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Steel, Blood & Fire: Immortal Treachery, Book One (Volume 1) Paperback – January 2, 2013
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"The best thing you've never read." -- BestFantasyBooks.com
"Vykers is a remarkable, indelible protagonist." -- Kirkus
"550 pages of glorious fun!" -- Unshelved.com
"A gem! Engrossing!" -- Midwest Book Review
"Engaging. Gripping!" -- Fantascize.com
"Four-out-of-four stars!" -- OnlineBookclub.org
"Five stars!" -- FortheNovelLovers.com
"This novel truly has it all." - Noxwrite Reviews
"Brilliantly imagined and written." -- Independent Book Reviews
"A really engaging read!" -- IngeniousCat.com
"Five stars! A must-read." -- Cold Coffee Press
"Spectacular, full of excitement." -- Authors Talk About It
"Especially cool." -- Fantasy Author Molly Ringle
"A grim, edge-of-your-seatpleasure to read." Self-Publishers Review
"Rollicking fun and seriously addictive!"-- Chanticleer Reviews
"The most enchanting thing about S t e e l, B l o o d , & F i r e is certainly Batchelder's writing. He creates beautiful sentences, poetic but at the same time engagingand yet so understandable. This characteristic is not so easy to find in contemporary indie novels, but Batchelder masters it. He has an individual voice and it distinguishes this author from the rest." -- Noxwrite Review
"What sets Steel, Blood & Fire above many dark fantasy offerings is Allan Batchelder's deft ability to use this grimdark setting to weave an entertaining, fast-paced narrative which keeps you desperately turning the pages to see how things turn out." -- Bookwraiths
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Overall, I enjoyed this. It didn't have the strongest start for me but I am ultimately glad I stuck with it. I guess I felt like the beginning was a bit uneven, that some characters had a ton of dialogue (Long and his friends) and others had very little (Aoife) and that the scenes were pretty short with too-frequent POV switches. But after awhile, things got into a rhythm for me and I feel like the dialogue and description/internal monologue balanced out. Plus, I feel like the scenes got longer (or else I was simply more involved with the characters at this point), and the reading experience became much smoother. So anyway, stick it out past the first few chapters!
I can see a lot of influences from other fantasy works here, mostly Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series. Long and his friends were very much like a unit of Malazan marines, down to some of their individual abilities (Spirk from this book, like Blend from the Bridgeburners, had an ability to go unnoticed by the enemy). The thralls who followed the main villain, The End of All Things, reminded me of the thralls in Memories of Ice. Tarmun Vykers was quite a bit like Karsa Orlong in the beginning, though he changed somewhat over the course of the book. (There may be any number of other powerful fighters he compares to, it's just that I kind of had Malazan on the brain while I read this.) While the series is not as expansive as the Malazan universe, there are a lot of similar elements. Many of these may go back to Glen Cook and the Black Company books, and there are some bits and pieces that remind me of the small amount of sword and sorcery I've read.
A good chunk of the end of this book is a long, long battle. I know there are already a couple of other books out, and that more are planned, so I was able to guess part of the outcome, but it wasn't predictable. There were some happy reunions at the end but also some sad moments, and the two sides had unique advantages.
The world of this book will be familiar to frequent readers of fantasy. There are lots of peasants and villages, a few cities, a Queen who runs the side of the "good guys" (at least for this book), a polytheistic religion, etc. Not a lot of detail is required because you can kind of fill it in based on the rest of your experience with the genre. Writing was decent. There were no major errors that had me scratching my head, rereading sentences, etc. It felt like someone had gone through this book and done some good copy editing. (Not saying it was perfect, but it was definitely readable.) Although I felt the humor among Long's group was sometimes a little forced (and that may boil down to having a different sense of humor from the author), I caught myself smiling a few times.
I thought the characters were a good mix. I don't really feel like I have a handle on D'Kem or Aoife. Even though we were inside Aoife's head for a good chunk of the book, and even though she had a goal, I feel like things were just happening to her and she didn't ever get much say in directing events. As for D'Kem, I would want to know how he ended up where he was at the beginning of the book. Vykers, meanwhile, is easy to read. He's more sympathetic than, say, a Karsa Orlong, because he's in a vulnerable position at the beginning. He's not infallible. I feel like does a lot of growing and changing during the course of the book (some of which he remarks on himself, and some of which we are left to notice). The soldiers, first represented by Long and later by Janks in terms of POV, well, I did remember which character was which (which is something), but I think the point was to take them as a group. The End is somewhat one-dimensional, but there is a mystery surrounding his origin, and I am interested enough to see where this is going that I can kind of get around his one-dimensionality.
Anyway, if you read a lot of fantasy -- especially military fantasy -- there will most definitely be familiar elements. I don't generally write reviews of self-published fiction because I rarely finish self-published fiction. But not only did I finish this, I am actually looking forward to the sequel.
Steel, Blood & Fires opens with unspeakable violence as Tarmun Vykers, A.K.A, “the Reaper” a legendary warrior is in the stocks (in bonds, under guard). One must be warned that this is a work of dark fantasy, horror and mythology with adult language and graphic violence.
Author Allan Batchelder has done very well laying out this book with easy to follow headings (much like the way a play production might be laid out). The story pivots back and forth from what is happening with his main characters: the legendary warrior named Tarmun Vykers, Aoife Cestroenyn (An A’Shea or “Mender,” sister of Anders), D’Kem (a washed up Burner), Janks & Company, Long, A.K.A, Long Pete, Spirk Nessno (An idiot and friend to Long), Anders Cestroenyn (the self-proclaimed “End-of-All-Things) and Arune (A spectral Burner who shares Vykers’ body).
I would like to share a quote from this book that will help draw you in without spoiling the story. This quote come from one of the the chapter four headings titled ‘The End, On the March’.
“After seeing his general off, Anders climbed a small hillock and surveyed his host. What they lacked in training and skill, they more than made up for in numbers and ferocity. Either his magic had worked especially well upon his unwilling draftees, or humans were all more savage than they cared to admit. Looking out upon them, he saw them huddled in large, teeming masses around myriad bonfires. They were always ravenous for food, of course, but also for sex and violence. The End-of-All-Things would be happy to destroy them all, once they had served their purpose.
Pivoting to his left, he held out his arms and a slave laid the infant into them. It was a funny looking thing, this child. And would get funnier still, by the time Anders was through with it. He had decided, after some thought, that it was time he created something for a change. He would be the end of all things presently in existence, but this child would be the first of his new race, beings made especially to serve and obey him. Worship would not be required, as he felt he would probably kill large numbers of them whenever he got bored. Perhaps he should also create a competing race and pit them against one another!”
A must read for those who want to remain on the edge of your seat.
I, Theodocia McLean endorse Steel, Blood & Fire is book one in Author Allan Batchelder’s Immortal Treachery series. I purchased this book from a Kindle format on June 11, 2017 and wrote this review on June 15, 2017.
Steel, Blood & Fire (Immortal Treachery Book 1)