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review 2017-03-08 23:45
Bone War by Steven Harper
Bone War (The Books of Blood and Iron) - Steven Harper

It is from the Fates that Danr and his friends have learned that every action, every decision, every act, no matter how small, will cause ripples throughout the world and twist the future down a different path. Now the future of that world is in jeopardy once again when one of the three Fates is kidnapped by the wicked Elf Queen.

The two Fates that are left enlist Danr to find the missing Fate. But first he must find a legendary sword known as the Bone Sword. The Fates will also need Aisa’s help during this dark time. Danr and Aisa will be separated from their companions but in the end all characters will converge as this trilogy comes to an end.

This final book in the trilogy wraps things up on a more serious note and brings into question Danr and Aisa’s continuing relationship as the Fates cause them to examine life and the future. All of the loose ends are nicely tied up, giving us a final showdown between Death and Queen Vesha, and most of all, letting us know what on earth will happen with Aisa. Girl has so many options!

The Books of Blood and Iron is a series that follows in the footsteps of other great fantasy works, with all of the expected characters, but Steven Harper has given us a fresh perspective on these characters. I have to say I liked them a lot! Well most of them (I really wanted to smack the Elf Queen). The Norse-based mythology is very well done. I also really liked the way the author addresses the growing pains of a new love and how two people will handle the obstacles put in their path. This is an enjoyable series full of adventure and well worth the read.

I want to thank the publisher (Berkley Publishing Group) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

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review 2017-02-28 23:12
Blood Storm: The Books of Blood and Iron by Steven Harper
Blood Storm: The Books of Blood and Iron - Steven Harper

“I am Prince Hamzu, son of Kech and Halldora, TruthTeller from Under the Mountain, Nephew to Queen Vesha of the Stane.”

A man of many names, Hamzu, TruthTeller, Trollboy, Danr;

 

Danr and his companions are the renowned heroes of the Battle of the Twist.  They have united Kin, Stane and Fey when it was believed the three would never live together in the same city.  Danr is hated by many and adored by many, but all he really wants is to be left alone.  He longs to become a farmer and lead a calm, predictable life with his lady love, Aisa. 

 

Aisa is troubled.  She loves Danr but now she has seen his monster unleashed, and the memories haunt her.  While she is also being hailed as a hero, she finds herself being carried along in the wake of Danr and his friends, taking her further away from her dreams of the ocean.  Her dreams keep calling to her and she’s becoming restless for more.

 

Danr and Aisa first visited Death last year when she sent them after the Iron Axe.  Death rewarded them handsomely and she has since called for Danr and company’s assistance a few times.  Now as Death sits knitting, she tells Danr of the power of the shape, a gift once wielded by the Kin before the Sundering, sacrificed in order to destroy the Axe. 

 

Danr longs to find the power of the shape, for with it, he could become fully human and live a normal life.  But others want the power of the shape just as bad.  They will force Danr to find it whether it is for his use or theirs.  Before it’s over Danr and Aisa will have to confront a giant wyrm known as Grandfather Wyrm, along with the Three Gardeners, the Fates known as Nu, Tan, and Pendra.  They will find themselves sailing the stormy seas, and Aisa will actually get to see those mermaids she’s longed to keep company with.

 

This is a fun romp with characters that I’ve grown fond of.  The series is just travelling right along on the high seas of adventure…and you know it’s gettin’ good when the mermaids show up!

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review 2017-02-28 21:17
Iron Axe: The Books of Blood and Iron by Steven Harper
Iron Axe: The Books of Blood and Iron - Steven Harper

In Steven Harper’s The Books of Blood and Iron series we are introduced to a world where trolls, dwarves, and giants are known as the Stane; elves, sprites, and fairies are known as the Fae; and humans are known as the Kin.

 

The main character, Danr is 16 years old, his mother was Kin and his father was Stane.  When Danr was brought into the world, his mother was frowned upon for the birth of her half-troll child, and she was forced to accept work as a thrall to an unkind farmer.  Danr has suffered the cruelties that the world has to offer by being born as socially unacceptable and touted as a monster.  Now his mother has passed away and he desperately misses her.  He also knows that he must never forget to abide by the one piece of advice she always gave him, which was not to unleash the monster inside him. 

 

One of Danr’s few friends in the village is Aisa, who is a couple of years older than Danr.  Aisa has also suffered a hard life.  She was sold into slavery by her father and after being a slave to the elves in Alfhame, she is now a slave to a man named Farek, who sexually abuses her.  Aisa hides from the world by keeping herself covered from head to toe in a dark cloak and never allowing her face to show.  But she dreams of one day travelling to the South Sea, healing the sick and earning enough money to buy a small boat so she can sail out among the merwomen and regain her face. 

 

As these two try to escape the harsh realities of the life they’ve been given, a series of unusual events takes place which will change their paths.  Rumors are heard that the Stane have come down from the mountains and killed some villagers.  Now those villagers’ spirits are haunting the village and cannot be laid to rest.  As the rumors spread that the hated Stane are responsible, Danr’s place in the village becomes precarious.   Danr decides to flee the village and he sets out to find the truth behind the rumors and to learn more about his Stane heritage.  Danr is joined in his travels by Aisa and a new friend, Talfi, who bears no memories of who he is or where he came from.  Danr’s quest brings the group into contact with Death herself, who tells them that they must recover a powerful weapon known as the Iron Axe in order to tip the balance of the world back to its rightful place.  As they pursue the Iron Axe, they also wind up on a deeper quest for the truth about themselves and the world around them. 

 

Iron Axe features strong, loveable characters that each have their own personal struggles.  It is written in a straight-forward, no frills manner.  Harper has also effortlessly included gay characters within the story.  While the story at times seems simplistic, the characters have been through a lot of darkness.  Told in the style of traditional fantasy, the story moves along at a good clip and comes to a satisfactory end, with two more books to follow in this series.  I can also easily see this as a graphic novel, appealing to young adults and adults alike.  If you’re looking for a good book with a Beauty and the Beast crossed with a Norse-type Mythology vibe, you will enjoy this one.

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review 2015-09-30 23:58
Iron & Blood (Jake Desmet Series #1) by Gail Z Martin and Larry Martin
Iron and Blood (Jack Desmet Adventure) - Gail Z Martin,Larry Martin

Jake and Rick, with their cousin Nicki, work for their father’s company retrieving hard to find items at very high cost for their very rich clients. Unfortunately, not every item is safe nor is every client as they find out when Jake’s father is murdered

 

They must return to New Pittsburgh, ducking hired killers along the way to uncover a conspiracy that is festering in the city and goes far further than a few items they transported.

 

 

There’s a lot about this book I love.

 

I love the characters – each of these characters has so much potential for being a book series in its own right. I love their history, their interactions and just about everything about them. In fact, this becomes one of the problems simply because they can’t all be suitably awesome at all times

 

I really love the world setting, the Victorian industrialness with a touch of steam punk and a whole lot of magic and the supernatural being added to really richen the whole thing. It draws upon the supernatural from many European superstitions and belief systems and does an excellent job of creating a city that is defined by its immigrant populations. The different neighbourhoods, the way the city works and the immigrant diversity come together in a really rich tapestry. On top of the magic and industry and aesthetics and Victorian etiquette (which can also be used for the best humour    (“Get out of here, Aunt Catherine. You’re in mourning. You can’t be shooting people, it wouldn’t be proper.”) there’s also some really excellent analysis of class. How workers are constantly used as fodder and disposable, the battles of the rising union movement in the face of the mine owners who are willing to raise armies and massacre the workers as well as the restrictions that are hemming in women. We also have the Oligarchy, the very essence of the entitled Robber Barons of the era and their near untouchability along side the disposability of the poor and how little their deaths matters

 

Class moves nicely in to the immigrant cultures and works alongside the supernatural and magic and world building to make for a truly excellent world building. We throw in some extra bonuses like Kobolds which suggests a whole lot more supernatural creatures lurking and permeating every level of society.

 

The plot itself draws on every element of this – the supernatural and monsters. The untouchability of the Oligarchy, the disposability of the workers. Magic being used in shiny and scary ways. Massive industry and super-steampunk devices. It was all displayed and it was just so huge and so much fun

 

 

Ok, problems, alas, there are problems. For me the biggest problem was the switching POV. I’m not against POV being switched, I quite like following different characters. When done well this lets me see the world and the characters through different lenses and allows for a lot of fun nuance and possibilities. But when done badly it can be clumsy, and this is clumsy on several levels. Part of that relates to the many many many many characters and all of them basically following the same clues and making the same revelations separately. And then recapping each other at great length. The whole book feels a whole lot longer than it needs to be and very repetitive as we just go over the same ground over and over again with different characters.


This is exacerbated by some of these POV characters being the actual villain. Not just is one of the POV character a villain but pretty early in the book we get him and his evil partner basically expositioning their entire evil plan. Almost as soon as the book starts I know who the bad guys are, what they’re doing, why they’re doing it and how. Literally every last scrap of mystery about the bad guys’ master plan is revealed really early on.

 

Then we spend the rest of the book with our heroes trying to discover this plan. Which we already no. This really adds to the repetitive feel of the book – we have pages and pages of the heroes questioning, researching, discovering and discussing something we have known almost since the book began.

 

So the book does feel so very long compared to what it is – which isn’t helped by a truly huge number of characters. Sooooo many names, so many many names and I have rather a lot of trouble keeping track of them all. This frustrates me because I’m interested. Even when I’m trying to juggle these 80 gazillion characters, the ones I remember and can pin down are really appealing. I love Nicki (swashbuckling female character) and Cady (female researcher) and Catherine (Jake’s mother and perhaps the subtle power behind the throne) and am frustrated that they felt superfluous to this actual story because there are so many people. I like the relationship between Jake and Rick with Miksa thrown in (the two heir apparents of the company and their bodyguard) but we don’t really have time to develop it. We had Adam and his super-science and a whole lot of shiny items which people are fighting over and the expert dirigible pilot… sooo many people. So many great people…

 

 

Read More

 

Source: www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2015/09/iron-blood-jake-desmet-series-1-by-gail.html
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review 2015-08-05 05:21
Entertaining Steampunk
Iron and Blood (Jack Desmet Adventure) - Gail Z Martin,Larry Martin

Iron & Blood is another genre blender story from Gail Z. Martin; this time with Larry Martin as co-author. The novel reads very much like a traditional murder mystery except that it is filled with magical creatures, ghosts, witches, zombies, steampunk airships, and tesla rays, and is set in the alternate history city of New Pittsburgh circa 1898.

 

The main protagonists of the tale are Jake Desmet and Rick Brand, heirs to the Brand & Desmet Import Company. These two travel the world acquiring unusual items for their wealthy clientele. While their procurement of these treasures is usually completely legal, there are times when less conventional means are necessary, things do become harrowing, and a bit of fisticuffs do ensue.

 

As this novel begins Jake and Rick – along with their cousin Veronique LeClerque (Nikki to her friends) – find themselves pursued by some violent fellows, who seem determined to kill them over a rather insignificant acquisition. Fortunately, our heroes are tricked out with the latest armored carriages, high flying zeppelins and other assorted steampunk goodies that allow them to escape. But when shadowy assassins follow them across the Atlantic Ocean, leaving New Pittsburgh awash in blood, Jake, Rick and Nikki uncover a plot involving magic, vampires, politics, and industrial sabotage that threatens not only themselves and their home city, but the entire world!

 

While Iron & Blood has loads of daring-do by our trio, plenty of cool steampunk gadgets, and some vile villains, my favorite part of the narrative was the setting itself: New Pittsburgh. This hub of engineering contraptions, steam driven machines, and insane mining is the center of American steam-powered industry. Built upon the ruins of the old city of the same name after its destruction and elevation (Both literally and figuratively) by earthquake, it is a marvel to behold, modern in that charming steampunk way, yet filled with urban fantasy creatures and shadowy governments and known to the world as ‘hell with the lid off.’ Truly, it blew me away; one of the best steampunk setting that I have yet experienced.

 

On the other hand, Jake Desmet and Rick Brand did not blow me away. Don’t get me wrong, I liked them, but they never had that “It” factor that turns a protagonist into a star for me. And, unfortunately, the supporting cast were not developed enough to carry the story, even though Nikki showed a lot of promise as a tough, witty heroine in her too brief appearances.

 

The only other criticism I have of this novel (and it may just be me being too picky) is that I felt the authors gave too much of the mystery away by their constant focus on the villains. Sure, I liked seeing the bad guys plot their evil plans. Yeah, it felt good to always be one step ahead of the heroes, as they bumbled around trying to discover the things I already knew. But, at the same time, knowing everything that was going on took a lot of the fun out of the story for me. I mean, why read page after page of Jake and Rick frantically searching for clues to solve a mystery when I already knew it all.

 

Now, I’m a sucker for genre blenders, so this mix of pulp adventure, mystery, steampunk, urban fantasy, and fantasy with a great setting was exactly the sort of story that I enjoy. For that reason, Iron & Blood was a fun book to read, and I’d encourage others to give it a try.

 

I received this book from Solaris Publishing and Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to inform everyone that the review you are about to read is my opinion alone.

Source: bookwraiths.com/2015/08/05/iron-blood-by-gail-z-martin-and-larry-martin
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