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Sasha (A Trial of Blood & Steel #1)

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  1,545 Ratings  ·  124 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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Michelle Connor Because of the later books I would go with more adult, one of my favourite book series this.

Community Reviews

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Mike (the Paladin)
Jun 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of epic fantasy, anyone who wants more ladies in fantasy
I listened to this book on audible as a kind of spur of the moment 'I want some good fantasy' read and this certainly ticked all the 'good fantasy' boxes I had in mind. I would class this as an epic or classic fantasy crossover, becuase it's a longish read and it has some slower more political moments, but this one is DEFINITELY way better with lady characters than a lot of the more 'traditional' classic/epic fantasies I have read. What I love about this story is that although we do get a fair f ...more
Tamora Pierce
Jan 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult, fantasy
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
Jun 01, 2013 rated it liked it
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.
Oct 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
Laz the Sailor
Oct 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, recs-picks
This book was recommended to me after I read The Warrior's Path. There are some similarities in the setting, and the recommendation was valid.

This book involves lots of sword fighting and palace intrigue. There is no magic, and only a little mysticism. There are religious aspects to the various nations and their conflicts. Our heroine is raised to be an outstanding swordswoman who employs a style that takes advantage of her speed and grace while compensating for her smaller stature. Despite bein
Clay Kallam
May 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf-fantasy
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
Dec 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
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*

Sherwood Smith
Dec 21, 2009 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
Apr 08, 2009 rated it did not like it
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...
Apr 27, 2011 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
Laer Carroll
Apr 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
I'm going to have to DNF this book (though I don't think 6 pages even counts as started?) because I just can't.
Like. Get this:

"Rural Goeren-yai and city Verenthanes. The old Lenayin, and the new. The Goeren-yai believed in the ancient spirits of Lenay Hills, the Verenthane in the foreign, lowlands gods. Sasha was born Verenthane but lived amongst the Goren-yai...and was raised by Kessligh as Nasi-Keth, the followers of the teachings of the far-off Saalshen"

Like, just try reading that out loud.

♥ Ashleigh ♥  contrary to popular belief i'm not actually mad!
Mar 13, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Tiyrna Nightschild
Feb 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Coucher de soleil
Jan 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-read
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 28, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Jan 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
May 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
May 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Anabella Gomez
May 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This would have to be one of the best fantasy books I've read in a long time. Contrary to what a lot of other people thought, I found myself dragged into the book's story from the first page and I couldn't put it down. I loved the intriguing politics and philosophical aspects of this series; it was more in-depth than you usually get from a fantasy book and really gets you thinking at times.
I loved Sasha as a character, though I often found myself wincing at some of the things she said or did, b
May 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Vicki
Recommended to Deborah by: Nanci
Shelves: fantasy
Sasha is a princess who leaves her place in the kingdom to train in combat with a highly respected war hero and talented warrior. When the unity of the land is threatened by hot-headed nobles, Sasha finds herself leading the pagan minority--a job she never envisioned nor asked for. She also finds that living the principles of her training first hand is completely different from learning them and thinking she knew how the world worked.

A glossary and a map would have been a nice addition. Luckily
Dec 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Don't agree with the complaints about the first half of the book. It may not have the action of the last half, but such world-building is necessary and in this case was mostly very well done, although some was a little too indirect which led to some temporary confusion for me. The political, social, and religious situation is satisfyingly complex and the heroes/heroines aren't over the top. Quite an excellent start.

Re-read, 8/13. An excellent, 4.5 star introduction to the series.

Re-read, 8/15.
Scott James
Feb 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While reading this book, I honestly thought to myself, "why did I waste so much time on Song of Ice and Fire." I then castigated myself for waiting so long to read it--I've had it on my kindle for months.

I found Sasha to be an entertaining and refreshing story about the balance between privilege and responsibility. I like my fantasy magic-free when I can get it, and the way Shepherd balances religion(s) and philosophy was spot on for the culture he presented.

I feel somewhat lucky that I'm comin
Leah Morris
Oct 18, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-on
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
Jun 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Heroic fantasy, definitely moving towards a saga. It took me longer than I'd like to really get into this, mainly because there existed a plethora of tribes, languages and similar names. Despite that, I loved the characters - their struggles and character flaws were realistic, as were there relationships. They kept me reading, though I found it hard to keep some of the outliers straight, and will get me into book 2. (And I'll reread this one at some point, to fill in the gaps from the links I mi ...more
Lisa Richards
Mar 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
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The Sword and Laser: Free Kindle Book 11 229 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.
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A Trial of Blood & Steel (4 books)
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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.” 7 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.”
More quotes…