Book Reviews

Review: Steel Crow Saga by Paul Krueger

Steel Crow Saga is one of those books where at first I wasn’t sure, but then by the end I was hooked. There are so many moving parts and relationships that it needs a steady foundation. But once you push past that point, you can fall in love. Lee! Xiulan! Tala! Even Jimuro! By the end I found myself utterly besotted. Keep reading to hear me talk even more about these precious characters in Steel Crow Saga.

Summary

Four destinies collide in a unique fantasy world of war and wonders, where empire is won with enchanted steel and magical animal companions fight alongside their masters in battle.

A soldier with a curse
Tala lost her family to the empress’s army and has spent her life avenging them in battle. But the empress’s crimes don’t haunt her half as much as the crimes Tala has committed against the laws of magic… and her own flesh and blood.

A prince with a debt
Jimuro has inherited the ashes of an empire. Now that the revolution has brought down his kingdom, he must depend on Tala to bring him home safe. But it was his army who murdered her family. Now Tala will be his redemption—or his downfall.

A detective with a grudge
Xiulan is an eccentric, pipe-smoking detective who can solve any mystery—but the biggest mystery of all is her true identity. She’s a princess in disguise, and she plans to secure her throne by presenting her father with the ultimate prize: the world’s most wanted prince.

A thief with a broken heart
Lee is a small-time criminal who lives by only one law: Leave them before they leave you. But when Princess Xiulan asks her to be her partner in crime—and offers her a magical animal companion as a reward—she can’t say no, and soon finds she doesn’t want to leave the princess behind.

This band of rogues and royals should all be enemies, but they unite for a common purpose: to defeat an unstoppable killer who defies the laws of magic. In this battle, they will forge unexpected bonds of friendship and love that will change their lives—and begin to change the world.

Review

Throughout Steel Crow Saga I had my favorites – shout out to Lee and Xiulan my chaotic queer heroines – and I was basically only reading for them. But then all of a sudden, it just all sort of shifted and all these other characters came into focus for me. And that’s the only way I can explain Steel Crow Saga. The world building was incredibly detailed and complex, so at the beginning get used to a bit of confusion, but once I got it down, it was so rich. It’s set in a world built on conflict and strife. On wars, atrocities, and resentment years in the making.

But that’s the whole point. All our characters are brought into this world of past wars and betrayals and current sacrifices and treason and what do we do? We’ve become so immersed in what has happened in the past, the horrors we’ve committed, what’s left now? I also loved how Asian Steel Crow Saga was. Not only is it #ownvoices, but it draws from other cultures and has this mix between fantasy and modern society. There are cars, but also shades which are drawn forth from soul bargains. Guns and also the ability to alter the temperature of metal. The world building is immense, but it’s also incredibly fascinating.

The Characters

Now we come to my favorite elements – the characters. Seriously, I did full 180 degrees on some of them. And they’re the heart of the book. The ways they are forced to make decisions based on past mistakes, histories of wrong doing, oppression and prejudice. But also the ways they have to make decisions based on these universal forces – love we cannot deny, family we cannot let go of, revenge for our feelings of loss. The multiple POV was probably one of the best decisions made, even if at the beginning I was a little lost. We are not only able to witness the events of the book playing out across miles, and the ripples of our decisions, but also the different character’s inner thoughts. This means we have clear favorites and POVs we feel like we have to trudge through, but it all ends up changing.

We can witness their journeys. The ways they struggle with a sense of responsibility, duty, our place in the grand scheme of the world. What it takes to be a good leader? If our causes are justification enough for our atrocities? They grapple with these huge themes and questions, and that’s why, for me, suddenly how I felt about the characters all changed. They become allowed to be as complex and messy as we are. Mistakes and all.

Overall,

Steel Crow Saga is a book I almost passed up entirely. I had it as a gift and I put it down! I wasn’t sure I could get to it in time and I wasn’t sure about the whole concept. So I am so thankful Shealea had her readathon which forced me to pick it up because I adored it! Talk about a book where I just had this epiphany of love. Find Steel Crow Saga on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound & The Book Depository.

Discussion

What is a book you almost missed?


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