Posts Tagged ‘joel shepherd’

The Lenayin army is defeated from their last battle, though the feudal army of the Regent Balthaar Arosh won the war.  The Lenayin king is dead and most of the army is humiliated.  They realise they are marching with an army displaying no honour and committing atrocities against both serrin and human.  Sasha leads her brother Damon and three quarters of the army of Lenayin to defect and fight for Saalshen.  This leaves her brothers, Koenyg and Myklas, with the nobility and the Verenthane fanatics to fight for the Regent.

The final battle that will determine the fate of the Bacosh is in Jahnd.  A city of human refugees in Saalshen, its serrin hosts have allowed it to build into a major power over the centuries.  The mountainous land of Ilduur, Saalshen Bacosh’s third province, refuses to come to the aid of its neighbours.   Most of Ilduur is against joining the war as the mountains protect them from the battles to the north.  For Sasha and her allies to defeat the enemy they need the Ilduurian Steel to fight with them.  Sasha leads a delegation south to plead with the Ilduur to send troops.

Sasha has to become a true Lenay warlord to save Saalshen.  She must be feared and hated by her enemies, uncompromising and all conquering. Her own people are now insisting that she, and not her brother Damon, should assume the Lenay throne. ‘Haven‘ is the final in the ‘A Trial of Blood and Steel’ political military fantasy.  It is a fitting climax to this fantastic series. The story line is fast-paced and full of action.  The armies of both sides meet for an epic battle that will determine the future of the Bacosh.

The only parts I didn’t like are the horses getting hurt in battle.  The humans chose to fight, the poor horses did not.  Apart from that, this is an exciting book to read.  It could be read as a stand-alone, as it covers the series plot well.  It is a satisfying to ending to the Saalshen Bacosh war, while leaving loose threads for future stories.

Orbit

Supplied by Hatchette

Reviewed by Jan

Rhodia has a divided population of feudalist’s, non-feudalist’s (Civid Sein), and the non-human serrin.  Tensions finally overflow and Rhodia moves toward a full-scale war. The northern Verenthane countries and the war-like goeren-yai, are marching south to join the Torovan armies and reclaim the Saalshen Bacosh. The serrin have occupied them for two hundred years and made them prosperous. The fanatical religious Verenthanes have wanted to reclaim them for years and some humans there want to return to feudal times.

In Tracato there is a politically and religiously complex situation.  Sasha’s Lenay countrymen are marching to wage war on the serrin.  Her lover is a serrin; her uman is on the opposing side. Sasha’s opposing loyalties and identity crisis build to an agonizing climax.  Sofy is marching with the Lenay army to marry a prince of Larosa in the sub-plot to Sasha’s life and battle for survival in Rhodia. With her are Jaryd, the former noble and now goeren-yai soldier, and Yasmyn, her fierce handmaiden.

Unlike the first two books in the Trial of Blood and Steel, Tracato completely skipped the introductions and jumped straight into action, the Tracato civil war. Then it jumped to the series-wide conflict, the Toravan/Lenayin invasion of Enora.  Joel Shepherd has built a highly complex political and religious world.  In Tracato, the history of the various countries and religions is known, the characters are in place, and everything is inexorably converging. There is maximum tension and intensity and this is possibly the most exciting book in the series.  Most of the back story is mentioned so this book is suitable to read alone.  I would urge people to start with Sasha though, as this is a fantastic series and deserves to be read in its entirety.

Orbit

Supplied by Hatchette

Reviewed by Jan

Sasha now lives in the Torrovan port city of Petrodor.  This is a city with several political factions squaring off against each other.  These are the powerful and rich merchant families, the nobility, the clergy, and the “talmaad” – serrin agents living in Petrodor.  The common folk are torn between the predominant Verenthane religion and the serrin-influenced Nasi-Keth.

Sasha’s sister Alythia is married off to the noble Halmady family. This political allience marriage beings a power struggle among the other noble houses.  This includes Steiner House, which Sasha and Alythia’s sister Marya was married into.  The politically minded archbishop sets in motion bloody events that turn allies into enemies.  Sasha and Alythia, along with their allies, struggle to survive.

The sub-plot follows Jaryd, hell-bent on revenge for the murder of his little brother.  He is now training with the Goeren-yay in Sasha’s old village after abandoning his Verenthane faith at the end of Sasha.  Sofy hears of a plot to murder his surviving brother and warns him.   With some village men, they charge off to rescue him.

The characters and factions also avoid being black-and-white stereotypes – not all Verenthanes are evil, not all nasi-keth are honorable, and the serrin aren’t quite as unified and angelic as they seemed at the end of Sasha. Everyone tries to look out for their own interests as best as they can. The political set-up is once again very complex, with factions within factions depending on or plotting against each other.

Petrodor is an exciting fantasy with a complex world.  It is an interesting focus on power, politics, and religion, with memorable characters.  There’s a bit of romance at the end but is minor.  The story is action-packed and exciting.  The second Trial of Blood and Steel is an excellent read.  You should read Sasha first, it will be  confusing otherwise as you won’t know the cause of the seemingly coming war or the many characters.

Orbit

Supplied by Hatchette

Reviewed by Jan

Lenayin is a land divided by two religions.  The Goeren-yai faith is a bit pagan, guided by spirits and focused on strength and honour.  Followed by most of the common people, it is the original Lenayin religion. The Verenthane faith is a more organized religion that has the majority of Lenayin’s nobility amongst its followers. When the sole remaining Goeren-yai High Lord kills a neighboring province’s Verenthane leader, a complex conflict begins that threatens to tear apart the fragile balance keeping Lenayin together.

The heroine, Sasha (short for Sashandra), is a daughter of the Lenay king.  She has abandoned her royal privileges to live among the Goeren-yai and study fighting techniques.  Her  tutor (uman) is Kessligh, former commander of Lenayin ‘s armies and hero of a past war with neighboring Cherrovan. Kessligh has adopted the Nasi-Keth, a third belief system that follows the teachings of the non-human serrinim.

Sasha is a supremely talented sword fighter as well as being temperamental and  stubborn.  She is torn in different directions, her desire to lead a simple life studying swordwork battling with the call of history and duty.  The Goeren-yai believe she is guided by the Synnich spirit that will liberate them from Verenthane oppression.

The book starts off slow, with the first half introducing the world of Lenayin.  There is a lot of talking, with characters being introduced and giving a good grasp of who’s who.  The political manipulations of the court are introduced and the laying out of events sets the scene of complex family and clan interaction.  The second half has more action, marching off to war, alliances built, battle scenes.  Characters are introduced who will play a major role in future books.

This is the start of an exciting fantasy quartet.  I’ve got the next 3 on my desk and can’t wait to start them.  They show the heroine as someone tough who turns her back on privilege and can be the best in a man’s world.  She doesn’t sit around waiting for rescue.  Her sister also appears and shows her strength in a different way.  I look forward to seeing more of Sofy.  Sasha is an excellent epic fantasy novel that promises great things for the rest of the series. I highly recommend this for fantasy fans.

Orbit

Supplied by Hatchette

Reviewed by Jan