Synopsis: Is the Living Blade real or just a legend?
With it… Prince Bashan could win back his kingdom.
Master Telen Diaz can free himself of the burden from his past.
Owen Smith sees a once-in-a-lifetime chance to gain untold knowledge.
… but for Noraya Smith, the Living Blade will bring nothing but suffering and sorrow.
“The cracking sound and the grind under her heel as his nose broke filled her with grim satisfaction.”
LOOK AT THAT COVER, YOU GUYS! It’s jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Done by the incredibly talented Tommy Arnold, go figure! I was just writing about him in my previous post. I truly believe that he is one of the greatest cover artists currently working today. Goddamn beautiful work!
What’s inside is also pretty fucking great! Timandra Whitecastle is a self-published writer & this is the first installment in The Living Blade grimdark series.
Noraya (Nora) is our protagonist &.. fucking hell. You know I love a fiery, strong female character & Nora is most definitely that! The shit she faces within these pages is immense, to say the least. You can’t help but root for her. She reminded me of an Arya Stark-type character & I AM ALL ABOUT THAT!
Touch of Iron includes an eclectic mix of supporting characters. The main story focus is regarding a quest to locate a magical sword, The Living Blade. Those who are along for the journey are Nora’s twin brother, Owen; Prince Bashan (or as Nora calls him “The Fish Lord”); & Telen Diaz. Next to Nora, Diaz is my favorite! He’s a complex half-wight with a heart-wrenching background who brings so much to this story. If you want a super memorable fantasy character, he’s your guy!
“You know…” Nora took a deep breath. “For a master warrior craftsman, you talk a lot of philosophical bullshit.”
In some ways, Touch of Iron felt quite similar to Abercrombie’s Shattered Sea trilogy. Along with the stabby-stabby that tends to feature prominently in the grimdark subgenre, it had elements of romance, as well. Hell, I couldn’t help but ship two characters. It’s like that meme with the stick figure holding the two heads & trying to mash them together ::NOW KISS!::
This was at times shocking, gut-punchy, brutal & beautiful. It was one of those books that I found myself liking more as it went on. Part three in particular was a fucking rollercoaster of emotions!
Overall, this would be a great place to begin your grimdark journey if you are unsure about how much grim you can handle! Timandra Whitecastle is a writer you should keep your eyes peeled for. I think her quality of writing is just going to keep getting better & better!
(Thank you to Timandra Whitecastle for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review!)