Storm and Steel: The Book of the Black Earth, Part Two
Pyr, Jun 2 2015, $18.00
In Erugash Horace the ship’s carpenter and mage smashed the Temple of the Sun and liberated Queen Byleth (see Blood and Iron) from their power; but also alienated nobles wanting to eliminate his influence with the monarch anyway possible. However, Horace failed to eliminate the Sun Cult priests; who fled across the border into Akeshia. There they obtain allies in an invasion of Erugash.
Ignoring the threats that remain to her rule from outside the kingdom and from within her palace, Queen Byleth orders her royal mage to viciously destroy a slave rebellion led by Horace’s best friend Jirom and the latter’s lover. Horace pleads with his liege to seek a peaceful solution at a time when he struggles with his sorcery and with a rash of magical mysterious murders from an unknown source.
The second Book of the Black Earth is an electrifying fantasy due to the ineptness of the lead character who recognizes his failures from a lack of magical control, lack of finesse within the royal court and lack of understanding of his love for Alyra. Horace wants to sail away from his responsibilities to this foreign culture and its enigmatic queen that he cannot comprehend; eliminate his unwanted magic that he cannot comprehend; and run away from love that he cannot comprehend. In the immortal words of the late comedian Joe E. Lewis: “Show me a friend in need and I'll show you a pest.”