Haven by Joel Shepherd
A Recommended Book of the Month
Joel Shepherd’s ‘A Trial of Blood & Steel’ has been a fantasy series unlike so many that populate the shelves of our local bookstores (electronic or otherwise). It has much of the flavour of Robin Hobb’s ‘The Realm of the Elderlings’ series, with political wrangling and lessons in right versus wrong. Finishing this series was sad, but only in the way that finishing the last of the ice cream is sad, ie, there is no more.
‘Haven’ was the final book in Shepherd’s series, and saw the culmination of all that had come before it; both the story and characters, and in Shepherd’s own writing abilities.
The story has always been one that fascinated me, focusing much less on the ‘fantastical’ aspects of the fantasy genre and more on the implications of living alongside another race entirely. Blended into this was the impact of human religion and the natural undercurrent of fear, bloodlust and a desire to see everyone bend to human will.
You cannot write a book like this – with its look at human will and fear – without great characters, and Shepherd certainly knows how to write wonderful characters.
Our lead character, Sasha, has grown in wisdom and maturity since the first moment we met her, and finishes out this series a shining beacon of humanity, cast so well against the backdrop of the worst of humanity. She has increased control over her temper, grown in understanding of the politics and situations around her, and all without ever losing her killer grasp of the sword.
But over the length of the four books in this series, other characters have grown to importance. Characters that are both loved and hated fight for your attention, and you want them to have it as well. The world around Sasha is explored and understood through her interactions with others, and the interaction of those others with the world around them.
Above all I was unsurprised to see myself in tears as the final pages of the book shocked me and saddened me. People I have loved, and people I have hated have brought me to tears with their actions and ends.
This book is the final book of four, so no, I don’t recommend reading it without reading the other three. But all the books have done their utmost to entertain me without resorting to mindless fantasy tropes, and succeeded each and every time to the point that I look forward to the day – not too far from now, I imagine – that I get to go back and reread them.
This Haven book review was written by Joshua S Hill
All reviews for: A Trial of Blood and Steel
A Trial of Blood and Steel: Book 1
A Trial of Blood and Steel: Book 2
A Trial of Blood and Steel: Book 3
A Trial of Blood and Steel: Book 4
Have you read Haven?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Haven reader reviews
9.6/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear while the Lord Ruler reigned with absolute power ...
Half a King
Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself. And he must do it al...
The Faithful and The Fallen
Young Corban watches enviously as boys become warriors, learning the art of war. He yearns to wield his sword and spear to protect his king’s realm. But that day will...
The Farseer Trilogy
In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma. Born on the wrong side of the sheets,...
The World Tree rises up out of the seething clouds like a green mountain, lifting its children up to the light. All creation nestles in its gigantic branches: all take shel...
Hope and Red
In a fracturing empire spread across savage seas, two people find a common cause. Hope, the lone survivor of a village massacred by the emperor's forces, is secretly tr...
The Banished Lands are engulfed in war and chaos. The cunning Queen Rhin has conquered the west and High King Nathair has the cauldron, most powerful of the seven treasures...
In the cramped west end of Sharakhai, the Amber Jewel of the Desert, Çeda fights in the pits to scrape a living. She, like so many in the city, pray for the downfall...
The Black God's War
Moses Siregar III
Against the backdrop of epic warfare and the powers of ten mysterious gods, Lucia struggles to understand The Black One. Her father-king wants war. Her messianic brother wa...
Wall of Night
The violence of an age-old war casts a long shadow. It falls on a world where mercy is weakness and conflict is a way of life. Young Malian is being trained to rule. Her pe...
Long ago, the evil God Torak fought a war to obtain an object of immense power - the Orb of Aldur. But Torak was defeated and the Orb reclaimed by Belgarath, the sorcerer. ...
The Emperor's Soul
Shai is a Forger, a foreigner who can flawlessly copy and re-create any item by rewriting its history with skilful magic. Condemned to death after trying to steal the emper...
Hunt for Valamon
When Crown Prince Valamon is impossibly taken from the heart of Algaris Castle, the only clue as to motive or culprit is the use of unknown sorcery. Reclusive cleric Seris ...
Four millennia have passed since the gods came to Myrillia, creating the nine lands of peace as a haven from the nightmarish, accursed Hinterlands. In all this time nothing...
In a land where magic has been forgotten and peace has reigned for centuries, unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms battle for power… A princess must journey into enem...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
- Recommended high fantasy books/series
- Recommended books/series featuring royalty, monarchy and empire
Best of 2016
Hope and Red
In a fracturing empire spread across savage seas, two people find a common cause. Hope, the lone survivor of a village massacred by the emperor's forces, is secretly train...
The Star Touched Queen
Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Content to follow more ...
The Pagan Night
Ruling with an iron hand, the Church has eliminated the ancient pagan ways. Yet demonic gheists terrorize the land, hunted by the Inquisition, while age-old hatreds rage betwe...
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
Ceda, now a Blade Maiden in service to the kings of Sharakhai, trains as one of their elite warriors, gleaning secrets even as they send her on covert missions to further their rule. She knows the dark history of the asirim--that hundreds of years ago they were enslaved to the kings against their will--but when she bonds with them as a Maiden, c...
Dead Men Naked
After the sudden death of his best friend Neil, involving a 6-foot giant crow and quite some Tequila, Lou’s life takes an unexpected turn towards the impossible. As L...
Age of Assassins
Girton Club-Foot, apprentice to the land's best assassin, still has much to learn about the art of taking lives. But their latest mission tasks him and his master with ...
A Conjuring of Light
The precarious equilibrium among the four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empi...
Sebastien de Castell
Falcio val Mond, First Cantor of the Greatcoats, is on the brink of fulfilling his dead King's dream: Aline is about to take the throne and restore the rule of law once...
The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart
Edinburgh, 1874. On the coldest night the world has ever seen, Little Jack is born with a frozen heart and immediately undergoes a life-saving operation. But Dr Madeleine i...
The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow's Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow...