Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Tracato Bk3 Tracato:
A Trial Of Blood And Steel
Book III
by Joel Shepherd

Supplied for review by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed By: Jan Butterworth

Rhodia has a divided population of feudalist’s, non-feudalist’s (Civid Sein), and the non-human serrin. Tensions finally overflow and Rhodia moves toward a full-scale war. The northern Verenthane countries and the war-like goeren-yai, are marching south to join the Torovan armies and reclaim the Saalshen Bacosh. The serrin have occupied them for two hundred years and made them prosperous. The fanatical religious Verenthanes have wanted to reclaim them for years and some humans there want to return to feudal times.

In Tracato there is a politically and religiously complex situation. Sasha’s Lenay countrymen are marching to wage war on the serrin. Her lover is a serrin; her uman is on the opposing side. Sasha’s opposing loyalties and identity crisis build to an agonizing climax. Sofy is marching with the Lenay army to marry a prince of Larosa in the sub-plot to Sasha’s life and battle for survival in Rhodia. With her are Jaryd, the former noble and now goeren-yai soldier, and Yasmyn, her fierce handmaiden.

Unlike the first two books in the Trial of Blood and Steel, Tracato completely skipped the introductions and jumped straight into action, the Tracato civil war. Then it jumped to the series-wide conflict, the Toravan/Lenayin invasion of Enora. Joel Shepherd has built a highly complex political and religious world. In Tracato, the history of the various countries and religions is known, the characters are in place, and everything is inexorably converging. There is maximum tension and intensity and this is possibly the most exciting book in the series. Most of the back story is mentioned so this book is suitable to read alone. I would urge people to start with Sasha though, as this is a fantastic series and deserves to be read in its entirety.

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