Flesh and Fire
Laura Anne Gilman
Pocket, Oct 2009, $26.00
Jerzy was a vineyard slave, who shockingly can perform the magic of the Vinearts who are the greatest mages. They create the spellwines from grapes. The Vinearts had in their way become somewhat arrogant as they forgot their roots fourteen centuries ago when Sin Washer overthrew the most powerful Prince-mages. Still Jerzy becomes an apprentice to the Master of the House of Malech. However, soon after Jerzy changes positions, someone begins destroying the grape vines of the prominent but cloistered winemakers. Jerzy and the Master begin to investigate who would be destroying a way of life.
They begin to find proof that the culprit is a master magician on a par with the most experienced of the Vinearts. Soon afterward, Jerzy and the Master are in a fight for their lives with their lifestyle at stake from a potent magician who turns the fields into the grapes of wrath.
The use of grape vines as the source of magic makes for an invigorating refreshing fantasy that will have the audience toasting Laura Anne Gilman for her vino veritas thriller. The cast is super especially Jerzy, his Master and, a young still houseless Master; they and others make FLESH AND FIRE an intoxicating read as the war of the grapes begins.