell when I'm reading it that despite the author's passion about colonization and indigenous issues, this book was written less out of a desire to explore those themes in a fantasy setting (though that desire was certainly present) and more out of a desire to write something that would sell. That is a totally understandable motivation. We all have it, as writers. It just makes for a less compelling story with less substance to it.

Another issue I had with this book is that the way it talks about gender is very shallow. I think there's some sort of attempt at a critique of cisnormativity, but it's happening through the lens of fantasy metaphors, and it doesn't really work. Hopefully the sequel will either do a better job of exploring that issue or will ignore it completely.

Keera is bisexual and has a past relationship with a woman
Spoiler (though I hate that said queer woman was essentially fridged to further Keera's character development, and I would have been a lot less frustrated with that choice if there had been another sapphic couple on-page)
, and people who apparently read certain parts of the text more closely than I did assure me that several other characters (most of the main cast, in fact) are stated to be queer in some way as well (I somehow missed most of this, but I do trust my sources very much on this one). So it is a queer book. And the main romance is fun. I didn't care about it much because again, it felt like it was constructed more around the tropes than it was around what made sense for the characters, but I understand why other readers would like it, and I do look forward to seeing where it goes in the sequel.

A few weeks ago, I sent a pretty rough draft of the first couple chapters of a fantasy novel to beta readers, and a lot of the feedback I've gotten back is about the overall indistinctness of the world in those opening chapters. People aren't sure what's going on or what anything looks like. There's nothing tethering them to the world. There's nothing making them care. There are seeds of compelling ideas and maybe even compelling characters, but the thing itself is not yet compelling, or in fact very good.

This sort of feedback is not fun to get from people you like and respect. It hurts. Of course it does. Because in your mind, as the writer, as the creator of this world, the visuals sparkle. The ideas are THERE. The characters are fleshed out to perfection. But that's all in my head, and that's why I have those beta readers—to tell me what gaps they’re seeing, so that I can work on actually executing those ideas I have.

A Broken Blade reads like that first draft I sent out. The seeds of something compelling. Some moments that are genuinely interesting or good or fun. But it reads as though it never got serious content editing. Like the author didn't have someone look at it in the early stages and say, "I can't really visualize what this world looks like beyond some clear ren faire inspirations, and I feel like you're really interested in exploring these specific themes, but they’re not coming through in a very clear way."

And that's why I'm actually excited to read the sequel. Because maybe with more editing, not just of the text but of the CONTENT and the IDEAS and the WORLDBUILDING, this has the potential to be a story that I really enjoy and become really invested in. The execution just really was not there in this one.  

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sarahfmack's review against another edition

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adventurous dark medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

When starting this book, there was a lot of world building very fast. I enjoyed it, and once I knew the layout, it took off. 
<Spoiler>
Keera is complex and troubled. Her coping with alcoholism is raw and rarely something I read in a fantasy novel. 
Even the way her withdrawal played out was gritty and long. 

Her relationships with the other halflings and her new comrads don't start out smooth and happy. 

Melissa showed the indoctrination of the halflings, and the conflict they felt serving and being a part of the very court that wants them destroyed is nuanced and very VERY real. 
She shows the way Halflings have lost a part of their identity, many not knowing where they come from. Which is such a painful and beautiful allegory for what many Indigenous and Black people in America have dealt with because of colonization and slavery. </Spoiler>

I want more of this story as soon as possible. Kthanks.


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atthelibrarywithmegan's review against another edition

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adventurous dark emotional hopeful mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

This was such an incredible story. There is so much mystery in the  beginning and you think you’ve figured it out by the end. Then, BAM! I’m pretty sure my eyes almost popped out of my head with that cliffhanger. I love the slow burn, the enemies to lovers, secret underground network, and the bringing down the monarchy themes/tropes. I also really love that Keera isn’t a 16-20 year old FMC. She feels much more relatable. I cannot wait for book two!

TW: Alcoholism, self harm, murder, blood, colonization, racism.

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alilab14's review against another edition

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adventurous challenging dark emotional hopeful informative inspiring reflective sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.75

This is written by an Indigenous Women (Anishinaabe-kwe) and this fantasy world has some Indigenous influences into its story. So Keera reflects the damages from colonialism and intergenerational trauma that Indigenous people still face. The main character suffers from alcohol abuse and self harm and after reading others reviews, from assuming non-Indigenous reviewers, I will like to say an an Indigenous reader this is not written to be harmful or romanticized but actually very hopeful and I’m very glad Melissa gave Keera a very deeply human internal battle. But I will also say it is hard to read so if you may be sensitive to these topics, especially if you have been affected by colonialism, question  if you can read it, but Keeras journey is full of hope. There is a content warning in the front of book and on this website 

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cassandramt17's review against another edition

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adventurous dark emotional reflective tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0


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