Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Haven Haven:
A Trial Of Blood And Steel
Book IV
by Joel Shepherd

Supplied for review by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed By: Jan Butterworth

The Lenayin army is defeated from their last battle, though the feudal army of the Regent Balthaar Arosh won the war. The Lenayin king is dead and most of the army is humiliated. They realise they are marching with an army displaying no honour and committing atrocities against both serrin and human. Sasha leads her brother Damon and three quarters of the army of Lenayin to defect and fight for Saalshen. This leaves her brothers, Koenyg and Myklas, with the nobility and the Verenthane fanatics to fight for the Regent.

The final battle that will determine the fate of the Bacosh is in Jahnd. A city of human refugees in Saalshen, its serrin hosts have allowed it to build into a major power over the centuries. The mountainous land of Ilduur, Saalshen Bacosh's third province, refuses to come to the aid of its neighbours. Most of Ilduur is against joining the war as the mountains protect them from the battles to the north. For Sasha and her allies to defeat the enemy they need the Ilduurian Steel to fight with them. Sasha leads a delegation south to plead with the Ilduur to send troops.

Sasha has to become a true Lenay warlord to save Saalshen. She must be feared and hated by her enemies, uncompromising and all conquering. Her own people are now insisting that she, and not her brother Damon, should assume the Lenay throne. ‘Haven‘ is the final in the ‘A Trial of Blood and Steel’ political military fantasy. It is a fitting climax to this fantastic series. The story line is fast-paced and full of action. The armies of both sides meet for an epic battle that will determine the future of the Bacosh.

The only parts I didn’t like are the horses getting hurt in battle. The humans chose to fight, the poor horses did not. Apart from that, this is an exciting book to read. It could be read as a stand-alone, as it covers the series plot well. It is a satisfying to ending to the Saalshen Bacosh war, while leaving loose threads for future stories.

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