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A Blade of Black Steel

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A Blade of Black Steel PDF, ePub eBook The sequel to Alex Marshall's A Crown for Cold Silver, an outstanding, game-changing epic adventure featuring an unforgettable female warrior. After five hundred years, the Sunken Kingdom has returned, and brought with it a monstrous secret that threatens to destroy every country on the Star. As an inhuman army gathers on its shores, poised to invade the Immaculate Isles, th The sequel to Alex Marshall's A Crown for Cold Silver, an outstanding, game-changing epic adventure featuring an unforgettable female warrior. After five hundred years, the Sunken Kingdom has returned, and brought with it a monstrous secret that threatens to destroy every country on the Star. As an inhuman army gathers on its shores, poised to invade the Immaculate Isles, the members of the Cobalt Company face an ugly choice: abandon their dreams of glory and vengeance to combat a menace from another realm, or pursue their ambitions and hope the Star is still there when the smoke clears. Five villains. One legendary general. A battle for survival.

30 review for A Blade of Black Steel

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    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 s 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...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kaora

    I admit I didn't enjoy this as much as I did the first hence the one star rating. There were moments where the dialogue was clever and witty but it seemed much more sparse than it was in the first. It also seemed like there was a lot of woe-is-me attitudes and not as much action. I was expecting more out of this book than it gave me. Hopefully the third installment is good.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Beatrice Vincent

    Honestly I was both excited and nervous when I started this - how could it possibly live up to the triumph that was A Crown for Cold Silver? But rest assured it did. I never thought I would see the day when I said "how about instead of this love triangle we have polyamory" and the creator of the work said, "hoo boy are you gonna be pleased with this." How am I going to survive the wait until the next instalment?

  4. 4 out of 5

    Reader73

    Almost deserves the 5 stars, very entertaining.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Trevor Sherman

    Just finished but it had Some things I really liked Ill get the review done soon

  6. 4 out of 5

    Simon Ellberger

    “A Blade of Black Steel” is the second book of a series—a follow-up to the excellent “A Crown for Cold Silver,” which absolutely must be read before this book. The transition between the two is meant to be the responsibility of the reader as the author begins the new story with no summary of the first novel, and some may find this to be a problem. For those who don’t, there is a prologue that subtly sets the stage for the story in a fashion as black and strong as the title. And it does so decept “A Blade of Black Steel” is the second book of a series—a follow-up to the excellent “A Crown for Cold Silver,” which absolutely must be read before this book. The transition between the two is meant to be the responsibility of the reader as the author begins the new story with no summary of the first novel, and some may find this to be a problem. For those who don’t, there is a prologue that subtly sets the stage for the story in a fashion as black and strong as the title. And it does so deceptively, misdirecting the reader in a way that reminded me of the equally sharp misdirection of the “prologue” (titled “The End”) of Joe Abercrombie’s “The Blade Itself”: a low gun aimed at the tight tropes of high fantasy. “A Blade of Black Steel” has character; it’s about people coping with their perceptions—perceptions that guide and mislead them into actions that have consequences that become lost in time and space. It’s a very character-driven story, more so than "A Crown for Cold Silver," and each of the surviving individuals from "A Crown for Cold Silver" develop in unexpected ways, opening new perspectives and understandings about them, with some secrets getting revealed; in most cases, we are left with an opposite view of who these beings are or have become, when compared with their “A Crown for Cold Silver” versions, making them seem like different creatures altogether. And they are fascinating to watch. I especially had a lot of fun seeing the witchy, twitchy Hoartrap get in touch with others while being out of touch with how he is viewed in his touching relationships… At times he acted more like a Whoretrap than a Hoartrap, even getting in bed with a more-than-major character… There are also new characters introduced with their own quiddities, quirks, and queer mysteries. Are they as interesting as the original ones? Best of all, you might say. There is a lot of interactive conversation between everybody throughout the novel, which is needed for character movement; the trade-off is that the pacing suffers from it. The plot is full of enormity, and it centers on the aftermath and results of the Battle of the Lark’s Tongue, the climactic, caliginous clash of “A Crown for Cold Silver.” New subplots and twists are introduced, and the story moves inexorably forward. And when there is fighting, it’s often on a devilishly grand scale. Hoartrap gets to spin quite a tail :) that is a prelude to a ludic tall tale worthy of singing about. The worldbuilding, which was a huge focus of “A Crown for Cold Silver,” continues on, part of which includes exploring new places, in particular the Sunken Kingdom, Jex Toth, where Maroto gets some bang-up action. And if you love craft, you’ll get a cosmic share. The writing style is quite ingenious, varying from section to section, depending on who is the focus. The prose can be intentionally twee, or full of contemporary urban slang, or deadly formal. My favorite sections are those dealing with Indsorith, which range in tone from dark to horrific. The book’s themes, on the other hand, are consistently serious. This includes dealing with religious fundamentalism through irony, and illustrating how even the benevolent use of power can be corrupted by those acting in its name, leaving everyone involved with blame. There is plenty of crimson blood to spare and share. I found this to be a powerful examination of power. This is a series that will definitely have an immaculate third book, and I’ll be buying it (as will, in all likelihood, several of the protagonists).

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

    WOW. Easily the best book I've read all year. I am in LOVE with this series. This is one of those reviews where I'll have to try really hard not to ramble excitedly and I'll surely forget half of what I want to say. I am absolutely amazed by the depth of this story, both in its themes and its character development. Unbelievably satisfying character development, at that. Alliances shift, and what originally seems to be a sinister act turns out to have a rational purpose; likewise, something rationa WOW. Easily the best book I've read all year. I am in LOVE with this series. This is one of those reviews where I'll have to try really hard not to ramble excitedly and I'll surely forget half of what I want to say. I am absolutely amazed by the depth of this story, both in its themes and its character development. Unbelievably satisfying character development, at that. Alliances shift, and what originally seems to be a sinister act turns out to have a rational purpose; likewise, something rational ends up being quite sinister. There is no black and white, but instead several intriguing shades of grey. There is heartbreak and triumph. Plenty of adventure, exploration, mystery, and drama. Once again. Alex Marshall impresses me immensely with this fantasy world where women are men have the same rights and opportunities, where sexual orientation is not an issue in the slightest (gay, straight, bi, etc... all accepted and completely normal) There are several really awesome gay characters, women and men both, who are not stereotypical in the least and are both kicka$$ and original. Totally a breath of fresh air. And now, I'm even more floored by the addition of not just one, but several transgender characters, all of whom are extremely formidable and treated with complete dignity. This is unheard of and I LOVE IT. I love how Alex Marshall turns every single fantasy trope on its head. It is a delight to read. Characters come together in groups, then events happen and they're split apart in different pairings and combinations, and the effect is always to enrich them all. I love that about a story. As a reader, you really feel as if you're getting to know these characters well, and personally, I can't help but love most of them, not in spite of but because of their flaws. This book--and the entire story arc--gets better with each page. I am awestruck. WELL DONE, ALEX MARSHALL. I can't WAIT to see what comes next.

  8. 5 out of 5

    John

    Like the opener Marshall crafts some great characters and puts them into multitudinous plotlines that all have good bones---then buries the whole enterprise beneath reeking tons of verbiage that, waaaay more often than not, serves not to advance any part of the story but only fill up the pages. I found that the best way to read this was just to skim anything that wasn't dialog. What a waste of effort on the author's part. I'll still probably tackle the sequels, at least until the main story star Like the opener Marshall crafts some great characters and puts them into multitudinous plotlines that all have good bones---then buries the whole enterprise beneath reeking tons of verbiage that, waaaay more often than not, serves not to advance any part of the story but only fill up the pages. I found that the best way to read this was just to skim anything that wasn't dialog. What a waste of effort on the author's part. I'll still probably tackle the sequels, at least until the main story starts to lose steam. Lines to savor: "See, we've cooked up another desperate fight against insurmountable odds, just for you! Doesn't that put a little spring in your step?" "...sure, y0u tore open a hole in this world leading straight to hell, to say nothing of summoning back the Sunken Kingdom, but hey, at least you've got your health." But just when you think you've seen everything, a giant hell gerbil shows up to broaden your horizons. They landed together, anyway, on a bed of squealing, biting, clawing monsters, and it said a lot about the day she'd been having that this came as an improvement. "...he's about as subtle as a hobnail boot to the snatch." ...that just goes to show you never really know anybody until you've spent some time hiding under their bed. "Well, damn. I've seen ugly and I know stupid, but I didn't know they had a baby." "Threatened by devil dogs, dragged about by giants, dragged about and threatened by giant devil dogs--enough, I say, enough."

  9. 5 out of 5

    Keith Pishnery

    A Crown For Cold Silver was my favorite book of 2016. I loved that it relished in subverting epic fantasy tropes and having a sense of humor. Felt a bit more relatable and modern than most swords and sorcery. It had a gobsmacking weird cliffhanger and I was excited to see where it would go in the middle volume. Somewhere I saw this called Empire Strikes Back and that's pretty apt. There is a lot of swashbuckling here, but it's also a dark hour for our heroes, with foes new and old coming at all A Crown For Cold Silver was my favorite book of 2016. I loved that it relished in subverting epic fantasy tropes and having a sense of humor. Felt a bit more relatable and modern than most swords and sorcery. It had a gobsmacking weird cliffhanger and I was excited to see where it would go in the middle volume. Somewhere I saw this called Empire Strikes Back and that's pretty apt. There is a lot of swashbuckling here, but it's also a dark hour for our heroes, with foes new and old coming at all angles. There's even some Boba Fetts and Yodas if you squint your eyes. That said, I didn't have quite as much fun with this one as the first one. I wager that's because it's a more known world and a bit of the mystery and build-up are gone. There's some stagnation happening in one plotline that feels like some wheel spinning, but then on the other side, there is the balls-out insanity that happens at the end of Part One. The WTF chapter I've ever seen in a fantasy book, I think. Not entirely sure where this is going to wrap up, but I have no doubt it's going to be one fun ride in the concluding volume. Marshall (or Jesse Bullington) is surely throwing in the kitchen sink on this one and I can only imagine it escalates further. Also, Zosia is still cranky.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Forsyth

    Like the most perfect LGBTQ+ Dungeons and Dragons campaign ever. Funny, full of thrilling action, and constantly surprising, the only complaint I have is that it gets a little bogged down in the middle.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Carey

    I love this book (and the first) so much that I bought it in hardback and ebook. I haven't read the third yet, but this series is so good I bought that one twice too. And my husband used an Audible credit on the first one. The Song of the Lioness quartet were the queer books I needed when I was a tween. The Crimson Empire books are the queer books I need as an adult. I know different people are going to take different things away from these books, and I want to say that this is one of the most e I love this book (and the first) so much that I bought it in hardback and ebook. I haven't read the third yet, but this series is so good I bought that one twice too. And my husband used an Audible credit on the first one. The Song of the Lioness quartet were the queer books I needed when I was a tween. The Crimson Empire books are the queer books I need as an adult. I know different people are going to take different things away from these books, and I want to say that this is one of the most engaging sword and sorcery type fantasy series I have ever read. The characters are easy to relate to, even if their problems are on a much bigger scale (except Hoartrap because wtf?). And the story is fun AF. But for me, my favorite thing, is that the Star doesn't give a shit about gender. A lot of things can hold a character back in this messed up world but gender isn't one of them. A lot of really awesome gender and sexuality stuff is going on in YA fiction, but it's important for adults to relate to that stuff too. It's not like we grow out of queerness. Other non-spoilery things I like: Zosia calling Hoartrap a bag of dicks Diggleby calling the Pope a dog butt Bang's look The fact that Best wouldn't bother threatening to turn this car around - she'd just do it The love of a woman for her war hammer

  12. 5 out of 5

    Errrrrrick

    This is the second book in a series, so you probably know what you'll think of it based on the first, so I'll keep it brief: Pros: All the cool relationship and sexual orientation stuff from the first book is back and bigger and better than ever. The big bad appears and things start rolling. Cons: The split up party that means the story has to jump from location to location to follow all the action is also back (and there's a even a couple of new characters introduced). It's not necessarily bad, This is the second book in a series, so you probably know what you'll think of it based on the first, so I'll keep it brief: Pros: All the cool relationship and sexual orientation stuff from the first book is back and bigger and better than ever. The big bad appears and things start rolling. Cons: The split up party that means the story has to jump from location to location to follow all the action is also back (and there's a even a couple of new characters introduced). It's not necessarily bad, but it slows things down. Overall, gave it five stars because I like spending time with these characters and there is some good character growth, but more plot advancement would have been really, really nice. High hopes that everything is set up and in place and the third book moves more quickly.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    4.5 stars. This was everything I wanted the first book in the series to be. I did like the first book, but had a number of issues with it. I also think some of the characters took some warming up to, and I came around to most of them in this installment. We're clearly in the Empire Strikes Back phase of the series, which I usually find to be the best part of a fantasy trilogy. The story became more compelling in this book as well, and you can't beat Marshall's sense of humor. Bonus points because 4.5 stars. This was everything I wanted the first book in the series to be. I did like the first book, but had a number of issues with it. I also think some of the characters took some warming up to, and I came around to most of them in this installment. We're clearly in the Empire Strikes Back phase of the series, which I usually find to be the best part of a fantasy trilogy. The story became more compelling in this book as well, and you can't beat Marshall's sense of humor. Bonus points because despite all the jokes and ridiculousness, the story never becomes farcical. It's still a pretty dope epic fantasy, it just adds humor and levity, which most of the genre severely lacks. I still have a few quibbles: still too many long stretches where nothing of import happens, and WAY too much of the Dead! No, not Dead! thing, which is a plague run rampant through this genre and the most obnoxious thing ever. I get the value of it upon occasion, but here we see it upwards of ten times in one chapter. "And then Purna was decapitated. Except she wasn't." REALLY? And then there's Ji-hyeon...ugh. Double ugh. A few other observations: Maroto and Purna get most of the best lines, and that makes them the most likable for the most part, but a nod to Singh as well, who is underused as a character, and to Zosia, who is terrific as ever. Hoartrap isn't exactly, um, likable, but he's a great character. Someone needs to smack Sullen. Several times if necessary. The hell gerbil? And the action sequence surrounding the hell gerbil? Brilliant. Teenagers make terrible popes. Shocker. Excited for the next installment.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A great continuation from the previous book A Crown for Cold Silver which follows the established characters from the previous book and expands heavily on their backstories as well as continuing on with their war against the chained! :D The revival of the Sunken Kingdom of Jex Toth is handled well and in a kind of insect way in that slowly start to take a more dominant role as the book carries on and this is sure to have an impact in later books! :D We also get to see Zosia and Indsorith's relatio A great continuation from the previous book A Crown for Cold Silver which follows the established characters from the previous book and expands heavily on their backstories as well as continuing on with their war against the chained! :D The revival of the Sunken Kingdom of Jex Toth is handled well and in a kind of insect way in that slowly start to take a more dominant role as the book carries on and this is sure to have an impact in later books! :D We also get to see Zosia and Indsorith's relationship explored which adds much depth to the characters! :D Morato also takes centre stage introducing us first had to the pirate Queen Bang who some proclivities that will make you laugh hard as well as giving us a closer look at the Sunken Kingdom as he 'assigned' take a closer look! :D A Blade of Black Steel is great book with a roller-coaster ride of events taking place and set things up for future books brilliantly as well as expanding the character at the same time! :D Brilliant and highly recommended! :D

  15. 4 out of 5

    Carl Phillips

    The characters are growing on me but there are serious pacing issues and plot progression issues here. Basically fu*k all happened in the middle third. And the pace only picked up in the last 15% of the book, and then what did happen totally overturned everything else that had happened. If anyone knows what on earth is happening with the plot then please tell me.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Joy Cronje

    This book! It was unpredictable! I love the unique vocabularies of the characters, the characters themselves (of course), and the truly unique flavour of the world building and various cultures. Must. Read. More!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    Largely a continuation of the first volume in substance and quality. There's more magic and monsters, and things have gotten a LOT more queer and sexy, but for the most part things are chugging along as they were. Which is to say, a huge cast of great characters being emotionally vulnerable and caring and fun in the face of some vast and frightening and demanding circumstances. And despite a plot that sometimes feels relatively static, there are a lot of meaningful and surprising twists here, to Largely a continuation of the first volume in substance and quality. There's more magic and monsters, and things have gotten a LOT more queer and sexy, but for the most part things are chugging along as they were. Which is to say, a huge cast of great characters being emotionally vulnerable and caring and fun in the face of some vast and frightening and demanding circumstances. And despite a plot that sometimes feels relatively static, there are a lot of meaningful and surprising twists here, too. A few quibbles. The cast is so big that a lot of characters are getting pushed out of the picture too far for the roles expected of them. Din and Hassan's deaths don't feel meaningful because I barely have a concept of what they were like, but also because Diggelby is kind of thin himself. The Villains and their successors are all great, but the loss of Sister Portoles makes the whole thing feel more homogeneous. Hjortt is still around, technically, and Best has another new outsider viewpoint, but they're both kind of marginalized/bit parts and I wanted more. I'm not sure which of the other characters I'd cut in particular--I love Purna but I think she brings the least to the table as a POV? And while it redeems itself in spades by the end, the Purna-Diggelby-Keun Ju-Sullen side trip meanders a decent amount in the first half (illustrating just how consistently entertaining every change of perspective has been otherwise). The tap opens up a little more on the brutal creatures and imaginative magic, too. There's a truly epic (or epicly lovable) demon confrontation in the middle, though despite the heavy horror influence (it seems like an overt reference to Ito's Thing That Drifted Ashore) it still feels like it's pulling some punches? The jokiness sometimes keeps it from sinking into moments of appropriately awed terror. The floating dam zombies seemed like a cooler idea at first (when dams seemed more central to their whole deal) but ended up fizzling out into a pretty forgettable monster. On the other hand, that segment segues into one of the most fun sequences in the series thus far. It weaves a whole bunch of big character moments into an extended and messy fight that finally shows off what the ever-charismatic Hoartrap the Touch can do if really pressed. Hopefully the next volume will bring more of Nemi; her shrouded birds and their weird egg magic add a welcome new flavor. The one thing that didn't work all that well for me in this sequence was Purna's reveal; neither her relationship with Digs and the nobles nor the class dynamics of this universe were established well enough beforehand for this to feel like a big deal (and maybe we aren't meant to, given Digs' reaction). Digs' own revelation is a lot more interesting, given what we know of its implications, though.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Zitroneneis

    I love this so much that I'm almost sad to only have one book left. I've become really invested in the world and characters and really don't want to let them go! :( - There's even more visible queer representation than before (two guys I previously assumed to be straight fall in love with each other and there are now at least two trans characters) and it's handled so well and casually that I'm almost asking myself why this is an issue for other books at all. - I LOVE the characters - so much I ca I love this so much that I'm almost sad to only have one book left. I've become really invested in the world and characters and really don't want to let them go! :( - There's even more visible queer representation than before (two guys I previously assumed to be straight fall in love with each other and there are now at least two trans characters) and it's handled so well and casually that I'm almost asking myself why this is an issue for other books at all. - I LOVE the characters - so much I can't even pick a favourite. I won't lie: Zosia is still the badass, complicated, morally gray female main character of my dreams, but the others aren't any less amazing. I like that Purna is an PoV character now, and I've warmed up a lot to Keun-ju. And while not exactly sympathetic, Hoartrap is awesome (creepy, crazy wizard that he is). I'm also looking forward to learn more about his ex-apprentice, Nemi. - Casual references to Heavy Metal music. <3 - More demons, more magic, things escalate, stakes rise and I have no idea how this mess will end. I expect it to be crazy and epic, though. I was a bit disappointed by Maroto's chapters. They were certainly entertaining, and I like both him and Bang a lot, but I felt these parts did little for the overall plot. Other than that I'm very pleased with the second book and look forward to the third (even if it is the last one).

  19. 4 out of 5

    Meran

    Having been introduced to all the characters (and the war situation) in the first book (WELL worth reading), we now get to experience what they're really like in action! And, we are treated to each backstory, some in greater detail, getting to know them in far too intimate ways, at times. The Drama builds-- the Chainites and their religion is exposed for what it is: Danger to All Those That Live. Grandfather becomes a Sword (very cool!); Sullen finds a purpose; Cobalt Zosia is redirected; her Five Having been introduced to all the characters (and the war situation) in the first book (WELL worth reading), we now get to experience what they're really like in action! And, we are treated to each backstory, some in greater detail, getting to know them in far too intimate ways, at times. The Drama builds-- the Chainites and their religion is exposed for what it is: Danger to All Those That Live. Grandfather becomes a Sword (very cool!); Sullen finds a purpose; Cobalt Zosia is redirected; her Five Villains go through their own epiphanies; the Biggest Devil Ever is summoned (a plus for every gamer ;) ); the depths of a New Gate are plumbed, much to everyone's distress; skirmishes are won; skirmishes are lost; Bugs are Drugs, of healing and of "recreation"; Choplicker surprises; Purna comes into Her Own; and Colonel Hortt, though brought low, recognizes the true enemy after all. And they all are forever changed. What a drama! Would make a great TV show, on the order of GoT, with less sex (though it certainly could be added). And this plot is original, not stole from other authors, both modern and ancient. There are surprises, twists and turns, allegiances changed as often as clothing. Yet there is Honor, and Loyalty; Friendship, and Love. Highly recommended.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Keeloca

    Actual score: 3,5. Starts off way too slow, and I found myself bored for most of the first half. Then it picked up the pace, I fell in love with the characters all over again, and had a grand old time of it. The ending felt fairly weak, however - not much of a set-up for the next installment. Still looking forward to reading it, but not dying to, if you know what I mean. SLIGHT SPOILERS BELOW! The characters remain the highlight, and I found myself whooping with delight when two of the FINALLY lock Actual score: 3,5. Starts off way too slow, and I found myself bored for most of the first half. Then it picked up the pace, I fell in love with the characters all over again, and had a grand old time of it. The ending felt fairly weak, however - not much of a set-up for the next installment. Still looking forward to reading it, but not dying to, if you know what I mean. SLIGHT SPOILERS BELOW! The characters remain the highlight, and I found myself whooping with delight when two of the FINALLY locked lips. Threesomes solve everything! :D The subsequent small revelation regarding one of them was treated with lack of fanfare it deserved (i.e. - it shouldn't be a big thing, and it was great to see it handled as Not A Big Thing). While my only real demand on any story is for it to entertain me, real life politics be damned, it is so bloody refreshing to have this type of abundant and casual representation. Also - NO sexual violence (well, except for a spanking, but there was careful negotiations and a safeword involved, so it doesn't really count). I also find it interesting that I have no idea how this one will end. I rather suspect that it'll be a fairly happy ending for most everyone, in spite of the supposedly grimdark trappings, but we'll see.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Pavlo Tverdokhlib

    A strong sequel to a great first book in the series. Zosia, Five Villains and a whole bunch of others return for more fast-paced, hilarious action as the world of the Star finds itself on teh brink of the Apocalypse. The plot is a hard thing to describe. Individual plotlines are pretty great, showing personal development and taking a number of characters on unexpected arcs. However, the overall plot moves very slowly, and only really picks up towards the very end, promising a lot more excitement A strong sequel to a great first book in the series. Zosia, Five Villains and a whole bunch of others return for more fast-paced, hilarious action as the world of the Star finds itself on teh brink of the Apocalypse. The plot is a hard thing to describe. Individual plotlines are pretty great, showing personal development and taking a number of characters on unexpected arcs. However, the overall plot moves very slowly, and only really picks up towards the very end, promising a lot more excitement in the next part of the series. The pacing is superb- actually much better than Book 1 that suffered from a slump early on in Part 2. Characters are generally hilarious anti-archetypes, and anyone with any power spends most of their time moaning about the pressures of command and about how much their life sucks in general. If it continued to take itself seriously, it'd be a pretty tedious read, I would imagine. But the obviously irrelevant, tongue-in-cheek tone makes it all flow. Overall, great book, where not a whole lot happens.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Chernz

    A sad step down from the excellence of the first book this was still an enjoyable read, it was just MUCH slower. I was excited that this picks up exactly where book 1 left off but gone is the crazy energy of its predecessor. Our cast basically sits in the same spot for 200+ pages talking to each other about future plans, potential double crosses, and relationships until I found myself skimming through a lot of the dialogue. Things eventually do happen but for every action there are chapters and A sad step down from the excellence of the first book this was still an enjoyable read, it was just MUCH slower. I was excited that this picks up exactly where book 1 left off but gone is the crazy energy of its predecessor. Our cast basically sits in the same spot for 200+ pages talking to each other about future plans, potential double crosses, and relationships until I found myself skimming through a lot of the dialogue. Things eventually do happen but for every action there are chapters and chapters of reaction - something that didn't happen in the first book. Whole chunks felt like absolute filler, including Maroto's sections, which was a damn shame because he was one of my favorite POV's out of everyone, but was designating to comedic relief while stalling out a plot line that is only allowed to get interesting right at the very end. The last 100 pages were a joy and picked up a lot of the crazy energy that I loved about "Crown" but the trudge to get things rolling was certainly noticeable and definitely felt.

  23. 5 out of 5

    jD

    This book frustrated me to no end. Yes, we get answers and outcomes related to the cliffhangers from A Crown for Cold Silver. My problem is simple, I don't know what the author wanted me to experience. It was all over the place. I do not feel the story moved forward by very much at all. Nearly 600 pages and I have a list of at least five threads that could have wrapped in the first 200 pages. The cliffhangers at the end of this one could have been done in 300 pages. So no, not happy. It's a good This book frustrated me to no end. Yes, we get answers and outcomes related to the cliffhangers from A Crown for Cold Silver. My problem is simple, I don't know what the author wanted me to experience. It was all over the place. I do not feel the story moved forward by very much at all. Nearly 600 pages and I have a list of at least five threads that could have wrapped in the first 200 pages. The cliffhangers at the end of this one could have been done in 300 pages. So no, not happy. It's a good thing that I love the characters and want to know what happens to them so yes, I'm going to read book three but not any time soon. I need to rebuild my trust in Alex Marshall because Cold Silver was one of the most creative fantasy concepts I have read. I just don't need 100 pages to get in and out of a swamp.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Aksel Dadswell

    Dark, violent, filthy and funny, this one delivered surprise after surprise. The characters I became so attached to in A Crown for Cold Silver moved in unexpected directions, and the level of diversity on display is wonderfully refreshing. The plot, too, was incredible both from a technical standpoint and for the sheer breathlessness with which it pulled me through to the end. The way Marshall (Bullington) handles action and dialogue and pacing on a scene-by-scene level is astounding, and the ma Dark, violent, filthy and funny, this one delivered surprise after surprise. The characters I became so attached to in A Crown for Cold Silver moved in unexpected directions, and the level of diversity on display is wonderfully refreshing. The plot, too, was incredible both from a technical standpoint and for the sheer breathlessness with which it pulled me through to the end. The way Marshall (Bullington) handles action and dialogue and pacing on a scene-by-scene level is astounding, and the maturity and control he displays in his writing impressed the hell out of me. I haven't read proper secondary-world fantasy for ages, but this series has pulled me right back into it, and stands as one of the best in the genre. I finished the last section of the book in a mad rush, and cannot fucking wait to jump right into the conclusion, and whatever wonderful, gruesome surprises it holds for me.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Will R

    I thought I knew the trajectory that the first book was headed in, but that all changed in the last third of A Crown for Cold Silver. The events of that book, so obviously a subversion of typical heroic fantasy, left me intrigued to see where Marshall was heading next. Unfortunately, after the large timeframe and geographical variety of the first book, this one felt disappointingly contained. I enjoyed the foregrounding of some of the previous secondary characters - I felt Purna was a particular I thought I knew the trajectory that the first book was headed in, but that all changed in the last third of A Crown for Cold Silver. The events of that book, so obviously a subversion of typical heroic fantasy, left me intrigued to see where Marshall was heading next. Unfortunately, after the large timeframe and geographical variety of the first book, this one felt disappointingly contained. I enjoyed the foregrounding of some of the previous secondary characters - I felt Purna was a particularly strong Point-of-View character - and Zosia is just as compelling as before, but the plot slowed and began to meander. The final third picked up, though, and I'm looking forward to finishing the series.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

    The second book in the Crimson Empire series does an amazing job of adding to the mythos created in the first. This book picks up right where the first one leaves off. After five hundred years, the Sunken Kingdom has returned and the Cobalt Company must decide if they will fight against the inhumans monsters that have risen with it or continue on the path to taking over the kingdom. All the things I loved about the first book are evident in this sequel: the dark humour and the characters with fl The second book in the Crimson Empire series does an amazing job of adding to the mythos created in the first. This book picks up right where the first one leaves off. After five hundred years, the Sunken Kingdom has returned and the Cobalt Company must decide if they will fight against the inhumans monsters that have risen with it or continue on the path to taking over the kingdom. All the things I loved about the first book are evident in this sequel: the dark humour and the characters with flaws, virtues, foul language and mistaken assumptions just make this a series that I am excited for the next book to come out.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Timothy

    More of the same, babe. While it doesn't quite capture the globetrotting glory of the first volume, Blade of Black Steel is smaller, more inward and even avoids the Martinesque problem of introducing too many new point-of-views in the second installment. Highlights include Zosia and Ji-hyeon's confrontation, Hoartrap's big blunder, the ending image and Maroto's whole plotline. Onward to Part Three!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Milan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Pretty interesting sequel that ended up setting things up pretty nicely for the third novel of the series. It's going to be interesting to see how the two queens get along, Zosia and Insorith, also I'm hoping to see J'hyeon get her revenge on the Immaculate Queen. Intriguing and complex world and very interesting characters make this a pretty entertaining read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jason Murray

    Meh. Not at all engaging. I didn't finish it... Too slow, and the author is too obsessed with sexuality, and attempting to shock readers with it. The fact that given character is gay/bi/straight and thinks about sex every 2.5 sentences adds nothing to the story except extra words. Ditto for the substance abuse - over the top, and adds nothing to the story.

  30. 4 out of 5

    The Nate Gatsby

    Good second book Dragged on in parts but overall a good book. Suffered from having too many points of view. I wasn't invested in a few of them so I would almost skim those chapters

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