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Review: Steel, Blood and Fire by Allan Batchelder

By / December 28, 2015 / no comments

steelbllodfireMy interest in Steel, Blood and Fire peaked when Allan became active on the BestFantasyBooks forum and several of the members read and rated it highly. I received one of five eBooks the author gave freely to the first five who replied to his message. Nonetheless I’ll give a honest review.

This book revolves primarily around Tarmun Vykers, a semi-legendary spawn of moral ambiguity. We meet him in his darkest hour, captured by his enemies and bereft of his hands and feet. Crawling through the mud, leaves and humus, bleeding and hurting. Eventually finding shelter he agrees to a deal with a dead sorceress; hosting her presence while she reverses his dismemberment with ghostly digits and toes. Back to his ‘ordinary’ self he is pushed into a deal with the Virgin Queen to defeat The-End-of-All-Things (or Anders) , a destructive force with a host of thousands and thousands. From then on we see how Vykers’ quest unfolds with the help of his rather horrifying and monstrous lackeys.

Next to Vykers we also meet Aiofe, the sister of the antagonist Anders, and Long Pete, the former soldier-turned gigolo-turned soldier again. Long Pete and his gang certainly delivered much humour that intersects this book, the sometime hilarious conversations between Vykers and his dead sorceress Arune notwithstanding. The cast of side characters were well established as well. Certainly one of the strong suits of Allan Batchelder.

The story unfolds steadily throughout the book at a rather remorseless pace with a lot of POV changes. The scenes are succinct, yet apt. Personally, I would’ve liked a bit more description and stage setting, as there wasn’t much of that.

One other aspect that irked me was the antagonist. We learn a rather dark entity uses the body of Anders, Aiofe’s kin, and that a hint of his awareness remains. Yet, nothing was done with this information and the motivations for the entity to destroy was utterly unclear to me.

These critical remarks are just that, remarks. Steel, Blood and Fire is immensely satisfying and the way the author wrote this book urges you on as a reader. A unique voice deserving of a much wider audience or in other words: the best thing you’ve never read.

8/10

Review by @griffin

About the author

Jon Snow

Believe it or not, Jon Snow really got into reading only after reading A Game of Thrones back in 2002. Previously the only fantasy he had read were Lord of the Rings and many Magic: The Gathering books.While juggling teaching life, he tries to keep up with recently published books.

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