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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Review: Trial of Blood and Steel Series

Haven (Trial of Blood & Steel, Book 4)Trial of Blood and Steel Series
Written by Joel Shepherd
Book 1: SashaBook 2: PetrodorBook 3: TracatoBook 4: Haven
Publisher: Pyr
Release Dates: Oct. 2009 to Apr. 2011
ARCs provided by publisher for fair and honest review...Thank You!

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

A fantasy series that proves hard to get into. Kind of unrelatable main character, inconsistent pacing and tough-to-follow POV changes make this series difficult to swallow. A good read for fans of the genre, but not really our cup of tea here at Things Liz Loves. Full review after the jump. WARNING: SPOILERS!

The Trial of Blood and Steel novels follow Sashandra, a former princess of Lenayin who gave up her title and place in the line of succession to be a warrior. It begins, in Sasha, with the killing of Lord Rashyd of Telgar by Lord Krayliss of Taneryn. Rashyd's son, Usyn, has declared war on Krayliss as a result. Sasha rides with her mentor, Kessligh, and members of the Falcon Guard the Halleryn in an effort to resolve the matter. Then there are rumors of war and Sasha has to decide where her loyalty lies.

The story continues in Petrodor, where Sasha has moved in an attempt to prevent war with the Bacosh. She works with Kessligh in order to enlist the aid of the serrin. They will be very important to her cause. But can they be trusted?

In Tracato, the serrin have made a home for themselves on human land. However, having failed to destroy the feudal families, they have a very dangerous threat to face from within. Sasha and Kessligh try to help strengthen the Nasi-Keth in the city, but, once again, Sasha finds her loyalties split between her people and her life apart from them.

The epic concludes with Haven, after the Larosa have claimed victory over Enora and Rhodaan. The Lenayin army is distraut over the loss of their king and ashamed at the horrible acts of Regent Balthaar Arosh against his enemies. Sasha makes the decision to stand with the serrin against the regent. All roads lead to Jahnd, a city that is home to humankind in Saalshen. In order to win this battle, the armies of Ilduur are needed. Their leaders are not eager to assist in this war, as it is not their own. It becomes increasingly difficult for Sasha to beat the overwhelming odds and bring peace to her beloved home.

The whole series reads like an extremely political D&D campaign without the other races and on a massive scale. The character point of view changes without warning. The pacing is all over the place, at times going into far too much detail, and other times glossing over things the way a film adaptation might. Also, the author seems to have difficulty writing female characters. There is improvement through the series, as he gets more comfortable with their development, but they never really ring true. To his credit, the saga did have a good ending. He didn't kill off all of his characters (just half) but still managed to bring a sense of closure to the whole thing.

Over all, the Trials of Blood and Steel quadrilogy had its moments, but they were bogged down by overly wordy descriptions. It wasn't really my type of book, but I believe it is well suited for people who love period fantasy. People that enjoy books like Lord of the Rings and Fablehaven should like this series.

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