RogerBW's Blog

Sweep of the Blade, Ilona Andrews 08 January 2020

2019 short SF novel in the Innkeeper series. Dina's sister Maud turned down a marriage proposal from the vampire Lord Arland, but she's travelling to his homeworld anyway…

While these books are sold as urban fantasy, and the previous ones have had something of a blend of fantasy and science fiction, this one's definitely on the SF side. If you don't know the setting, just read "vampire" as "Klingon" and you won't be wildly wrong; in this world they're all about being honourable warriors, not cursed blood-drinkers who fear the sun. There's one instance in this book of actual magic, but call it psychic powers and it's less than many explicitly-SF books try to get away with.

This book is, admittedly, a bit of a wallow. The basic structure is that Maud is presented with a problem, either by the vampire community that's not happy to see its favourite son involved with a mere human, or by the other vampires who are getting the major clan to host their diplomatic wedding and are very clearly up to something. (But throwing them out without proof would be dishonourable, of course…) She rises to the challenge, and triumphs. Repeat. For me at least there was never any sense that Maud was at risk, or unlikely to pass a test.

But the changes within that repeated structure are what makes the thing a bit more interesting. Why did Maud turn down the proposal, and how is she planning to remedy the situation? Just what are those other vampire clans up to, in a bit more detail than "no good", and how can it be stopped?

It also helps that, as in the Kate Daniels series, the basic paradigm is of grown-ups who talk to each other. Maud learns something that's not probative but certainly indicative about what the enemy are up to; she passes it on to Arland. Arland doesn't dismiss it, he takes it seriously, and gives her some more information that he's just learned, then they put their information together and talk it over as a team. These are people whom one can believe in as a couple once the initial wave of lust has worn off.

There's also Helen the Killer Moppet, though she doesn't get to do much killing. Ah well. She has the right attitude.

This is in a very different style from the Innkeeper novels and it might even stand on its own, though it's worth having read at least One Fell Sweep before this.

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Previous in series: One Fell Sweep | Series: Innkeeper Chronicles | Next in series: Sweep With Me

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