Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Petrodor Bk2 Petrodor:
A Trial Of Blood And Steel
Book II
by Joel Shepherd

Supplied for review by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed By: Jan Butterworth

Sasha now lives in the Torrovan port city of Petrodor. This is a city with several political factions squaring off against each other. These are the powerful and rich merchant families, the nobility, the clergy, and the "talmaad" - serrin agents living in Petrodor. The common folk are torn between the predominant Verenthane religion and the serrin-influenced Nasi-Keth.

Sasha's sister Alythia is married off to the noble Halmady family. This political allience marriage beings a power struggle among the other noble houses. This includes Steiner House, which Sasha and Alythia's sister Marya was married into. The politically minded archbishop sets in motion bloody events that turn allies into enemies. Sasha and Alythia, along with their allies, struggle to survive.

The sub-plot follows Jaryd, hell-bent on revenge for the murder of his little brother. He is now training with the Goeren-yay in Sasha's old village after abandoning his Verenthane faith at the end of Sasha. Sofy hears of a plot to murder his surviving brother and warns him. With some village men, they charge off to rescue him.

The characters and factions also avoid being black-and-white stereotypes - not all Verenthanes are evil, not all nasi-keth are honorable, and the serrin aren't quite as unified and angelic as they seemed at the end of Sasha. Everyone tries to look out for their own interests as best as they can. The political set-up is once again very complex, with factions within factions depending on or plotting against each other.

Petrodor is an exciting fantasy with a complex world. It is an interesting focus on power, politics, and religion, with memorable characters. There’s a bit of romance at the end but is minor. The story is action-packed and exciting. The second Trial of Blood and Steel is an excellent read. You should read Sasha first, it will be confusing otherwise as you won’t know the cause of the seemingly coming war or the many characters.

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