"Sasha is addicting. The pace is perfect. Very little time is spent with a true introduction—we learn the world and its characters through story of the book rather than an extended prologue. As I was reading Sasha I would loose time, I would read another chapter because I just had to, and I lost the very precious commodity of sleep—I'm not sure there is a greater compliment I can give a book... If Sasha is any indication, A Trial of Blood & Steel will become a force to be reckoned within the fantasy world and I highly recommend it. 8/10."
"Sasha is an excellent opening to A Trial of Blood & Steel. The interweaving of war, politics, religion, geography, family and a non-human race are skillfully done. Anyone who likes his or her fantasy to be as intellectually complex as it is entertaining would do well to pick up this book."
"Sasha reads like a pleasant melding of The Lord of the Rings, medieval-style warfare and intrigue mingled with the political and religious wranglings of Dune. In fact, Sasha makes a nice parallel to Dune's Paul Atreides. With a galloping plot and plenty of swordplay, honor, dishonor, treacheries, and victories, Sasha is a worthy addition to the heroic fantasy genre."
—Sacramento Book Review
"Sasha's torturous path to maturity, complete with painful missteps, is sensitively conveyed, and while I definitely cheered for her, I also found myself arguing with her — and in a way, that's a higher compliment to pay an author... The second book, Petrodor, will likely be on the shelves by the time you are reading this. Go pick it up — I know I will."
—Realms of Fantasy
"...those who savor the intricacies of rival religions, vividly choreographed fights, and lots of bloody battle will enjoy it.... this heroic fantasy should please fans of, say, George R. R. Martin's Song of Fire and Ice novels."
"It doesn't seem fair that I should review two books by the same authors in back-to-back months, but Joel Shepherd and James Enge have left me no choice: Sasha (Pyr, $16, 514 pages) and This Crooked Way (Pyr, $16, 400 pages) are just too good to ignore... Shepherd has started a new tetraology with Sasha called "A Trial of Blood and Steel," and it's set in the typical pre-industrial world, but with limited magic. With three other books to come, and Shepherd's intricate plots depending as much on political and economic issues as on interpersonal relationships, it takes him a while to set the scene. But once through the exposition, Sasha is just my kind of book: complex, action-packed, realistic and unpredictable... I enjoyed Sasha as much as any book I've read recently and was disappointed when I finished it. Volume two can't come soon enough."
—Contra Costa Times and San Jose Mercury News
"[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!"
—Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine
"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... Petrodor has me eager to read more. This is definitely a book you will want to pick up. Not the world's hardest read, but downright and thoroughly enjoyable."
—Fantasy Book Review