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

3.7 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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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.
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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: 6 x 1.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,130,561 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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 its flaws, I really did like this book.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Writing 3.5/5
Imagination 3.5/5
Plot 4/5
Setting 4/5
Characters 3.5/5

My Overall Enjoyment 3.5/5

A solid first book in a new series set in an epic fantasy world, with a grimdark tone and tons of magic. Loaded with an extraordinary amount of plot twists and turns, I was genuinely surprised more times than in many other books of recent memory. The author was excellent at leading you down one path with a character and then throwing something believable yet totally unexpected into the mix.

Pretty quick pace and action filled in a sword and sorcery style, events move quickly and the book covers a lot of ground. The characters were fleshed out well, each had a unique voice, and I found myself interested in their lives. The stand out element of this book was the magic system. It is very heavy on magic so if you enjoy that, you should really like this book.

Recommended for fans of sword and sorcery, grimdark, and anyone who enjoys jumping into a unique fantasy world.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Blood and Iron was an exciting tale combining 3 unique characters from very different walks of life. For the most part I enjoyed reading the book as it was similar to others I have enjoyed in the past--free man becomes a slave only to find out that he has a `special' ability that puts him on the path to leadership, a good plot line no matter the take on it.

I really enjoyed the different take on how magic is used. The man had never heard of it and wasn't aware of how he was doing what he was doing. This made it more interesting as the story progressed. The loyalty shown between characters was heart-warming. In a world where feel-good stories seem to be gone, this one stands out.

The only issue that came up was it delved into a few social/political issues that seemed unnecessary. Take that away and you have a great storyline that involves action, romance, and magic... I can't ask for more and I'll be sure to recommend it to others.
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