Book Reviews

Steelhaven Trilogy Review

Herald of the Storm (Steelhaven book 1).

The Shattered Crown (Steelhaven book 2).

Lord of Ashes (Steelhaven book 3).

Richard Ford.

Overall rating: 5 stars out of 5.

Herald of the Storm, the book blurb:

Welcome to Steelhaven…

Under the reign of King Cael the Uniter, this vast cityport on the southern coast has for years been a symbol of strength, maintaining an uneasy peace throughout the Free States.

But now a long shadow hangs over the city, in the form of the dread Elharim warlord, Amon Tugha. When his herald infiltrates the city, looking to exploit its dangerous criminal underworld, and a terrible dark magick that has long been buried once again begins to rise, it could be the beginning of the end.

Steelhaven is the capital city of the Free States, ruled over by the ageing King Cael the Uniter in a time of uneasy peace. But now the Elharim warlord Amon Tugha is marching to take the city with a massive Khurda horde at his command.

Review:

The cast of characters are all of the usual fantasy stereotype. Massoum Abbasi a spy, the young princess Janessa, Kaira Stormfall a female warrior, Merrick Ryder an indebt drunkard and swindler/gambler, Rag a street urchin, Noble Jacks a troubled blacksmith, Waylian a young apprentice in the arts of magic and River an assassin. But what sets them apart from similar characters in the genre is their actual characterisation and the levels of growth and development they show as you progress through the book.

The entire book takes place in the city port of the trilogy title, Steelhaven, the vast capital city of the Free States, with only an occasional glimpse of the wider world shown and surprisingly this works really well, as the author has managed to create a large diverse lanscape all set in a single place. On a personal note I’d like to see more of the surrounding realms in future books as from the glimpses given I think the author has the ability to create a rich vast world.

Not to much is written about the actual history of Steelhaven and how certain things in the world have come to be, I don’t know if the author did this on purpose as he’s saving writing about the history for the sequel or not, but it doesn’t impact the quality of the book. However I’d like to know more about the history of the city, the wars that have taken place and how a unified peace was formed in the Free States.

There are alot of characters, written with the point of view style chapter and at the beginning of the book it’s rather slow going as each character is individually introduced but after the initial introductions have taken place and the story starts swapping between them, then the pace soon picks up and becomes a very entertaining character driven read.

The only thing I should mention that may put some readers off is the lack of the main marauding army of the Elharim warlord Amon Tugha storyline, the main story is there, but it only plays a small part and is the secondary focus of the whole book with the main focus being kept on the individual story arcs of the characters.

It’s a decent first book in the trilogy with some good characters, plot twists and action that are all more than enough to make you want to read the sequel.

The Shattered Crown, the book blurb:

Heroes must rise …

The King is dead. His daughter, untested and alone, now wears the Steel Crown. And a vast horde is steadily carving a bloody road south, hell-bent on razing Steelhaven to the ground

… or the city will fall

Before the city faces the terror that approaches, it must crush the danger already lurking within its walls. But will the cost of victory be as devastating as that of defeat?

Review:

This is the second book in the Steelhaven trilogy and follows on directly from the events at the conclusion of the first book (Herald of the Storm).

Janessa is now queen, Rag a member of the guild, Kaira and Merrick members of the Sentinels, Waylian an apprentice magister and Nobul Jacks a member of the cities Greencoats. Again we follow their story arcs but are also given a new character with his own chapters and story arc, Regulus a Zatani of the Gor’tana tribe.

No need to go into detail about the returning characters we know from the first book, all continue to show growth. The addition of Regulus as a new point of view character is a decent addition and it gives the world a wider feel as his story arc starts outside the walls of Steelhaven.

At first I wasn’t to sure about Regulus and the Gor’tana but by the end of the book my opinion had changed and I found them to be surprisingly well developed, enjoyed reading about them and thought they fitted in with and complemented the overall story really well.

This is an enjoyable read from start to finish, in Steelhaven the author has crafted a city that you can easily get lost in. Sometimes the second book in a trilogy canbe abit slow and lag as it focuses on building upto the series climax in the third book, but not here, the pages and story just fly by.

This felt far more like a complete book than Herald of the Storm did, while a great read that book didn’t really focus on the main trilogy story arc of Amon Tugha and his Khurta horde marching on Steelhaven, it was always in the background and the book focused mainly on the individual characters stories with only the occasional character overlap. Here most of the characters and story arcs converge together giving a far more coherent and complete read and for readers of the first book that found the main story arc lacking, it plays a far more prominent role here.

Please don’t read this book if you haven’t read book 1: Herald of the Storm first, it’s well worth your time and you will get far more out of the characters and their stories if you do.

A quality continuation of the series, with an epic cliffhanger ending that leaves you wanting more and waiting to know what happens next!

Lord of Ashes, the book blurb:

FIGHT TO THE DEATH…

The queen of Steelhaven has grown in strength. Taking up her dead father’s sword, she must defend the city from the dread warlord Amon Tugha and his blood-thirsty army now at the gates. A vicious, unrelenting four-day battle ensues, the most perilous yet.

…OR BOW TO THE ENEMY

No side is immune from danger as all hell breaks loose, with the threat of coups and the unleashing of the deadliest and darkest magick. Loyalty, strength and cunning will be put to test in the quest for victory. What fate awaits the free states?

Review:

Not to much to write about the third book in the trilogy without spoiling the story any further, which I won’t do as I’ve gone over the story in my reviews for the first two books and this brings the series to a close, concluding the major story arcs from throughout.

If you haven’t read the first two then I ask you, why not? You could technically read this book without first having read the previous two but that’s really deceiving the point of reading the third in a trilogy!

The author has honed his writing to create a fitting ending to this quality trilogy of fantasy novels, you get concluded story arcs of characters and continued high quality world building to bring this series to an end, as it’s fantasy their not all happy endings but that’s the nature of the genre!

I’ve read alot of good reviews for this series but also some negative ones, for what my humble opinion is worth, I read alot of fantasy,  I personally  found this to be an underrated gem of a trilogy that given the chance will appeal to a wide range of fantasy fans out there.

Highly recommended!

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