Lila Sterling was the daughter of a some time thief, some time bodyguard who was vacationing in the magical and mob-controlled city of Cloudburst Falls when they stumbled into a mob hit. Lila's mother intervened, saving the intended victims, but in return she ended up targeted and killed by the Family who ordered the attack. Orphaned and alone, Lila takes on her grandmother's maiden name of Merriweather and lives on the streets as a thief, picking the pockets of tourists to buy food and robbing homes in order to afford more expensive necessities.
Years after her mother's death, Lila visits her fence's pawnshop to deliver the take from her previous night's job when she gets caught up in another mob hit, which she ends up helping to fight off. A few days later, Lila is 'invited' to pay a call on the Family who she had intervened on behalf of at the pawnshop. Once there, Lila discovers a few unpleasant surprises.
The boy she had rescued in the pawnshop was Devon Sinclair, son and heir of Claudia Sinclair, head of the second most powerful Family in Cloudburst Falls - and the boy Lila's mother had been murdered for aiding. And his mother wanted to hire Lila to be his new bodyguard.
Books in the series include:
- Cold Burn of Magic
- Dark Heart of Magic
- Bright Blaze of Magic (Coming out May 2016)
Tropes found in this series include:
- Alliterative List: The top positions under Family Head are the Broker (In charge of business dealings), the Bruiser (In charge of the guards) and the Butler (In charge of the household proper).
- Big Eater: Lila's job with the Sinclairs comes with unlimited free board, and she makes the most of it.
- Black Swords Are Better: The Black Blades that the series is named after are rare, expensive, and absorb magic.
- Bodyguard Crush: Lila and Devon.
- Compelling Voice: Devon's magic.
- Department of Child Disservices: Lila was passed around a variety of foster homes of varying quality before she decided that she was better off on her own and started squatting in the basement of the public library.
- Does Not Like Spam: Lila and her mother were on an ice cream run when they ran into the attack on Devon, and Lila's mother later gets her to leave ahead of the Draconi's retaliation by sending her out for ice cream. Lila doesn't eat ice cream anymore because of the memories.
- Fantasy Gun Control: Guns are strictly outlawed in Cloudburst Falls, and the Families obey that law. This law exists not to control mob violence (Which carries on regardless), but to make the tourists happy. A Family enforcer in a suit with a gun looks intimidating. A Family enforcer in a Renfaire costume with a sword looks like part of the scenery.
- Hunting "Accident": Lila's father Luke Silver was sent out on a routine monster clearing mission, but his boss didn't tell him how many monsters there were to clear, resulting in him going into a major nest alone, and getting swarmed under and killed.
- Long-Lost Relative: Lila and Deah are first cousins, their mothers were sisters.
- The Nondescript: The villain of the first book, Grant.
- Passed-Over Promotion: Grant murdered Devon's father for not giving him the promotion he wanted, despite being given a different job of equal prestige instead.
- Someone to Remember Him By: Lila's father was murdered before she was born.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Lila's mother was a Sinclair retainer, and her father was the Draconi bruiser - which is why he was murdered by his boss. Felix's relationship with Deah also counts.
- The Ophelia: Deah's mother has gone a little crazy as a result of abuse from her husband, who only married her for her power of prophecy. She has taken to getting revenge by withholding details of her prophecies and trying to enact one of her own which says that Victor can be defeated if Deah and Lila join forces against him.
- Throwing the Fight: Deah's mother asks Lila to do this in the Tournament of Blades, saying that her daughter will suffer if she ever loses the tournament and that Lila will need Deah's help in order to kill Victor. Lila complies when she realizes exactly how true this is. Deah doesn't appreciate it, thinking it was done entirely out of pity.
- Troll Bridge: There are a lot of monsters in Cloudburst Falls that require some sort of payment before one can cross their territory unmolested. Most of the tolls are a token, such as a candy bar or a few coins. Lila defeats Grant by tricking him into chasing her over a lochness bridge on foot without paying the toll, at which point the lochness eats him.
- Victor Gains Loser's Powers: The titular Black Blades absorb magic, so any person who owns one can kill people or creatures with innate magic, take the magic into the blade, and then transfer the magic from the blade to themselves. This makes having powerful magic a double-edged sword, as having particularly strong or unusual magic will make the person who has it a target. The Big Bad of the series, Victor Draconi, gained his considerable magical power by stealing it from dozens of people.
- White Sheep: Deah Draconi is the only decent member of the family, as she takes after her abused mother rather than her evil father.
- Written by the Winners: The official city history glosses over the fact that it was founded by two Feuding Families of Hillbilly Moonshiners who decided that running a tourist trap was safer and more profitable than moonshining.
- You Killed My Father: Victor Draconi killed Lila's father indirectly, and murdered her mother in person. The only reason Lila hasn't sought revenge is because she knows she can't take him alone.