Friday, August 07, 2015

Cold Iron -- Stina Leicht

Most of you know that I don't ordinarily read long books.  So why did I read Cold Iron, which is 650 pages long and is only the first volume in an epic fantasy series?  Because I make exceptions.  In this case, I've known Stina Leicht for a while, and I enjoyed both her first two novels.  So I had a feeling that I'd like this one, too, and I did.

I've heard the book described as "flintlock fantasy," whatever that is.  I'm not as familiar with fantasy sub-genres as I used to be.  What we have is two kingdoms at war.  One of them, Eledore, is peopled by the kainen race, who seem to me to be humans with magical powers.  Maybe they're elves.  The Acrasian kingdom is populated by humans. They don't have magic, but they have the aforementioned flintlocks, which the Eledoreans look down upon.  They prefer magic.  This might be a mistake.

The principal characters are Nels, Suvi, and Itla.  Nels and Suvi are Eledorean royalty, twins born to the queen, whose husband . . . I'll leave that for you to find out.  Nels seems at times to have no magic at all, which causes him a great many problems.  He becomes a soldier, which is a very low position, indeed, for Eledorean royalty.  His sister, who does have magic, is destined to become the ruler.  That's a good thing, since she's much more suited to the position than Nels.  Itla is a healer, and she's Nels' love interest.  All these characters are flawed in some way, and because they're stubborn or because others are stubborn, things don't go well for them or for the kingdom.  

All the trappings of epic fantasy are in play: There are battles on land and sea, explosions, hand-to-hand combat, traitorous villains, alliances with others, threats from fearsome creatures.  But the way Leicht handles things is very different from what you might expect.  The roles of women are quite interesting, as are the ways sex is handled in the societies.  The world-building is intriguing, and the story moves right along.  If you like epic fantasy, with or without flintlocks, this is one you need to check out soon.  Bring on the sequel.

1 comment:

Mel Odom said...

Yep, I picked this one up too. Getting to it soon.