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Blood and Iron (The Book of the Black Earth) Paperback – March 11, 2014


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Product Details

  • Series: The Book of the Black Earth (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 427 pages
  • Publisher: Pyr (March 11, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616148934
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616148935
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #910,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Sheer fun, with engaging, pulse-quickening action, sympathetic characters and intricate intrigue.... Definitely a series to follow." 
—Kirkus Reviews

"The clear writing and fast pace make [this] a fun adventure of magic, political intrigue, and good old-fashioned heroes."
—Michael J. Sullivan, author of the Riyria Chronicles

"Sprunk’s world is fascinating and original, reminiscent of ancient Sumeria and Babylon…"
Publishers Weekly

“An interesting magic system, complicated political scene, and loads of action make this Spartacus-with-magic a fun first volume in a new epic fantasy series.”
Library Journal

About the Author

Jon Sprunk is the author of the Shadow Saga--Shadow's Son, Shadow's Lure, and Shadow's Master--which has been published in seven languages worldwide. An avid adventurer in his spare time, he lives in central Pennsylvania with his family.

More About the Author

Jon Sprunk is the author of BLOOD AND IRON, the first book in the Book of the Black Earth fantasy series. He also wrote the Shadow Saga (Shadow's Son, Shadow's Lure, and Shadow's Master.) Shadow's Son was a finalist for the Compton Crook Award and also a nominee for the David Gemmell Award in two categories.

Jon lives in central Pennsylvania with his wife and son. When not writing, he enjoys travel, collecting medieval and ancient weaponry, and pro football. Visit him online at www.jonsprunk.com, or on Facebook or Twitter.

Customer Reviews

It's entertaining, and fast-paced with great characters and fascinating magical system.
B. S. Cheney
If you are already familiar with and enjoy other works by this author, I'm sure you will want to read this opening novel in a new series.
J. Lesley
If you're still interested, then continue on... My biggest problem with the book is its main character.
Biblioholic Beth

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Wildwily VINE VOICE on February 4, 2014
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Where did it go wrong? Some have called the beginning slow, I think it was good pacing to avoid being rushed. I liked Jirom and the slave trade was spot on. Everything was reading almost as an historical mashup of Romans and Crusades and Persians. Even the magic was a fun system.

Then ...Horace. First, this minor carpenter on a troop ship seems to a kid, then he is a grownup. He acts outraged at the actions taken by the guards against the slaves, as if he is completely unaware HE IS A SLAVE!!!

Then he discovers he has magic. Soon he is being walked through the front doors of a palace where he starts critiquing the art. This ships carpenter is now an art aficionado.

...when the main character is the worst designed character...oy.

And that is the true problem for me. Everything else hung together pretty well. Okay, having Jirom suddenly thinking about kissing his buddy Horace was a little odd, but it did help to motivate Jirom a little. Kinda simplistic, but whatever.

The training pit was interesting, but not very well thought out. The attack on the stronghold in the desert...if the Akeshians had magic and the Crusaders didn't, why weren't they cleaning their clocks?

But it all comes back to Horace, the middle aged manchild. Nothing about the character rang true for me. The pain of losing his wife and child, being lost in a land where he didn't speak the language, vast cosmic powers where everyone else struggles...it was all just a mishmash of backstory that left me bored.

A good book to me is one that when I hit the halfway point I can no longer put it down. I put this book down three times for days each time and had to struggle to finish out of a sense of duty.

Two stars because the writer does have some talent for linking words together, and his supporting cast was good.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By C.E. VINE VOICE on February 2, 2014
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I didn't want to to like this novel. I really, really, really didn't. It started slow, the tropes were all there, and I was preparing to just toss it aside...but I decided to stop being such a snob and just read the thing. I am happy to say that I am glad I did.

While it starts of at a leisurely and plodding pace, the story of Horace and the intrigue of the Akeshian kingdom is actually quite engaging. Despite my best efforts, I found myself wanting to know what would happen to each character, how the interwoven plots would come together, and where they would go from there. I got sucked in. Now I need to read book two and find out more. Curse you Jon Sprunk...curse you for making me like this book!

While the characters can seem pretty one dimensional (and some of them truly are), others are painted in detail that belies their simplicity. Councilor Mulcibar, the slave Aylra, and the gladiator/slave Jirom were my favorites in the book. Shadowy sorcerers, a powerful religious cult, and courtly intrigue all have a hand in this novel as well. While not handled as deftly as some would like, they are all worked in together and with an appropriate smattering of surprises along the way.

Some of the plot points seemed a bit contrived, and I spent the latter half of the novel just wishing Horace would stop being such a depressed mope, but he redeemed himself toward the end, I am happy to report. Similar to his plight, (him being a castaway, then a slave, then an official of court) we are taken on a jaunt across the landscape between two main viewpoints- each with a distinct corner of the world to examine. Sprunk does this well and the shift isn't as jarring as I have seen in other novels.

Despite it's flaws, I really did like this book.
Read more ›
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By fmwaalex VINE VOICE on February 20, 2014
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
BLOOD AND IRON

John Sprunk has crafted a very entertaining and interesting piece with this first in a series, at least I think it will be a series. Any way this is the story of Horace and the magic he discovers he has. It is an interesting journey that is full of fun characters and action. I have read other reviews about this being a slow read at first but I thought it was fairly well paced. When the action hits it hits and the characters are fun. I really enjoyed the process Horace goes through finding out about magic. This was a good book and I am looking forward to the one in the series.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By I Teach Typing on February 8, 2014
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There is a lot to like in a world built on magic, slavery, political/religious intrigue but with some weak character development this book is not great. The biggest flaw with the book is the relatively shallow protagonist. We are introduced to the lead as a shipwrecked crusader washing-up on the shore. Basically it feels like we are following an amnesiac as he recalls his past. Because the author is trying to draw him from a blank page, bit by bit as the story progresses, he comes across as very one dimensional as he is buffeted from one bad scenario to the next. This was an interesting (aka bad) choice because the author can write and builds a good set of interesting reasonably developed supporting characters.

The world building and pace are good. There are a lot of familiar themes here but they have been reworked enough that they are not dull. The crusaders vs locals themes are handled well and the author avoids the trap of a simple morality play which could detract from the action. There is a lot of political intrigue which does slow down the book and will probably annoy people who are looking for pure action/adventure.

Overall this is a good book and given that we do start to understand the protagonist at the end, I will be picking up the second book in the series.
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