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Publisher's Summary

The sequel to Alex Marshall's A Crown for Cold Silver, an outstanding, game-changing epic adventure featuring an unforgettable warrior.

After 500 years, the Sunken Kingdom has returned and brought with it a monstrous secret that threatens to destroy every country on the Star.

As an inhuman army gathers on its shores, poised to invade the Immaculate Isles, the members of the Cobalt Company face an ugly choice: abandon their dreams of glory and vengeance to combat a menace from another realm or pursue their ambitions and hope the Star is still there when the smoke clears.

Five villains. One legendary general. A battle for survival.

©2016 Alex Marshall (P)2016 Hachette Audio

What listeners say about A Blade of Black Steel

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Plot Twist At The End Almost Ruined Book

After listening to the first book of the Crimson Empire series and enjoying it, I moved on to A Blade of Black Steel. I mentioned in my review of A Crown for Cold Silver that the book had some strange characters and some themes that some may not be comfortable with, but that there were no overt scenes that should stop someone for listening. Much of the plot and themes seemed to be added by the author to differentiate his world or add some shock value for interest. This second book continues in that direction for most of the book and I was enjoying the series very much.

(Possible spoiler) Near the end of this book a plot twist happens that seems contrived, and it kind of spoiled the remaining portion of the book for me. Two main characters, who had at this point through one and three quarters books had been men who were heterosexual fighting for the love of one woman, suddenly decide to stop competing with each other and begin making out with each other instead. As if this is not enough, one of the character's mother enters the story, and it turns out that his mother is actually a man who identifies as a woman, and that his father is a woman who identifies as a man. The mother wonders if her son's sudden taste for another man is due to remembering a fondness for breast feeding from his father. It all comes off as ridiculous and some sort of contrived attempt by the author to add every kind of politically correct LGBTQ possibility he could come up with. It's like watching any current movie or tv series where every storyline has to have a mixed race couple, a gay best friend of the wife, and friends consisting of one muslim woman, one asian man, and a nerdy white guy. It just didn't mesh with the story.

Overall, I have now invested listening time for two books, and other than the nonsensical ending of book two, I have enjoyed the series. The narration from Angele Masters is perfect for this book. I will continue on and hope PC plot twists will remain at a minimum and not disrupt my listen to much.

4 people found this helpful

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well-paced, funny, and entertaining fantasy

Yes! For a fantasy reader in his 40s that rarely ever comes across gay/bi heroes in fiction, it's so exciting to read an author who creates a world with gender and sexual fluidity. It's fun to finally see yourself in characters. After awhile, no matter how great the story, it becomes tedious always reading about stereotypical hetero males. The characters are as funny and memorable as Abercrombie's books. At first I was surprised by the drug use in the book, since you don't see it often in fantasy literature, but it became charming, like magic potions or herbal remedies from AD&D games.

1 person found this helpful

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this is the new best author I've heard in years!

I have >600 books in my library. 75% fantasy 25% mystery/thriller. This is TOTALLY original.

1 person found this helpful

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Great sequel!

This was just as great as the first installment! I totally enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to the next.

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Good continuation of the storyline

Good continuation of the main story line and I love all the sassy, headstrong characters! Solid story progression too. I wouldn't say there are plot twists, but the directions these characters go are unexpected. And the quality of the storyline is gratefully prioritized over the need for a overused dun-dun-duuuuuunnnnnn, cliffhanger-based flow that fantasies may be biased towards following these days.

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Ever seen a possum-summoned muther of all devils?

I can’t believe I got the whole trilogy in an Audible stacked sale. Having heard the whole series, I pronounce each book full credit worthy! It’s got shades of all the pulpy movies I love and the funny/dark fantasy that scratches my twisted humor. This segment is the twisted love-child of grimdark & The Princess Bride.

This middle book is a bit of a meandering tale and our favorite characters are split up for most of it. But, now that the stage is set for a creepy, insectoid invasion, this is our opportunity to really get to know our MCs and supporting cast. There’s more humor and building menace in this book, which is mostly good if a little overlong. There are still 5 POVs: (1) Zosia’s revenge quest has been utterly sabotaged by circumstance, making her ornery and a perfect pairing for Boris the heretic (2) Jin-Hyeon should have been careful what she wished for and is finding being Queen of the Hill a challenge, (3) Sister Portalace is replaced with Sullen’s mother Best, a misguided, bloodthirsty muther of a mother, (4) Sullen, Diggleby, and Purna have a Princess Bride turned horror adventure with ghost swamps instead of fire swamps and zombie beavers instead of R.O.U.S.s - dark and silly? Inconceivable!, and (5) my favorite lummox Maroto has a lost-world adventure full of double entendres and sexy pirate hazing with Banh. The crazy glue connecting everything is Hortrapp; I loved that, until the very end of the trilogy, I had no clue if he was good, bad, or just batsh!t bonkers... and with the addition of Nemi, his equally bonkers nemesis, Hortrapp was the ultimate scene stealer. Bravo!

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Some of the best grimdark out there.

I read this book because I ran out of Abercrombie's First Law World to read, and it did not disappoint. If you like Abercrombie's style but want to see it done with a few twists, read this series. if you don't know who Abercrombie is, read First Law Trilogy and then read this series.
Alex Marshall is a master of dramatic irony, ultraviolence, and the complexities of human behavior. This series has some of the best characters and relationships in epic fantasy, even if most of them are totally irredeemable scumbag, drug addicts, and murderers.
Chock full of washed up old villains trying to do wrong right, a system of creepy ass devil magic, an ecosystem of insects and arachnids that get you high if they don't kill you, and a grim cynical political economy that demonstrates how religious institutions sometimes get wrong even what they get right, this series is a bittersweet, fun, trope-defying heartbreak from start to finish.

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Just as good as the first, can't wait for the next

the story great and the connection the characters make with one another is so captivating.

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Tran-tasy action comedy!

Gender bending madness just adds another level of bizarre to a fantastic sword and sorcery production. It's also hilarious.

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Best book this year

I am amazed that this series has not had more acclaim. it is one of the best gritty fantasy books I have read. Plus it is absolutely hilarious, I'm a very dark way. I f you like Joe Abercrombie you will LOVE this series

3 people found this helpful