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Stone and Steel

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  75 ratings  ·  28 reviews
In Stone and Steel, when General Aaliyah returns triumphant to the city of Titus, she expects to find the people prospering under the rule of her Queen, the stone mage Odessa. Instead, she finds a troubling imbalance in both the citizens’ well-being and Odessa’s rule. Aaliyah must rely on all of her allies, old and new, to do right by the city that made her.

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Published September 5th 2020 by Neon Hemlock Press
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Average rating 3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  75 ratings  ·  28 reviews

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Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)
From the author's Twitter:
"Looking for a f/f speculative novella that's black as hell and queer as hell? Look no further than Stone and Steel out September 5th."
-Via Eboni
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Full review to come to the blog. But this was a blast to read. Smoldering leading to intense action and a lot of messy queer drama that I am Here For. Love the sense of one revolution leading into a second because the first time it didn't really go right. Love that the answer is basically increased accountability, increased trust, rather than paranoia and greed. Such a great read! ...more
Mar 04, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novellas
This was not "great." The prose was weak and the world felt extremely underdeveloped. But, but, I enjoyed it. I had no problem finishing this off in a couple days. I liked the story and characters even if they were rather opaque. This feels like a project that should have stayed in the workshop longer. Hopefully it is in that stage. Because I think that there are some good ideas here and it could be turned into a really great trilogy if it was just workshopped like...A LOT more.

Sexual violence?
Oct 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A brightly written, graceful story about a general returning home and discovering her Queen has betrayed their people. Lovely worldbuilding, fascinating characters.
Oct 12, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, novella
This was a very disappointing book. The writing is decent and there is some potential in the setting and plot, but the whole thing is so sloppily executed that I only finished reading it because it is so short. It is doubly disappointing that it is nonetheless so highly rated; if you want to read speculative fiction/fantasy novellas by queer people of color, I'd suggest Kai Ashante Wilson's The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps or A Taste of Honey or even J.Y. Yang's Tensorate series, such as The Black T ...more
Jan 04, 2021 rated it liked it
I am really, REALLY struggling with whether to give this 2 or 3 stars. I am settling on 2.5 stars rounded up because yay Black speculative fiction authors. #sorrynotsorry

However, this comes with a caveat. I do not think this was particularly well-written. I know that novellas can tell a complete story in a short amount of time, and have seen it done on numerous occasions. I do not feel like this book accomplished that. I still had too many unanswered questions at the end. There were typos and pu
Patty Nicole Johnson
Sep 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The character dynamics really snuck up on me. They were well drawn and engaging.

It was fast paced yet contextual enough to build a vast alternative world.

Come for the mages, stay for the maglis.

It’s a must read for long time fans of fantasy and newcomers alike.
Sep 22, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm very conflicted with this story. I'm going to break my review into things I liked and didn't like.

The story is told from the perspective of Aaliyah, Aaliyah is a General and has returned home to Titus from a years long campaign. Aaliyah expected to see Titus prospering under the rule of Odessa; instead, the people are being neglected and hungry, and to criticize Odessa is treason. Aaliyah decides to do right by the people of Titus.

Things I liked:
-Eboni Dunbar is a good writer. The pacing o
Audra (ouija.reads)
Black, queer fantasy—now here's something there isn't enough of in this world!

Dunbar captures a classic fantasy feel with a kingdom where people have elemental powers but makes it totally her own with a very modern style. What I loved most about this story were the messy relationships and flawed characters. I feel like often in fantasy, characters can feel infallible, but Dunbar wasn't afraid to make her characters layered, which to me, made them more real. In a read that's perfect for one sitti
Feb 18, 2021 rated it liked it
Really this is like a 2.5 star book. There are a lot of really good ideas in this book, but it's just not well executed. Which is a shame, because if it had a good editor I think it really could have shone. I love queernorm worlds, and there's a lot of fun ideas floating around here. But there's not enough time for anything to breathe, and the merging of modern slang with epic fantasy is mainly in dialogue and not in the actual narration and it just doesn't quite work. That's basically the whole ...more
Oct 14, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

This review and others posted over at Milliebot Reads.

Thank you to Neon Hemlock for sending me this book for free in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.

Stone and Steel covers a lot of ground fantasy novel readers will be familiar with. Would I love to see the world, especially the magic system, and the characters fleshed out more? Of course! This is yet another book that I easily could have read a full-length novel of.

I’m a dingus and didn’t make a note of the different types o
Mar 05, 2021 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
A crisp and swiftly paced Black Queer epic fantasy novella. Aaliyah returns with her army of warriors and mages to her home city of Titus. Victorious in war, she is ready to return to the love of her queen, Odessa, but finds their people mired in hunger and poverty, and Aaliyah’s old worries of Odessa’s thirst for status and power is bared as reality, not just rumination. Now Aaliyah must reevaluate her connections to old lovers and enemies, to save her people and her own self worth from the gho ...more
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An immensely enjoyable fantasy with a cast of layered, flawed and compelling characters. Kick ass female lead, and themes of loyalty, duty and honor. I've never seen a fantasy accomplish world building with such economy, but there's nothing left undone here in Dunbar's debut long fiction. She draws you immediately into her world, with brushstroke descriptions of magic and warriors. I will read anything she writes, and recommend you do the same. ...more
Sci-Fi & Scary
Sep 21, 2020 marked it as other-crew-read
Brian's review of STONE AND STEEL is now up at Sci-Fi & Scary.

"She knows the reader’s expectations and gives them all of the good stuff in a small package: political intrigue, battles, familial secrets, betrayals, double-crosses, revelations. "

For his full review, please look here:
Mar 26, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, queer
The biggest problem with this book is that it should not have been a novella. I can't say for certain if the author could have pulled this off as a novella, but the story definitely needed more room to be flushed out. ...more
Nov 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was okay

I know it’s a novella, but the storyline was pretty cliche. The main character did not deserve the lover she ended up with, everyone and everything was pretty flat. 4 stars for being Black and having gay characters.
Oct 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a great story, the world building was interesting and I loved the plethora of queer characters. Some of the magic system was confusing — I think one of the mages used stone and air but I thought mages could only use one each — but still entertaining.
Jen Brown
Nov 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was so good! Cool magic systems; tyrant queens to be reckoned with; queer Black women wrecking shop; a magical fantasy neighborhood that actually *felt* Black as hell? I'll take it all, thank you! ...more
The FountainPenDiva, Old school geek chick and lover of teddy bears
Look. At. That. COVER!!!

Best reason for me to buy it, lol.

It's fantasy. With an awesome dark-skinned Black girl.

Another great reason for me to buy it!
Dec 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
A great and emotional tale that deals with love, betrayal and family. Would certainly be interested in reading more stories set it this world.
WC Dunlap
Nov 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Magnificent building of a world and characters that linger long after reading this concise and neat epic. I hope that this becomes a series! I need more Titus and more of Aaliyah.
Nov 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent novella. Doing what is right even when you have to go against someone you love, your family, someone with power. It is important to hold those in power to a high standard.
Feb 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021
I wish this was a whole series! I would happily read more about this world and caracters.
Mar 27, 2021 added it
Shelves: fantasy, lgbt
This was not very good... way too much lore and too many characters for a 91 page novella. I didn’t end up caring about any of it. I’m sad because I really wanted to like it!
Apr 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
Andre Boone
Sep 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Stone and Steel has all the enjoyable fantasy props (magic, swords, etc.) that fans of the genre seek. This story is made especially strong by its fast pace and strong description.
rated it liked it
Feb 20, 2021
Kiera Schimke
rated it liked it
Dec 14, 2020
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