A Blade of Black Steel by Alex Marshall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This one surprised the hell out of me.
I mean, I liked a lot of the aspects of the first in the series, all the cussing, girl-chasing, older matron ex-queen bent on reclaiming her lost queendom, the heavy-metal aspects of getting the evil band back together and being the underdog villains amidst wonderful dialogue and demon-strewn wastelands (that they may or may not have had a part in bringing about). I was even thrilled by the effortless way that the world-building automatically assumes that sexual orientation or even reorientation or simple desire is never a negative thing. Women and men are pretty much people who do whatever the hell they want to do, and it's all grown-up choices without cultural or religious bullshit getting in the way. F/F, M/F, M/M, transgender, it doesn't matter. Things swing with story, circumstance, and plain surprising desire. I swear, if this series wasn't all about war, revenge, murder, torture, and all sorts of hellish magic and demons running the land (or sitting on one's shoulders), I'd be yelling from the treetops that this whole world was an easy, unstrained utopia that even Star Trek couldn't touch on any one of its pleasure planets.
That being said, all of this is even more evident in the second book, only it seems even more effortless and I'm loving ALL of these crazy characters even more than before.
What? The whole action from the first novel has just been superseded by a whole rising island of demons? Oh hell, what are our badass bad-guys going to do? Finish what they started, or freaking save the land?
Seriously, this book is too interesting to miss. I didn't even know which way the coin was going to toss, and I frankly didn't even care. This ride was just too fun.
It may be coming off the heels of grimdark epic fantasy, but this feels like something a lot more genuine and funny and emotional than most of the stuff I've read. Yeah, funny grimdark. Whodavethunk? I think it's the old matron's cursing as she swings her heavy metal around. Or the way her eyes can't get pried by that pretty girl's bottom while two brawny old men who'd lay their lives down for her look on like puppydogs in the old woman's direction, forlorn. Awwww.
And then there's so much awesome demon shit, warlocks, totally nasty battles, and totally emotional battles, too, wrenching the way only a good story can wrench.
I've gone over, pretty fully, to this dark side, this bad boy (or girl) of epic fantasy. I've read quite a few and somehow, this one is just kicking my ass in a really good way.
Now, I'm pretty much going crazy with the idea that I'm going to have to wait for the next. Grrrrr...
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