A few years ago, Laura Anne Gilman mentioned a high concept she’d come up with for a new series–a fantasy world in which wine was the carrying vessel for magics. I was *completely* taken with the idea, not in an “I want to write it” sense, but very much in an “I want to read it” sense, and I watched and waited with enthusiastic impatience while she pitched and sold the idea and began to write it. And because I Know People In High Places (ie, the writer), I got an advance copy of the manuscript earlier this year, and got to read the book months ago.
It was every bit as well executed as I’d hoped. The main character, Jerzy, is a slave in his master’s vineyards who proves to have an affinity for the vine. Through Jerzy, we learn the magic of the world (and root for him has he gets in over his head). Laura Anne has done an absolutely gorgeous job of creating a system that’s completely unique, totally fascinating, and wholly understandable. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a magic system I’ve liked more.
The pacing of the book is entirely different from her urban fantasy, as it should be. This is a single story unwinding over three novels, with a cast of many (if not quite thousands); the payoffs are in watching a boy and a world adapt and change, not in zingy one-liners and quick wit (though you get some of that as well). I was very, very pleased with FLESH & FIRE, and would like to give Laura Anne a little cheer (yay!) for Book Release Day today. :)
You can read an excerpt and buy it online at Laura Anne’s website, or, y’know, hit a local bookstore and snatch up your copy instantaneously. :)