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Steel, Blood & Fire: Immortal Treachery, Book One (Volume 1) Paperback – January 2, 2013
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"Vykers is a remarkable, indelible protagonist." -- Kirkus
"550 pages of glorious fun!" - Unshelved.org
"A gem! Engrossing!" -- Midwest Book Review
"Engaging! Gripping!" -- Fantascize.com
"Four-out-of-four stars!" -- OnlineBookClub.org
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Not as dumb as he acts, Vykers still has a trick or two up his empty sleeves!
But, will he save the world that has crippled him, and cast him out?
A good read, and a good beginning to a series.
Could Vykers be the new Conan?
(The Conan the Barbarian stories were a series written almost 100 years ago. )
These books answer that veiled prayer. These books are dirty, grimy, brutal, but they’re also quite funny, often lighthearted, and overall, immensely entertaining.
Steel, Blood, and Fire immediately draws you in, thankfully, as I am so often put off by slow starters (looking at you, Erikson), and frankly, with a full time job, a wife, and two toddlers, I don’t really have the time or the patience required for acquired tastes. Steel, Blood, and Fire is engaging from the first page and never slows. While there are certainly lulls in the action, Batchelder uses this time to make you laugh and round out a wonderfully varied, flawed and interesting cast of characters. Tarmun Vykers, while somewhat tropie, being your standard badass/whirlwind of destruction, is nonetheless an instant favorite with his callous attitude and laconic wit. Long Pete took some time to like, but he’s fun to read, and you grow to care about his band and the relationships he develops with them.
Furthermore, Batchelder lays down a narrative with multiple twists and turns, with events that unfold, fortunately, very unpredictably, and the surprises are always welcome and only serve to force the reader to ask more questions and take the story in new and interesting directions.
Overall, a great start to a great series. You will want to read the next volume immediately, and you’ll love it as well.
If you like super powered swordsmen, drunken heroes, evil sorcerers and scheming queens (my favorite character), you'll enjoy this.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I cannot wait to read the next book in this set.Read more
I became overly frustrated, on more than one occasion, to start this book after receiving it free for an honest review.Read more