I’m back with another blog tour with The Storytellers on Tour for Stone & Steel (The War of the North Saga #1) by Kate Haley. Thanks to the author for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review!
Be sure to click on the banner below to check out the rest of the bloggers on tour!
Goodreads: Stone & Steel (The War of the North #1) Publication Date: 06 May 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Epic Fantasy
Ten years. Thousands dead. No memories.
The amnesia was supposed to be a good thing. Other soldiers bask in its freedom. Except for Elvac it doesn’t feel right. When he returns from his first year at war he can’t shake the niggling sensation that something is missing. His life has been turned upside down, yet he can’t remember being gone. The only proof of his time away are the scars, and the haunting dreams of fire.
With the help of his friends, Elvac begins to regain his lost memories, and with them uncover the truth of his missing year, and what the Church of Sunne is really doing with their War of the North…
BUY NOW: Amazon (US)
Kate Haley is a speculative fiction author who works predominantly in fantasy and horror.
While currently content to fill her days with writing and table-top RPGs, her grander plans involve world domination. Something akin to the tyranny of the greatest city atop the Disc would be an acceptable standard. She believes a super-villainous overlord would be an upgrade, given that our current villains lack style and imagination.
After all, super-villainy requires Presentation.
TL;DR: I’m honestly quite conflicted with my thoughts and feelings about this book because while I really liked the concept and I found the plot and action-packed scenes unique and exciting, I found the writing a bit clunky, especially as POVs changed within chapters quite often, and sadly, I found the main characters pretty frustrating and full of teenage angst. That said, I am curious to see what will happen next and I will continue on with the series.
CW/TW: drug use (forced), drug addiction, torture, human experimentation, war crimes, PTSD
The world that Haley created is vast and complex and we only get a small glimpse of it as we follow our main cast in this action-packed story. The plot also explores the religion of the North and how enmeshed it is with politics, and the effects of Sunne’s war on society. I thought the plot itself was unique and I don’t recall reading a fantasy (especially YA) that encompasses all of the elements that were used, from a ‘religious war’ as mandated by their God, to the nefarious use of drugs to ensure a soldiers’ obedience. There are a lot of dark currents running through this story and the author does not pull punches with the graphic nature of the torture and other grotesquely dark scenes.
I was a bit thrown at the start as we’re put straight into the action without much context, and though some elements become clearer as the story progresses, I found that we learned very surface level details about the religion and how the world is shaped; which is a bit of a shame because there’s so much that can be explored from the different races and cultures, to how Sunne basically took over the North. My interest was definitely piqued especially by the cultural aspects, and I hope that they get better explored in the upcoming books. Haley does include a lot of detail in the writing to set the scenes but I admit to having a difficult time placing myself in those scenes (but that could’ve just been a ‘me’ thing rather than the writing?).
We’re also introduced to a large cast of characters although Elvac, Katinka and Sabeh are the key protagonists. I actually really liked the friend group–they’re all from different areas in the North and have distinct physical and cultural characteristics that set them apart. The banter between them was great and showed how close they were as friends, and it provided much needed relief between the much more tense and dramatic moments within the group. The only friend I really ended up disliking was Benji because *cue drama and angst*. 🙄
And speaking of angst… Elvac and Katinka were the ones I had the most issue with and that was because of the semi-love-triangle thing going on and it’s safe to say I found this romantic drama unnecessary. Elvac is the “good-guy” whose harmonious philosophy guided him (until he went off to fight in the war), and although he’s a very black/white character, I did like him to start–that is, until 90% of his thoughts ended up being consumed by jealousy and bitterness because of his ‘love’ for Katinka. It was petty and not endearing or pitiful in the least and just made his character so unlikable. Which brings me to Katinka, who I did not like at all. 😂 She’s horrible and she treats her “friend” like dirt, and I don’t understand why they’re in love with her. I understood her desperation and motives to complete this “mission”, but that doesn’t mean you get to act like a cow and treat people like shit. End of story.
I know this makes it seem like I didn’t enjoy the book (LOL), but I did and enough so to continue on with the series! I’m really curious to see where the story picks up in book two and hopefully the characters get some good growth and we get to learn more about this world because there’s really so much to explore!
Have you read Steel & Stone or is it on your TBR?