Sasha by Joel Shepherd

(7.7/10)

Every now and again I am surprised by a book that turns out to be entirely genuine and entertaining. Many books come to me with the foreknowledge that they are such, and many more simply fail to live up to hype. So when I picked up Sasha by Joel Shepherd at my Borders the other week, I hoped that the blurb would come through as being at least somewhat decent.

Thankfully, Sasha comes out way ahead of “somewhat decent,” despite a few flaws in sentence flow and grammar.

The story focuses primarily on Sasha, a princess who has spurned the traditional royal upbringing to live with a sword master – her uman – in a rustic town that she loves much more. Horses, sword training, ale and more sword training make up her life, as she studies the svaalverd, a specialized style of sword fighting that is above any other, under the tutelage of the Lenayin hero, Kessligh Cronenverdt.

Without resorting to masses of exposition, Joel Shepherd manages to weave into the story the political intrigues facing a country with a state religion, and a historical religion. There is racial hatred, religious vilification, noble squabbles and a desire for more noble powers. Court intrigues in the royal family, scheming nobles and princes, and a headstrong princess who refuses to recognize her heritage.

And all without ever making you bored with the story.

There have been authors who have totally misunderstood the idea of including political plotlines into their stories. They believe that they can just fit in without any work. These authors usually fail dismally, as their stories continually become bogged down in the mire of real politics.

However Shepherd, and his contemporaries, manages to never lose the reader’s attention. What is more, Shepherd makes us not only love the protagonist, but see that she is flawed. This is another trap that authors can make, writing their character as flawless. This leaves no growth available for the character, and leaves us entirely bored whenever we are encountered with their perspective.

One of the few flaws with this book is the occasional lack of time Shepherd invests in his characters. We are sometimes left with characters that are angry for angers sake or inexcusably grumpy. Including a standoffish character who does not often reveal his feelings is ok, but often it is wise to include the reasoning behind that, rather than just allowing us to blunder along blindly. It builds resentment to a character which is not always necessarily reasonable.

That being said, the few flaws that lightly pepper this book are not enough for me to suggest you do not read it. The whole book had me hardly able to put it down, and my perpetual human need for sleep continually stood in the way of decent reading time. The vague allusions towards what will come in the sequel (currently available) Petrodor has me eager to read more. This is definitely a book you will want to pick up. Not the worlds hardest read, but downright and thoroughly enjoyable.

Review by

All reviews for Joel Shepherd's A Trial of Blood and Steel series


Sasha
A Trial of Blood and Steel: Book 1
7.7

Sasha is a princess, the like of which the highland country of Lenayin has never seen before. But she turns her back on her regal heritage and trains under the great warrio [...]


Petrodor
A Trial of Blood and Steel: Book 2
9.0

Sasha, the wilful but talented heroine, returns to battle in Joel Shepherd s stunning second volume of A Trial of Blood & Steel quartet.Away from the hills of her Lenay [...]


Tracato
A Trial of Blood and Steel: Book 3
9.4

The net is really closing in now, with the whole of Rhodia at war and the serrin - the beautiful and dangerous people from beyond the Bacosh - fighting for survival. [...]


Haven
A Trial of Blood and Steel: Book 4
9.6

Rich with political intrigue and wrangling between the lords of Vethrene faith and the rural folk who follow the tradition of the Goeren-yai, this is the story of Sasha. Ra [...]

12+

Sasha reader reviews

from Australia

I had fallen out of reading fantasy for a long while until I found this book. And within a few weeks had finished the series. It captured me from the start and didn't let me go. Sasha and the characters surrounding her are so beautifully written and provide entertaining and thought provoking dialogue between them. Sasha will be one of my favourite books that I will reread every year.

from Dominican Republic

Well, I found the book because it has my name and I found it interesting but I'll like that the translate the book on spanish! That's all I ask.

7.6/10 from 3 reviews

Write a reader review

Your rating out of 10

Books you may also enjoy

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

by NK Jemisin

Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky - a palace above the [...]

Series: The Inheritance Trilogy: Book 1
Published: 2010

Score: 106

Our rating: 10.0 | 6 positive reader reviews

15+

The Hero of Ages

by Brandon Sanderson

Tricked into releasing the evil spirit Ruin while attempting to close the Well of Ascension, new emperor Elend Venture and his wife, the assassin Vin, are now hard-pressed [...]

Series: Mistborn: Book 3
Published: 2008

Score: 109

Our rating: 10.0 | 9 positive reader reviews

12+

The Raven Tower

by Ann Leckie

For centuries the kingdom of Iraden has been protected by a god known as the Raven. But in their hour of need, the Raven speaks nothing to its people. It is into this unres [...]

Series: NA
Published: 2019

Score: 102

Our rating: 10.0 | 2 positive reader reviews

15+

Nevernight

by Jay Kristoff

Nevernight is the first in an epic new fantasy series from the New York Times bestselling author, Jay Kristoff.In a land where three suns almost never [...]

Series: The Nevernight Chronicle #1
Published: 2016

Score: 100

Our rating: 10.0 | 0 positive reader reviews

15+

Touch of Iron

by Timandra Whitecastle

Is the Living Blade real or just a legend? With it... Prince Bashan could win back his kingdom. Master Telen Diaz can free himself of the burden from his past. Owen Smith s [...]

Series: The Living Blade: Book 1
Published: 2016

Score: 100

Our rating: 10.0 | 0 positive reader reviews

15+

A Storm of Swords 1: Steel and Snow

by George RR Martin

Blood runs truer than oaths. The Seven Kingdoms are divided by revolt and blood feud as winter approaches like an angry beast. In the northern wastes a horde of hungry, sav [...]

Series: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 3
Published: 2000

Score: 104

Our rating: 9.9 | 5 positive reader reviews

15+

Legend

by David Gemmell

Druss, Captain of the Axe, whose fame was legendary, had chosen to wait for death in a mountain hideaway. But mighty Dros Delnoch, the last stronghold of the Drenai Empire, [...]

Series: The Drenai Novels: Book 1
Published: 1984

Score: 107

Our rating: 9.8 | 9 positive reader reviews

15+

The Priory of the Orange Tree

by Samantha Shannon

A world divided.A queendom without an heir.An ancient enemy awakens.The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen S [...]

Series: NA
Published: 2019

Score: 99

Our rating: 9.8 | 1 positive reader reviews

12+

Half a King

by Joe Abercrombie

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 [...]

Series: Shattered Sea #1
Published: 2014

Score: 102

Our rating: 9.7 | 5 positive reader reviews

12+