Fantasy Review: ‘Blood and Iron’ by Jon Sprunk

Blood and IronSEE! –  The white male expat of DESTINY.  Yes ladies and gents Horace is the real deal.  Only a simple soldier joining the great crusade against the heathens but we know he is something more.  When he is taken as a slave after a ship wreck he holds his head high, resisting just enough to earn the respect of his captors.  When he sees a fellow slave being sexually assaulted it is he alone that plunges into the mix, saving the pour soul from her horror.  His inspired charge brings out fellow slave Jirom to help, cementing a friendship with that one act.

WATCH! – As destiny allows him to do magic that others can only dream about.  With no magic in his homeland one can only imagine his surprise when he shows he can do magic in this land better than those practitioners who have trained their whole life.  And he doesn’t need their silly exercises and mental conditionings either, think it and it be done!  Without any of the physical repercussions those silly heathens have either.  He even (get this!) has access to a discipline of magic thought to be lost through the ages!  Easy as pie my friends, easy as pie.

What can make this even better?  Magic users are revered in this land!  Once discovered there is no more slavery for our new friend Horace.  Instead he is on the fast track to the high court, personally set up with the Queen.  Hell, he hardly even knows the language when he is put in charge of her security.

MARVEL! – At his raw sexuality.  There are two female characters in this book, guess how many want to get them some Horace?  Did you guess three?  Then you are either horrible at math or just not paying attention anymore.  Yes the queen is certainly intrigued, and doesn’t bother to hide it.  But young slave girl Alyra has the inside track.  She is supposed to be spying on, someone?  For something?  But her and Horace, well, they got something going.  (About the whole spy plot line, and maybe this is just me, but “Night has Fallen” may be the dumbest written code ever.  Shouldn’t a written code be hidden in a more everyday text? Something like, ‘did you remember the eggs?,’ rather than a cryptic sounding note that screams ‘look at me.’)

WONDER! – If I am the only one bothered by some of these details.  Such as language lessons involving mistranslations of homonyms.  Do they speak English in Akeshia?  Or am I just to assume that every world has a language where the words for ‘sun’ and ‘son’ sound exactly same?

CONFESS! – That despite all this, I actually enjoyed this book quite a bit and look forward to reading more of the series.  Nothing that bugged me was a complete deal breaker.  Horace was a man of destiny, but other than the sudden influx of magic wasn’t a complete Gary Stu.  He had trials and had to fight through them.

The Queen was an interesting character all around.  Strong, but holding on to her position tenuously as the other powers of the land pushed her relentlessly.  In fact the Queen was probably the best character; alternately cruel and benign depending on which character’s eyes you saw her through.  Horace’s dealing with her almost made me forget the circumstances in which we first saw her.  I found the handling of this very well done.

So despite my ribbing please don’t make the mistake of thinking this I found this to be a bad book.  It was a pretty good one.  It was a book that’s sum was much better than any individual parts.  But oh boy, some of those parts…  Just wow.

3 Stars

Review copy provided by the publisher.

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