Sasha (A Trial of Blood & Steel, #1)
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Sasha (A Trial of Blood & Steel #1)

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  781 ratings  ·  82 reviews
Sasha turns her back on her regal heritage, forsakes the life she could have as the princess in a rich kingdom, and trains instead to be a powerful warrior, fighting for the good of the people her father commands. Sasha is a princess, the like of which the highland country of Lenayin has never seen before. Spurning her royal heritage to be raised by the great warrior, Kess...more
Paperback, 614 pages
Published January 1st 2007 by ORBIT
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Mike (the Paladin)
My rating for this book changed a couple of time as I was reading it...why? Allow me to elaborate. After all, the author loves elaborating :) .

This is a medieval type fantasy with no magic to speak of in sight (not a problem for me by the way...just letting you know if it's important to you). The book takes place (basically) in Lenayin...or among its provinces. Lenayin has 13 provinces, it also has either 3 religions or, more accurately 2 religions and a philosophy. The map of course shows 13 na...more
Tamora Pierce
It's intricate and hard to get into at first, as the author throws a lot of world building and complex societies, peoples, and religions at you, but I kept reading and was rewarded with an outsider princess who took up a warrior's training to bring her closer to a beloved brother. When he was killed, she stayed with it for his sake and for her own, not realizing that by becoming the favored student of her father's former top general and counselor, she has placed herself in the spot of a prophesi...more
Sasha is the first volume in A TRIAL OF BLOOD AND STEEL, a projected 4-book fantasy series by Australian author Joel Shepherd, who previously also published a science fiction trilogy called the CASSANDRA KRESNOV series. His novels have been available in Australia for several years, and are now being released in the US thanks to Pyr, with Petrodor, the next volume in A TRIAL OF BLOOD AND STEEL, due out in March 2010. Based on the strength of Sasha, I expect Joel Shepherd to become a well-known na...more
Sherwood Smith
Dec 21, 2009 Sherwood Smith added it
Shelves: fantasy
I nearly put this book down. First, nearly all the names and made-up terms had Y as the main (or only) vowel, which made them all look exactly the same to me. (In fact, I wish that y as a common vowel as well as indiscriminate sprinklings of apostrophes would go out of fashion in fantasy and SF real soon). Then there were the long, long LONG Maid and Butler dialogues about religions, where everyone told each other at length what they didn't believe in, so why should the reader slog through this...more
I think I would have enjoyed the book better if Sasha was not the only woman with skill and intelligence for most of the book. She is the sterotypical only woman who can do anything right. Still good world building. Strangely, the best character is Sofy.
Joel Shepherd's “Sasha” (Pyr, $16, 514 pages) is simply a tremendously satisfying fantasy that is a winner on pretty much all counts.

The Australian author has started a new tetraology with “Sasha” called A Trial of Blood and Steel, and it’s set on the typical pre-industrial world, but with limited magic. Since there are three other books to come, and Shepherd’s intricate plots depend as much on political and economic issues as on interpersonal relationships, it takes him a while to set the scene...more
Jun 08, 2011 April added it
I've put this one aside for now. I don't think I'm in the right frame of mind for this one. It feels as if I missed out on a previous book as I don't know enough - there are too many cultures, religions etc. to understand the political upheaval going on in the story and I have no idea who is what and where. I may come back at some later date when my brain feels up to the challenge.

Probably not coming back to this one. Zero interest in the story so far. DNF
♥ Ashleigh ♥  contrary to popular belief im not actually mad!
Mar 23, 2014 ♥ Ashleigh ♥ contrary to popular belief im not actually mad! rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who enjoy more medieval type books in the epic fantasy genre
Recommended to ♥ Ashleigh ♥ by: sarah

Im rating this book 3.5 Stars. The reason behind this is because for most of the book i thought it was only okay - good. but the last 20% was pretty awesome, i was tempted to go with 4 stars, but i just dont think only 20% no matter how good deserves a whole extra star. So there we have it. 3.5.

now onto the actual good bit ^_^

What i liked:
The world was incredibly well done, and i dont have much problems picturing it in my mind, especially Udalyn, which sounded incredibly and somewhere i'd love t...more
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I started it based on a recommendation but did not realize at first the author was male. Call it what you will, I'm typically rather annoyed with men who think they can write strong female characters without being patronizing or bigoted. This time, however, I didn't feel that way. I found myself relating rather strongly to the character's personality and becoming absorbed in the story. Mayhaps that's an inditement of the recommender... *twitch*

Jan 28, 2013 Mallori rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Mallori by: io9
I picked up this book after it was recommended as "the one I'm steering my own daughter to first when she's ready for adult SF&F..The books are written with an understanding of what someone can and cannot realistically do when they weigh half as much as their opponent. This, it turns out, is a surprising amount! I find the realistically empowered female lead so much more refreshing than the sort of Buffy-style waif who can fight only because they have some inherited magical ability that sets...more
Leah Morris
I gave up on this book. Too predictable. All the characters seemed to have been included by following a checklist:

Princess turned bad-assed fighter who is estranged from her family? Yep.
Mentor who is a well-respected war hero? Yep.
Older brother who is a pain in the butt? Yep.
Potential love-interest who is seems like a foppish aristocrat? Yep.

When Sasha had her first real temper tantrum I chucked it in.

Kassandra Kresnov had more personality and depth. And her story was more compelling. And she wa...more
Sadly I could not get into this one on several tries so I decided to fast browse it and the prose made me cringe to the end - I either did not get it and the novel is humorous in its pomposity and repeated use of "big words", or it wants to be serious and then it just does not work; naming conventions also grate badly. I hope it will find its audience, but I am not it, or at least not right now...
Laer Carroll
Shepherd brings to this fantasy series the same thoughtful detailed world-building he did to his Kassandra Kresnov SF trilogy. The details and explanations are worked into the action so discreetly that you hardly notice it. The story moves right along, and you are immersed in this other world.
Lisa Richards
While I read this book years ago, It was so good, I have to write something about the book Sasha.

The way Joel Shepherd writes in this series, captures you and keeps you reading, you don't want to put the book down. and amazingly my husband and myself both loved this book (something that doesn't often happen, due to liking different genres), and the 'A trial of blood and steel' series. Sasha is a strong female character that you want to travel on the journey with her as she discovers what she bel...more
I really wanted to give this book 4 stars but just couldn't. It was well written with good, complex characters that were well fleshed. The characters interacted reasonably well with each other. The story was well plotted. The hero was a strong female character. The world itself was also rich with detail.
That was my first problem with the book. I like details, but not so many that I feel like I'm reading a history textbook. This book was overrun with details, and not just historic ones. At one p...more
This book started out a five, went to a three, and finished at a four. Barely.

I really liked the main character; she was headstrong and stubborn and had her faults but the author showed by the actions of those around her that she deserved the starring role in the novel even when she was full of self-doubt. There was evidence of change and real character development as well.

For once, you didn't get the boring backstory that in a movie becomes a training montage. But in a sense this is also the bo...more
Phil Norfleet
The promise of "an adult Arya Stark" is what caused me to pick this up, and, for the most part, I rather liked this book. It's biggest weakness is, IMHO, characters: too many of the background characters are interchangeable and without adequate defining characteristics to tell apart. While the author's decision to utilize an interesting naming mechanic - quite a large number of the characters have a Y in their name, so much so that it almost seems that the Y is their equivalent of an E - was def...more
Sarah Snyder
Sasha is a bit of an oddity, it is hard to place it in a specific genre. It is almost a young adult coming of age story, but not quite. it has the feel, setting and sound of a fantasy story, but there are no elements of magic and no fantastic creatures in sight.

Sasha is the apprentice of great swordsman Kessligh, daughter of the King and a woman of her own making. She simply does not care what others thing, she follows her own heart and mind and thinks little of the consequences her actions brin...more
This book was nearly, ever so nearly, there. However, it failed that extra hurdle and remains a stately Three and a Half Stars.

Before going into this, one should note that there is a distinct lack of magic or anything that seems remotely similar in this book. So if that's all you want from a fantasy, I'm sorry but this won't be your book. However, in my humble opinion, this book succeeds without Magic and shows potential for the series. No, it isn't a leading light in the genre, but it shouldn't...more
Tiyrna Nightschild
I loved it. The world was imaginative and awesome, and the clans and families realistic, characters believable and strong. I like how the characters grow and develop their world views throughout the course of this book, not only Sasha, but (semi SPOILER) Damon and Sofy and Jaryd and Daryd as well.


Sasha wasn't my favorite character, but surprisingly reading the book through her as the main character did not bother me very much, for although she was childish and infuriatingly blind...more
Anabella Gomez
This is amazing. You know a book is incredible when you have so many things to do and you just CAN'T stop reading! i mean, I had a physics test, math quiz, physics lab, english project, and I knew I had to do it. i was like "Okay, one chapter and I swear I have to at least do half the lab to read another." LIES! I read the whole book. Im weak! That is how good this book is.

You're maybe wondering if she's just a superficial badass girl that complains throughout the book. She is very realistic and...more
This was a very nice break for me as it has been quite awhile since I delved into a this genre. I have stirred clear of the Kings and Midevil times in order to let the dust settle on these type of books, but with a great price on Kindle and an interesting premise, I took the leap and was rewarded for my gamble.

The story does begin in a confusing manner as you are introduced to a plethora of characters while the reader is also being introduced into the story's world. It did indeed take me a few r...more
Coucher de soleil
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Esther Jones
Sasha made me grin like an idiot, laugh, and cry. However, there were also parts that made me yawn in boredom, or rage at the grammar. Mostly, though, it was a very enjoyable read.

The main character, Sashandra Lenayin, is the daughter of the Varenthane king, but she has renounced that life, and is living in a small town with the "uncivilized" Goeren-yai, practicing swordwork. She doesn't know it, but she is destined to become a hero, a saviour, of both peoples. Yes, it is that cliched. But I did...more
This is one of the longest books I've ever read, or at the very least it took the longest. That said, I loved every moment. It felt so fresh and unique and every character showed development and depth, I couldn't get enough. I categorize this as a fantasy novel simply from the fact it's medieval fiction. There's no magic and only one non-human race in the Serrin, a somewhat elven or vulcan-like race that appear human despite them making it very clear they aren't. Sasha is possibly one of the bes...more
L.G. Estrella
Rating this book can be a little difficult since I felt quite differently about it one the two occasions that I read it. I will begin by talking about what remains consistent. The writing is generally of a high quality. The prose is smooth and the vocabulary is good. Shepherd writes with confidence and knows how to pace scene. He is particularly adept with action scenes. The heroine of the story is also quite likeable in so far as she is realistic (mostly) and has worked hard to achieve her skil...more
While there were a fair number of info-dumps, the complexity of the book - and the fact that they didn't detract overmuch - stands to do them well. Sashandra (Sasha) Lenayin is the protagonist and former princess of Lenay, who left her family to spend time with a brother she loved - a brother who died and she "took over" from, as far as swordwork goes. The family relations are complex and pit Sasha against her kin, even as she has to pit her ideals and her dreams against those of friends - and e...more
For those like me who cannot get enough fantasy read this book! What I really loved about this book is the complexity of the politics and history that Shepherd has created. People are saying that they couldn't get into and that they feel as though they are missing a book that should be at the start - you obviously are not a true fantasy lover. I have read extensively and this book is incredibly easy to follow and once I started I had a lot of trouble putting it down to go to sleep!
I do feel tha...more
This has great characters and really interesting politics. Sasha feel quite unique in her role and personality and I got very involved with her.

I did have a great deal of difficulty, however, in following the religious and local politics in the book. Shepherd does a lot of showing rather than telling and I had to work extremely hard to figure out who was who and what the different religions vs different regions were - I nearly gave up several times but kept being dragged back in by the characte...more
I really liked Joel Shepherd's Kassandra Kresnov series, so I was very curious what he'd do with a "classic" fantasy setting. While interesting and nice, especially towards the end, this novel suffers from slow pace and little action. It introduces a lot of background information and as such sets the stage for the series to come but for large parts of the story there is little development, either in the plot or in characters. As mentioned, this changes towards the end of the novel and we get a g...more
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The Sword and Laser: Free Kindle Book 11 226 May 23, 2012 08:53AM  
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Joel Shepherd is an Australian science fiction author. He moved to Perth, Western Australia with his family when he was seven, where he later studied film and television arts at Curtin University. He now lives in Adelaide.
More about Joel Shepherd...
Crossover (Cassandra Kresnov, #1) Breakaway (Cassandra Kresnov, #2) Killswitch (Cassandra Kresnov, #3) Petrodor (A Trial of Blood & Steel, #2) Tracato (A Trial of Blood & Steel, #3)

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“Sasha,' Kessligh said around his mouthful, 'if you'd seen as many people killed as I have, all because one of them believes this thing and the other believes this other thing, you wouldn't think it was all so harmless. Tales and legends are fun, but beliefs, Sasha. Beliefs are dangerous. Be careful what you believe in, for beliefs are far more dangerous then swords.” 5 likes
“She paused before the fallen rider. He stared up at her from within a grimacing, battle stained face. Hatred and fear battled for supremacy in his eyes. Sasha met his gaze directly with a stare of utter contempt.
'Where are your gods now?' she said.”
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