• Book Review: "Steel, Blood, & Fire" by Allan Batchelder

    Steel, Blood, & Fire by Allan Batchelder is an engaging epic fantasy novel that incorporates immortality, magic, and the nature of courage and war. There are many elements to keep track of, but it is a gripping tale.

    The reader follows a number of character threads throughout the tale, including Vykers a ruthless warrior who is almost as bad as the man they need him to save them from and Arune, a Shaper or sorceress, who died years ago but whose conciseness and powers now resides in Vykers head until she can find another situation. Other characters include, Long Pete, a former gigolo in a small town and his friends who all get swept up in the conflict, Aoife a healer with a chilling past that drives her actions, Wims a man who is out for himself who places little value on human life, including his own, and End-of-All-Things a ruthless, psychopathic sorcerer, who is also Aoife’s brother, whose taste for blood and destruction seem limitless. There were many other quirky and interesting characters that we got to meet, all tied to the battle surrounding End-of-All-Things.

    The buildup to the final battle scenes, as well as the individual journeys of the characters, is compelling and well done. The internal conversations between Vykers had great comedic elements as well plot related material that helped Vykers defeat the End-of-All-Things and helped the characters to grow throughout the novel.
    “So, what’s next?
    “After you get out of my body, you mean?”
    Yes, well, that’s going to take a considerable amount of gold.
    Vykers stretched. “I’ve got gold. I just need to dig it out.”
    You buried it?
    “In a manner of speaking. I’ve got various...business ventures, I guess you’d call ‘em. My money’ll keep building up ten years after I’m dirt.”
    And you don’t think anyone’s stolen it?
    Vykers stared into the fire. “Terrible things happen to folks who steal from the Reaper.”
    I’ll bet."

    The reader follows their journey from initial reluctance to work together to friends who bicker with one another frequently.

    Another interesting storyline was Long Pete’s capture by End-of-All-Things, which puts him on the other side of the war from his friends. His struggle to fight for a man who stands against everything, because of love was heartbreaking at times and his frustrations were sympathetic.

    The horror of war, even when it is just, the strength of the individual, and finding inner courage were all examined within the story. The novel also creates a picture of what it means to relate to and work with other human beings in the midst of crisis and chaos, even if their motivations aren’t aligned.

    The way that the threads of the storyline came together, the quirky and unique characters, and the battle scenes were some of the best elements of the novel. It is very dialogue heavy, and the number of characters might make it a difficult for readers to follow if not paying close attention. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves epic fantasy with these elements.

    Get "Steel, Blood, & Fire" at Amazon.com

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