Touch of Iron (The Living Blade #1) by Timandra Whitecastle
*I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*
The book blurb;
‘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 sees a once-in-a-lifetime chance to gain untold knowledge.
… but for Noraya Smith, the Living Blade will bring nothing but suffering and sorrow.’
Touch of Iron tells the story of Norayah Smith and her twin brother Owen. They have run from their home village and find themselves ambushed by an exiled prince and his troupe, which includes a half-wight pilgrim named Telen Diaz. The exiled prince is on a quest for the Living Blade so that he can dethrone his sister and become emperor.
Every now and then you are presented with an opportunity to read something that you just know you’re going to love. I received the email from Timandra Whitecastle and she pitched it perfectly; “it’s a grimdark novel…similar to Joe Abercrombie”…SOLD!
This book did not disappoint. First of all, the characters are few and therefore are given the space to be fleshed out and explored fully. Their trials and tribulations are numerous and arduous; there is a certain reality to the characters. There is a romantic element in the story and this is misguided, often unrequited and mostly impossible. What I did like, was the fact that the protagonist, Nora, is fiery and strong-willed, and unafraid to say her mind, and this didn’t become annoying or frustrating as I have found can often happen. Time and time again I have read female characters who are strong but are still sappy, naïve and hapless, not here; Nora is a real focal point of this story and her character is a major positive.
The other characters all play their part and have distinct personalities formed by their experiences and by their goals. Telen Diaz is brilliant and brings so much to the story, his past is complex and far from straightforward and he slowly starts to pen up during the journey.
The antagonist, Suranna, is just pure evil. She is given a lot of time to prove her ability to be delicious, inviting, and poisonous; a real serpent. She is one who captured my attention immediately and who I wanted to hate but I just couldn’t, because without a real antagonist, how would a hero prove themselves? The world created by the author is another plus and introduces different gods and ancient artefacts that can shape the landscape and they can have a real influence on humanity.
This is a pure grimdark novel that doesn’t pull any punches and delivers the action with real grit and intensity. The quest that the characters find themselves on is not wholly noble and, for some of them, not voluntary. The author is not afraid to sacrifice anybody, whether it be physically or mentally. As a warning, there is some expletives within the story and, as such, would not be suitable for children – something you’d expect in this genre. I really enjoyed this book and will be fighting my way to the front of the line to read the second in the series when it’s published.