Top positive review
Clever mix of episodic and sequential storytelling elements
Reviewed in the United States on November 23, 2020
Due to a ton of favorable reviews by readers and getting besieged by fans of Val, Zav and the gang (myself included) to write more stories in this world, Lindsay Buroker announced some months back she would write three more stories, a trilogy focusing on the secrets of Val’s magical, dwarven-forged blade.
Although book 6 of the Death Before Dragon series, Storm Forged, had sort of concluded the story arc by getting the dragon conflict resolved and Zav finally moving in with Val, the series was kind of open ended and I, like many people, wanted to know how life would be now that the two main characters have found their HEA. Secrets of the Sword seemlessly picks up the story a few months later. I feel this is possible because of the clever way Buroker structures her books, by having just the right mix of episodic and sequential story telling elements. Each installment is a self-contained story, usually a job Val takes on as government contractor, while in the background we have this tapestry of quirky and endearing supporting characters that are associated with Val, personal growth/character development of the main protagonists (with the help of a therapist) and an overarching story. Also, Buroker never resorts to the trick that so many authors seem to employ these days of having her books end on a cliffhanger; each episode concludes in a way that we get at least some closure and aren’t left hanging.
This installment starts in the expected way with Val accepting a contract from her military liaison and boss/friend Colonel Willard. It seems pretty easy: investigate and deal with a magical artifact that is poisoning the local wildlife in a cranberry field. Only when Val tries to destroy the sinister artifact with her sword, the blade gets contaminated and henceforth acts as a beacon for all magical creatures. She soon is beset by all kinds of riff-raff from the magical world as well as by a dangerous assassin who taxes her not inconsiderable skills.
On the personal front things seem to be looking up; she is developing a relationship with her daughter and happily co-habitating with her dragon. But Zav realizes that although he has marked Val as his mate only those with magic can see the bond, which excludes all humans without a trace of magic. So he takes it into his head that he wants to make their bond obvious to humans, too, and learns that in order to do that he needs to put a ring on her finger (but where to find a ring suitable for the mate of a mighty dragon such as himself?) Once again, things turn out a bit different than Val plans (as far as we can call Val’s spur-of-the-moment schemes plans), but the journey there is as always exciting and entertaining…