Author: Jon Sprunk
Series: The Book of the Black Earth
Publication: Pyr (March 11, 2014)
Description: This action-heavy EPIC FANTASY SERIES OPENER is like a sword-and-sorcerySpartacus set in a richly-imagined world.
It starts with a shipwreck following a magical storm at sea. Horace, a soldier from the west, had joined the Great Crusade against the heathens of Akeshia after the deaths of his wife and son from plague. When he washes ashore, he finds himself at the mercy of the very people he was sent to kill, who speak a language and have a culture and customs he doesn't even begin to understand.
Not long after, Horace is pressed into service as a house slave. But this doesn't last. The Akeshians discover that Horace was a latent sorcerer, and he is catapulted from the chains of a slave to the halls of power in the queen's court. Together with Jirom, an ex-mercenary and gladiator, and Alyra, a spy in the court, he will seek a path to free himself and the empire's caste of slaves from a system where every man and woman must pay the price of blood or iron. Before the end, Horace will have paid dearly in both.
My Thoughts: BLOOD AND IRON was a richly, complex fantasy novel. The story was filled with politics and magic and centered around a ship-wrecked man named Horace. Horace had been on a crusade to conquer the heathen Akeshians when his ship was destroyed in a storm. He found himself in the land he was supposed to conquer. He was unable to understand the language and was made a slave.
While he was being taken somewhere in the company of other slaves, he met Jirom who was also a slave who had be used as a gladiator. Jirom was a much-traveled mercenary soldier before he became a slave. The two men strike up a friendship. However, when a magical storm hits the convoy and Horace uses his own magic to stop it, things change for the friends.
As a user of magic, Horace is freed but taken under guard to the queen. Jirom makes his way to the queen's army where he gets involved in a slave revolt. Horace finds himself with a magic he doesn't understand in a court steeped in intrigue. The queen who is young, beautiful, and treacherous is trying desperately to keep control of her throne and country. She is eager to bind Horace and his magic to her cause.
The politics was complex and convoluted. The characters were also complex in that I had no idea what their true loyalties were. I could completely understand Horace's feelings as he found himself in such a confusing situation. Knowing who to trust was a matter of survival but nothing was clear.
Fans of epic fantasy who like it violent and graphic will enjoy this story which is the first of a series.
"You have to understand the delicacy of the situation." Mulcibar lifted his gaze to the west. "We are an old civilization. We watched your nations grow from tribes of fur-wearing saves, and some of us still have a hard time believing that your people have advanced all that much. Then there is our politics. All power in Akeshia flows from the zoanii. Yet the Temple of the Sun has clawed its way into dominance over all the other cults, largely due to the emperor's favor, and now it chafes under our rule. Akeshia has suffered through more civil wars than I can easily recall, and now we teeter on the edge of another. Keeping you close is in Her Majesty's best interest. And yours."I got this ARC through Amazon Vine. You can buy your copy here.