Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sasha A Trial Of Blood and Steel - Joel Shepherd

Sasha is reminiscent of David Gemmell, and being the modern master of this sort of book that is a good thing.

However, A Trial of Blood and Steel is definitely not Sword and Sorcery in the style of the Waylander, Tenaka Khan or Skilgannon books, but much closer to the historical type of book that Gemmell produced with his last work in Shield of Thunder, etc. So, heroic or gritty military fantasy if you like, as opposed to epic or high fantasy.

Like the protagonist there, Sasha is a highborn woman who prefers martial pasttimes to needlepoint, and leaves her father and her princess role to study with the area's greatest swordsman.

This is the main point of the book, that Sasha studies a different swordfighting style to the standard feudal lords and nobles - hers is based on what at the moment seems to be the only supernatural element in the book - the serrin. Or, basically, they are sort of samurai elves, just with no pointy ears. Can see in the dark, great archers, aren't human, etc. Apparently this style is superior in face to face duels on the ground, because of the super elf stylins it has, not to mention the better metal of the weapons. Not so much use though when you are bashing people with brute strength from horseback.

Similarly, there is also the hint of psyhic prophecy ability, and Sasha herself is seen as a potential unifying force, being basically of the city and lords and also of the country areas, where she lives.

This is where the political conflict happens, between the two, as the Lords would like to extend feudal power to themselves other than just the king, and those that aren't happy with these power hungry changes more than happy to fight to resist.

The other problem the region has is that if they start fighting each other, neighbouring states just might move in and finish what is left.

The first book of a series, given the end, and it would appear more warfare is on the horizon.

I'd give this a 3.75 I think.

4 out of 5

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