Dark Fantasy of Steel, Blood, & Fire
One of my favorite genres to read is definitely fantasy. When you devote yourself to a certain genre, it is no wonder that, at one point, you will start to notice how some figures, tropes, and even plots repeat in many fantasy books. As I started to read Steel, Blood, & Fire by Allan Batchelder, I was as excited as I was skeptical, thinking that I would be reading yet another way–too–similar work of fantasy fiction. I was so wrong.
Steel, Blood, & Fire is an epic fantasy novel which greatly deals with immortality, the nature of courage, and war. Let’s not forget the novel’s wonderfully incorporated world of magic. The opening pages get you intrigued almost right from the start.
The thing I enjoyed the most is that the story is told from the perspective of a number of characters, like Vykers (the protagonist), Aoife, Long Pete (a gigolo and soldier), and Anders or “End-Of-All-Things” (the antagonist). While this kind of storytelling is captivating, it can be hard to pull it off, since many authors fail to give distinctive “voices” to characters. This is yet another problem that Batchelder solves beautifully.
In Steel, Blood, & Fire, each character has their own unique voice and personality. The author takes great care in building, not only the main characters, but the side characters as well. Dialogues are realistic, entertaining, dramatic, and make you feel like you are there, spying on characters’ conversations.
In epic fantasy novels, you usually find the stereotypical narrative of the “good” side confronting the “bad” side. Batchelder manages to give it a nice twist and shows us how the protagonist can be villainous, just as the antagonist can have an intriguing backstory.
I was constantly curious to discover whether the characters will pursue their goals to the end, which side they will choose, and whether they’ll win or lose the battle. The reader will definitely enjoy how Batchelder keeps you on your toes all the time, which makes it difficult to predict the outcome.
The most enchanting thing about Steel, Blood, & Fire is certainly Batchelder’s writing. He creates beautiful sentences, poetic but at the same time engaging and 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.
If you are looking for an epic fantasy novel, you should put Steel, Blood, & Fire on your reading list right now. The novel truly has it all: a mystical land, mysterious characters, an unpredictable plot, and funny yet dramatic dialogues. Batchelder’s Steel, Blood, & Fire will make you read it all in one sitting, and will leave you eager to find out what happens in the second book.
Katarina Kovcin, Noxwrite Editor-in-Chief