A Trial of Blood & Steel
424 pp • ISBN: 978-1-59102-787-4
Spurning her royal heritage to be raised by the great warrior, Kessligh, her exquisite swordplay astonishes all who witness it. But Sasha is still young, untested in battle and often led by her rash temper. In the complex world of Lenayin loyalties, her defiant wilfulness is attracting the wrong kind of attention.
Lenayin is a land almost divided by its two faiths: the Verenthane of the ruling classes and the pagan Goeren-yai, amongst whom Sasha now lives. The Goeren-yai worship swordplay and honour and begin to see Sasha as the great spirit—the Synnich—who will unite them. But Sasha is still searching for what she believes and must choose her side carefully.
When the Udalyn people—the symbol of Goeren-yai pride and courage—are attacked, Sasha will face her moment of testing. How will she act? Is she ready to lead? Can she be the saviour they need her to be?
"[H]ighly readable. It is an original and fresh heroic fantasy, showcasing a well drawn, well realized world filled with fascinating, three dimensional characters who pulled me in for the ride and carried me away. I got totally sucked into this book, completely against all expectations, which, when you think about it, makes it all the better... Joel Shepherd's first foray into fantasy has paid dividends with this book—it is the first such fantasy I have read in a long time where I finished the last page, put it down and thought, 'I wonder when the next one will come out.' I hope Shepherd revisits Sasha's world soon—there's a lot of story to explore!"