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Feb 01, Judy Lesley rated it liked it Shelves: I see from the information on the back cover that this book is the beginning novel in an "epic" fantasy series. I can certainly see that this can be considered the first adventures in the life of an intriguing character. This novel shows how Horace progressed from being a simple ship's carpenter to being First Sword for Queen Byleth of Erugash. The countries and cities in this novel rely on a slave and master caste c My copy of this novel is an ARC received through the Amazon Vine Voices program.

The countries and cities in this novel rely on a slave and master caste culture and Horace has his time of suffering as a slave before his latent powers in a very inventive sorcery come into the picture. Other perspectives in this fantasy world are shown through the actions of Alyra, a handmaiden of the queen and Jirom who is an ex-mercenary who now fights as a gladiator for his owners.

Readers who enjoy high action novels will certainly find that in this novel. Even though the start of the novel was somewhat slow in developing there was certainly enough action during the exhibition of the magical abilities by Horace and other sorcerers to get your heart pounding. I've not read any other novels by Jon Sprunk so I can't say if this style of writing is usual for him, but I would describe it as being on the sparse and elementary side when it came to description and dialogue. That was not completely to my personal taste and yet Sprunk does definitely get his points across.

If you are already familiar with and enjoy other works by this author, I'm sure you will want to read this opening novel in a new series. If you aren't necessarily looking for lyrical prose, but prefer that the author give you more facts than fancy, this will also be a good reading experience for you. I do read quite a bit of fantasy literature and I would say this novel is standard in the amount of violence it contains.

Especially considering that one of the main characters is a soldier and gladiator. This was an interesting reading experience for me. I appreciated the unusual source of magical abilities and can see how the story arc concerning how to end slavery within this fantasy world will provide a lot of scope for the author to work with throughout the series. Jan 31, Sarah rated it really liked it Shelves: I honestly enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. I like the direction it is going.

The world is what sold me. Complex and real, vibrant and believable, and all of the magic, religious strife, and politics thrown in were just fantastic. The start is slow, but after that the book itself take The final verdict? The start is slow, but after that the book itself takes off. Should that hold you back from reading it? Sprunk has started a series that promises to rival many other epic fantasy series, and has the ability to hook a lot of readers that might not anticipate being hooked.

Deep, dark, violent, and full of complex politics and an even more complex culture, Blood and Iron has something for everyone. Read my full review here: Dec 16, Sud rated it liked it Shelves: Not a bad quick read. If you are a fan of fantasy, then this is a good book. It has shades of The Last Airbender in the way they deal with magic. Also the world in which the West mirrors Crusader Europe of the 11th Century and the East is a mysterious magical land that is being "liberated" is an amalgam of the Assyrians and Ottoman Empires is an interesting touch.

The use to "normal" language versus the high prose normally associated with fantasy reminds me of the Black Company series. I have to Not a bad quick read. I have to admit that I thought I would enjoy it more than I did and can not quite put my finger on why I did not. It has a slight more emphasis on romantic entanglements than I am used to in my fantasy stories and that maybe caused me to tune out certain characters more than I should have. I also understand that this is only the 1st of a trilogy, but I can honestly say I am not sure if I will be motivated to seek out books 2 and three to see how the story ends.

Not a bad book by any means but neither is it a great read. Feb 06, Whitney rated it really liked it Shelves: Blood and Iron is a politically drenched fantasy novel that doesn't pull any punches. Full of the brutality expected in books that discuss slavery and war, this is not a book for everyone. The narrative is told in alternating chapters that revolve around three main characters: Horace, a foreigner who is now the pet sorcerer project to the queen, Jirom, an ex-mercenary and gladiator who is now a slave in the queen's army, and Alyra, a spy working to destabilize the queen's rule.

I really enjoyed t Blood and Iron is a politically drenched fantasy novel that doesn't pull any punches. Each of the main characters are able to give different insight to the workings of the kingdom and create a much larger, much more complicated tapestry of political and religious power-mongering. A good start, I look forward to seeing where the series goes next.

Oct 21, Fantasy Literature rated it liked it. Apr 02, Randy rated it it was amazing. Fantasy, this type anyway, is not my usual forte. But author jon Sprunk's writing style made the thing come alive for me. Horace is a man marooned in the lands of the enemy, the sole survivor of a shipwreck. He discovers within himself a power, they call it zoana, he'd never known was in him. Quite enjoyable and ready for more. Sep 24, Jennifer rated it it was amazing.

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It was a really good book, and I hope there will be a second: In the beginning I felt it was slow after the shipwreck, but the pace was natural for the events that took place. Overall I liked the characters, Jon Sprunk creates some really interesting and awesome characters: It was pretty obviously where the inspiration to the story came from, at least to me.

But it made a really great story and conflict. And the ending, what a ending! It was a really good ending in more than one way. Magic and loss Shipwrecked on a foreign country, embroiled in pol beyond his ken, Horace must come to terms with the power inside him. This was a great start to a new series that incorporates the political gamesmanship of a Game of Thrones with the visceral combat of Joe Abercrombie. Jan 06, Felix rated it it was amazing. I really loved the characters and the story that evolved around them.

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Magic, Gladiators and slaves. A great foundation has been laid for the future stories. I can't believe it, but this shows more promise than his last series which was outstanding! Mar 18, Chris Byron rated it liked it. Feb 28, Leontii Cristea rated it really liked it. I think this enhances the experience—it did with Blood and Iron. In this colourful fantasy with two men with different histories, and two women brimming with agency, Sprunk has crafted something that really pulls the reader in, desperate to know more, eager to see what will happen next.

Sprunk is a natural storyteller and this talent really shines through in his detailed and engaging prose. To have a gay POV narrative character, a male, is not just a demonstration of how progressive and obviously determined to write the fantasy of the future, Sprunk is, but also refreshing and reassuring. Sexuality is approached casually, as is the difference of religious belief and ritual: The protagonists certainly become more educated as to the wide variety of difference their world has to offer, and this was presented expertly.

Blood and Iron tells the converging stories of four main characters, two male, two female, who find themselves in very close quarters with one another, thanks to the hand of fate. Their meetings, their relationships and experiences of and with one another are thrilling and charged with possibility. With his homeland crusading against the heathens who refuse to worship the True Church, Horace finds himself deeply mistrusted and suspected of being a spy.

When he finds himself suddenly thrust into a game played with intrigue and subtlety, he must learn to become a member of a society he scarcely understands in order to survive. But Horace has never trained in the art of politicking and when a single mistake could mean death, he must keep his wits about him, and adapt quickly to this new part of himself—a part he never knew about before now.

A part that makes him a heretic. All he must do is fight and survive. Yet when he meets Horace, something about him stirs a part of him to life, something deep inside. Unbeknownst to the dark-skinned slave, banished from his village so many years ago, what he is about to become involved in—all on the word of a charismatic and handsome man—will plunge him deeply into the tides of revolution, rebellion and war.

But then, does he really have anything better to do? I enjoy seeing events transpire from the POV of royalty and Byleth was engaging and exciting and with a desperation to her story and narrative that was hopelessly compelling. Alyra enjoys a tightly woven story with surprises and difficult choices ahead. She is complex and will do whatever it takes to achieve her goals—whatever they might be.

But in the same boat as Horace, a stranger from another land, she is embroiled deeply in the same game of whispers and intrigue that Horace must play. Their paths could cross and be beneficial to one another—or their agendas might ultimately clash. Essentially Blood and Iron is a richly constructed and colourful novel with a diverse and intelligent cast. The opening could have been pacier, could have pulled the reader in sooner and might have offered more than the slow trudge towards the main bulk of the action.

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But all said, Blood and Iron is a fantastic book that shows just how easy it is to stray from the familiar paths now well-trod in fantasy, and venture towards the unusual, the different and the exotic. The diverse cast and real representation of a real and developed world, Sprunk has hit the mark.

I am looking forward to the next book, desperate to know what will happen next and where the plot will go. Just as good as his Shadow Saga, Sprunk is, again, a winner. Jun 28, Nicole rated it it was amazing Shelves: Review originally posted on Erlebnisse, my book review blog that does everything but review books. It took me five sittings to read this book. That's how good this book is, friends. I saw this book sitting on the shelves at Barnes and Noble one day and immediately went to read the back.

The cover was just so intriguing to me. And it seemed interesting, yet I couldn't bite the bullet and purchase it, as the price was a Review originally posted on Erlebnisse, my book review blog that does everything but review books. And it seemed interesting, yet I couldn't bite the bullet and purchase it, as the price was a bit out of my price range but, to be honest, all prices are out of my price range; living paycheck-to-paycheck has its drawbacks. So I put it back. And then I kept seeing it, everywhere.

Sometimes it'd be on display, so it would be impossible to miss. Other times, I'd just be perusing the spines, innocently dreaming of the day when endless paychecks resulted in an endless supply of all the books I want, and then BAM! And that was probably, what, over a year ago? Yeah, a long time to pine over a book you want to read. So, cue moving back in with my parents this past semester remember that paycheck-to-paycheck living comment I made For some odd reason, I never use any libraries other than the library I have always used as kid.

I don't know why. It's as if, when I'm not staying at home for an extended period of time, other libraries don't exist even though I work in an academic one. My mind is a weird place. Anyway, back to reviewing the experience that was reading Blood and Iron. So, I start getting back into the groove of maxing out the family library card, when suddenly, I remember that cover that has haunted me for so long; three souls locked together by chains, just begging for their story to be read.

I rush to put Blood and Iron on hold, which I got roughly two weeks ago. I start reading it, fly through the first pages and then continue to read it in longer spurts throughout the next two weeks, until eventually, I put off walking my dog for an hour and a half, as the chapter I read eating a bowl of cereal just wasn't enough and I had to finish the damn thing sorry, Shadow. All in all, I wasn't disappointed. Blood and Iron follows the lives of three slaves: Horace, a shipwright shipwrecked on enemy territory and taken in custody; Jirom, a gladiator traded into the life of trying to survive as he continues to switch hands and alliances; and Alyra, a slave who chose that fate in order to better live out her true identity as a spy.

All of them struggle to survive within the realm of Queen Byleth, a woman who simply wants power, yet is constantly threatened by the religious sect that undermines to dethrone her, through forced marriage. Also, don't forget to include awesome and terrifying storms, political intrigue and just a flair of romance. Any time I stopped reading, Blood and Iron always called me back. Similar to how I always found it at the bookstore, even when I wasn't looking for it, when Real Life would force its way into my reading time, I would close the book and, for a couple minutes afterwords, still be living in the world I had just left.

Instead of getting ready for work, I would be thinking back to the heat of the desert and imagining how sweaty and painful that experience must be, marching all day with barely any bread or water given to you. Instead of walking my dog, I would be thinking about all the abrupt changes Horace was going through and wondering how on Earth he was going to master his magical powers and manage to keep himself alive. I just wanted to go back, instead of dealing with whatever interruption life had suddenly thrown my way. Looking at some other reviews, some complaints are possible: Personally, I could see how other readers might give sway to these complaints, yet I didn't think about any of these things whilst I was reading.

I was too lost within the story. So does the plotline incorporate a trope? Does the ending scene, which had a chance for a great romantic confession, come up a little bit short? Could Horace have had a bit more agency? Potentially, but I personally feel that having life throw thing after thing at you and you having no control over it is more realistic than getting to have a say in everything you do.

Plus, he is a slave in a foreign country that his people are at war with. So it isn't surprising that he doesn't have a lot of agency in the first half of the book, so I much prefer his "choicelessness" in the matter. Basically, could or does this book have faults? Yes, it potentially could or maybe does. Because I'm not reading books or reviewing them to find all the faults within them. I don't go looking for books that are absent of all tropes and do everything completely new.

I read to escape reality, to fall in love with characters and to enjoy myself for a couple of hours as my own problems and stresses slip away. Blood and Iron allowed me to do just that. I enjoyed the writing style, I became loyal to the characters, I cared about them and I grew fascinated by the world that Sprunk created. As a reader, can I really ask for more than that? Jun 06, Mieneke rated it liked it Shelves: I completely missed out on Jon Sprunk's previous series, the Shadow Saga , despite hearing lots of good stuff about it and definitely being interested.

Sometimes you just don't get around to a series. When I was contacted about reviewing the first in Sprunk's newest series, I said yes with alacrity as it seemed a good point to finally read the author's work and the book sounded quite interesting. And it was interesting, but not just in a positive way. I had very mixed feelings reading Blood and I I completely missed out on Jon Sprunk's previous series, the Shadow Saga , despite hearing lots of good stuff about it and definitely being interested. I had very mixed feelings reading Blood and Iron due to some of the elements in the setting, characterization and its pacing.

Yet once the story finally found its groove, or perhaps I found my feet within the narrative, the story was entertaining and kept me reading wanting to find out what happened. To start off with what I found problematic. The Empire of Akishia is a rather jumbled together mix of Ancient Egypt, Hellenistic Greece, the Roman Empire, and several other Near Eastern cultures with the serial numbers filed off. At least that was how it came across to me and these elements kept jarring me out of the narrative, as I kept thinking oh this is Roman, this is Egyptian and so on.

And it's not that Sprunk doesn't create an interesting society in Akeshia, because he certainly does, but some elements just felt too familiar and didn't really blend together. That isn't to say that this is all there is to Horace's character. While I had mixed feelings about him, due to the whole White Saviour shtick and the fact that the other three main characters all fall in some form of love with him, I did rather like him.

Sprunk draws out the revelations about Horace's past, revealing quite early on that he has lost his wife and son, but only giving us the whole of the story in drips and drabs throughout the novel, creating pathos for Horace, but also a draw to find out what makes Horace tick. His sudden development of what the Akeshii call zoana, a form of elemental magic, rescues him from a life of slavery, but also puts him in a position that he doesn't really know how to cope with. I really liked the concept of the zoana and the way that nobility was connected to this—only those who have zoana can be so-called zoanii, the nobles with true power.

While I liked Horace on the whole, my favourite character was the ex-gladiator Jirom. I loved Jirom, because of his past as a mercenary and gladiator and because what sets him apart is his sexuality. Jirom is gay and I liked that in the context of the Akeshian Empire this isn't a problem, there are several such pairings mentioned quite in passing, even if in other places in Sprunk's world it is taboo. The one thing that really bothered me about Jirom was the constant mention of his aching back due to an old injury, as is rather felt like a Chekov's gun that was never fired, at least not in this book.

I did like his storyline best, as he is the Spartacus figure in this book even if he's not the inspirational leader of the revolt. The third viewpoint we get is Alyra.

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Alyra is nice, with an interesting back story, but she falls into the trap of letting her agency revolve around Horace once she meets him, instead of keeping it for herself, which I found disappointing. The last main character we get a direct point of view for is Queen Byleth. She was the one who confused me the most as she generally doesn't seem to be an evil person — I mean yes, she has slavery in her kingdom which is bad, but she sincerely seems to want to do the right thing for her country — yet she cruelly has a child whipped to teach Alyra a lesson about tardiness and Alyra hates her and thinks she's cruel and unjust.

This confusion may stem from the fact that Byleth seems to swing between kindness and cruelty in her own PoV and we only see her through Horace's somewhat smitten gaze and Alyra's hostile one; it's hard to discern what's objective and what has been coloured by their opinion of her.

Her viziers, Astaptah and Mulcibar were both mysterious, though the former is clearly more of the school of Jafar, while the latter is a delight. Mulcibar is a lovely opaque character, who at first blush seems not that friendly and I loved the way the friendship between him and Horace developed. Before that I found it hard to get into the narrative and I kept getting 'distracted'. I even actively discussed putting the book down as it was a bit of a slog, but as I try to finish what I start book-wise, I kept reading and I'm glad I did, because the latter half was quite gripping.

So, mixed feelings overall, but I'd give it a cautious recommendation. This book was provided for review by the publisher. Apr 07, Dominick rated it it was amazing. It tells the tale of three people that are fighting their own war against the corrupt Akeshian Empire. Horace is a crusader who washes up on the shores of his enemies after a shipwreck.

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Jirom is a slave turned gladiator whose biggest wish is to bring down the empire that enslaved him. Their paths become intertwined and will shake the foundations of the empire. Horace finds himself in a web of lies and deceit in an empire where power display is everything, where showing or hiding weakness means the difference between a position of power or certain death. Sprunk tells his story from every angle, not only from the point of view from the good guys, but also from the other side.

In this case from the point of view of queen Byleth. This is an approach I really like and it gives the author a lot of room for character development.

Sprunk takes this opportunity with both hands and develops that masterfully. This character development is one of the main reasons that Jon Sprunk has become one of my favourite authors. Horace is the main protagonist and a man with a sad past, which was revealed gradually throughout the book, through flashbacks. Despite being washed up on the shores of his enemies and being captured as a slave, Horace tries to make the best of the situation to become a free man again. What hinders the answer to this question? Dislikes, jealousies, hatreds, -- undoubtedly like the race hatred in East St.

Louis; the jealousy of English and German; the dislike of the Jew and the Gentile. But these are, after all, surface disturbances, sprung from ancient habit more than from present reason. They persist and are encouraged because of deeper, mightier currents. If the white workingmen of East St. Louis felt sure that Negro workers would not and could not take the bread and cake from their mouths, their race hatred would never have been translated into murder. If the black workingmen of the South could earn a decent living under decent circumstances at home, they would not be compelled to underbid their white fellows.

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Thus the shadow of hunger, in a world which never needs to be hungry, drives us to war and murder and hate. But why does hunger shadow so vast a mass of men? Manifestly because in the great organizing of men for work a few of the participants come out with more wealth than they can possibly use, while a vast number emerge with less than can decently support life. In earlier economic stages Several of its essays are personal in nature, with obvious emotional rhetoric.

The style maintains a religious tone and his spirituality is a common thread in many of the individual essays. Described in varying tones of black and brown, a Christ-like figure of racial hope is prevalent, signifying the coming moment of racial confrontation and eventual salvation.

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This figure is one which Du Bois characterizes as the bearer of eternal freedom from discrimination , poverty, and from the color line itself. Rooney has a ruthlessly beady eye and an effortless comic style. Her second novel, a love story across the class divide called Normal People , will be published in September. Guy Gunaratne Gunaratne worked as a video journalist reporting on post-conflict zones before writing his blazing polyphonic debut In Our Mad and Furious City , out next month.

These include a would-be grime artist and a teenager resisting Islamic radicalisation, as well as older immigrants from Belfast and the West Indies. It interrogates family, community and masculinity as it tells the story of Michael and Francis, the sons of a Trinidadian single mother, coming of age in the s in a poor immigrant neighbourhood. Having taken on immortality, the Dublin-based writer is set to tackle the end of the world, in what promises to be a companionable and quick-witted exploration of apocalyptic anxieties.

William Davies One of the most interesting commentators on political ideas, Davies teaches political economy and sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, and is the author of two books, The Happi ness Industry and The Limits of Neoliberalism. He is as lively discussing Brexit and the culture of the Home Office as he is the current crisis in capitalism. His next study, due later this year, will be Nervous States: How Feeling Took Over the World.

James Bridle Bridle is an increasingly talked-about artist and writer who considers the relationship between technology, culture and consciousness. Among the subjects of his art are drones and self-driving cars. His ambitious debut book, New Dark Age , which argues that the digital era is radically shifting the boundaries of human experience, is out in July.

He reflects on identity and race, culture and masculinity with a thoughtfulness and lyrical elegance that conveys anger as well as a tender melancholy. But what gives his poems energy is not just that they exhibit a deft authority on plants and poisons, remedies and roadkill, but that they are equally attuned to human and digital environments. The result is a work that reveals much about the world, both ancient and modern. A rare originality of voice and vision. If, as Alan Shearer intimates in the foreword, a second book is on the way, he may turn out to be the new Frank McCourt.

Debut biographer Gordon disentangles myth from truth in The Making of Angela Carter , an elegant and well-judged life of the author. Kapka Kassabova The Bulgarian-born writer takes a journey through the mysterious region where her home country, Greece and Turkey meet. Border is a hybrid work that mixes memoir with travelogue as she putters across the land in an old Renault, recording the oral histories of the people she meets and crunching them with what she knows of the deeper past in an attempt to exorcise her own ghosts.

Patricia Lockwood Already beloved for her silly, often filthy verse, Lockwood burst into the almost mainstream with her memoir Priestdaddy , centring on her father: While her poetry is brilliantly bizarre, Priestdaddy revealed a dazzling new voice that flourishes in a longer form. Maggie Nelson The compelling topicality and novelty of her subject matter earns Nelson her place. The Argonauts is an uncategorisable book, that animates queer theory through the no-holds-barred story of her own love match with a trans man. Here are pregnancy, birth and family-making as you have never seen them before.

Her memoir is stuffed with fascinating anecdotes and great drawings that show everything from bus-borne squabbles to tight herds of sheep and abandoned cities. Hamish Steele Steele works as an animator as well as a comic book artist, and humour and energy bubble through his work. His debut, Pantheon , a savage take on Egyptian myth, was self-published after a Kickstarter campaign before being picked up by NoBrow. His new book, DeadEndia: Nick Drnaso The Illinois native picked up an LA Times book prize for his excellent debut, Beverly , a series of sad and lyrical interconnected stories.