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Iron Axe (The Books of Blood and Iron) Mass Market Paperback – January 6, 2015
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"[Harper's] reinterpretations of trolls, giants, and fae folk give this series opener a fresh feeling, while his nods to Norse mythology and folklore root it strongly in fantasy tradition. Readers will be eager to see what's in store for Aisa and Danr."—Publishers Weekly
PRAISE FOR STEVEN HARPER AND THE CLOCKWORK EMPIRE SERIES
“If you love your Victorian adventure filled with zombies, amazing automatons, steampunk flare, and an impeccable eye for detail, you'll love the fascinating (and fantastical) Doomsday Vault!”—My Bookish Ways
“Harper creates a fascinating world of devices, conspiracies, and personalities.”— SFRevu
“Inventive and fun...a fantastic amount of action….If you are looking to jump into steampunk for the first time, I would recommend these books.”—Paranormal Haven
“The technology is present throughout the story, making it as much a character as any of the people Harper writes about.”—That's What I'm Talking About
“Steven Harper seemed to have this magical way of taking this crazy, awesome, complex idea and describing it in a way that anyone could follow.”—A Book Obsession
“A fun and thrilling fast-paced adventure full of engaging characters and plenty of surprises.”—SFF Chat
“The Clockwork Empire books are changing what we know as Steampunk!...Exuberant novels that take the reader on an action-packed adventurous thrill ride.”—Nocturne Romance Reads
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Even if the series ended at book one it would still have been a satisfying read, original, thought provoking, intense & enjoyable! Not all authors can do a Fantasy Tale well, but some authors who write different genres can & do well not because of a formula but because the story being told grabs on to your curiosity & nothing else will do but get your hands on more great tales, Harper has definitely hit the mark with this tale!!!!
Setting: magical alternate earth of the past, think Tolkien or Eddings
It is a pleasure to review a rare book that can actually rate 5-stars. We open to a teenager (half human, half orc) who struggles with poor treatment as a serf. A series of unlikely events throw him into a fun series of fantasy adventures. Along the way, he makes a few unlikely friends, and though I am often skeptical of such "fantasy group" plots, this one really works very well. Each character is well developed and quite interesting in their own right--and not always present, to my relief. Good pacing, good writing, creative events, and altogether worth the purchase price.
Iron Axe brought back fond memories of a classic fantasy book while still offering a wonderfully unique take on the genre. The story follows the basic quest formula, but the characters and their inner struggles are the stars of the book. Each of the struggles are strong enough to contain their own novels and are broad enough to interest almost anyone. Steven Harper created a world that I never got tired of exploring. He takes very well-known monsters and races and gives them interesting twists that requires the reader to look at these different races in a new light.
Harper's protagonist, Danr, is a half-human, half-troll, giving him a fascinating inner struggle throughout the book. Ever since Danr's mother died, he's struggled to find a place in his world among the human race, and when that fails he attempts to find one with the trolls. Danr's struggle to understand what he is—man or monster—and where he belongs, sends him all over the world looking for answers. On his journey, he also tries to find a way to stop a war that's threatening to spread over the whole continent and involve several different races.
Truth is another theme that runs throughout the book and, at times, nearly destroys Danr's friendship with both Aisa and Talfi. It begs the question: Is the truth always worth knowing or sharing? Should those we love be honest with us all of the time or is that too destructive?
My one issue with the book was Harper's choice to negate some of the results of the characters' choices at the end of the book. However, I understand why he did it, and I'm sure there will be some readers that will enjoy his decision. I, for one, enjoy seeing my characters have to make the hard choices and then live with the consequences no matter how hard or destructive. I feel like that's where a story truly becomes interesting—when we see how characters pull through.
Iron Axe is an enjoyable first book to a new series. It has plenty to offer to long-time fantasy readers as Harper twists the races and offers interesting struggles. There are acts of violence, language, and adult situations, so I would recommend it to older teens and adults. I would also recommend this book to anyone who loves interesting characters and character struggles. I'd also recommend it to anyone looking for a new take on familiar monsters and races.