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The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Review: Iron Axe by Steven Harper

Iron Axe
Author:  Steven Harper
Series:  The Books of Blood and Iron 1
Publisher:  Roc, January 6, 2015
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780451468468(print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review: Iron Axe by Steven Harper
In this brand new series from the author of the Clockwork Empire series, a hopeless outcast must answer Death’s call and embark on an epic adventure....

Although Danr’s mother was human, his father was one of the hated Stane, a troll from the mountains. Now Danr has nothing to look forward to but a life of disapproval and mistrust, answering to “Trollboy” and condemned to hard labor on a farm.

Until, without warning, strange creatures come down from the mountains to attack the village. Spirits walk the land, terrifying the living. Trolls creep out from under the mountain, provoking war with the elves. And Death herself calls upon Danr to set things right.

At Death’s insistence, Danr heads out to find the Iron Axe, the weapon that sundered the continent a thousand years ago. Together with unlikely companions, Danr will brave fantastic and dangerous creatures to find a weapon that could save the world—or destroy it.

Brannigan's Review

Iron Axe brought back fond memories of a classic fantasy book while still offering a wonderfully unique take on the genre. The story follows the basic quest formula, but the characters and their inner struggles are the stars of the book. Each of the struggles are strong enough to contain their own novels and are broad enough to interest almost anyone. Steven Harper created a world that I never got tired of exploring. He takes very well-known monsters and races and gives them interesting twists that requires the reader to look at these different races in a new light.

Harper's protagonist, Danr, is a half-human, half-troll, giving him a fascinating inner struggle throughout the book. Ever since Danr's mother died, he's struggled to find a place in his world among the human race, and when that fails he attempts to find one with the trolls. Danr's struggle to understand what he is—man or monster—and where he belongs, sends him all over the world looking for answers. On his journey, he also tries to find a way to stop a war that's threatening to spread over the whole continent and involve several different races.

Truth is another theme that runs throughout the book and, at times, nearly destroys Danr's friendship with both Aisa and Talfi. It begs the question: Is the truth always worth knowing or sharing? Should those we love be honest with us all of the time or is that too destructive?

My one issue with the book was Harper's choice to negate some of the results of the characters' choices at the end of the book. However, I understand why he did it, and I'm sure there will be some readers that will enjoy his decision. I, for one, enjoy seeing my characters have to make the hard choices and then live with the consequences no matter how hard or destructive. I feel like that's where a story truly becomes interesting—when we see how characters pull through.

Iron Axe is an enjoyable first book to a new series. It has plenty to offer to long-time fantasy readers as Harper twists the races and offers interesting struggles. There are acts of violence, language, and adult situations, so I would recommend it to older teens and adults. I would also recommend this book to anyone who loves interesting characters and character struggles. I'd also recommend it to anyone looking for a new take on familiar monsters and races.

Melanie's Week in Review - July 28, 2013

Melanie's Week in Review - July 28, 2013

Melanie's Week in Review - July 28, 2013
As some of you might know I read the Riyria Chronicles by Michael J.Sullivan last week.  This got me all nostalgic and I decided to have my very own Riyria reunion. Who better to get back in touch with than Royce and Hadrian. The ultimate good cop, not so bad cop. I started with Theft of Swords this week. I will read the remaining books of the Riyria Revelations over the next few weeks. Reading the 'Chronicles' series has really added a new dimension to the 'Revelations' series. I enjoyed this book again and sure that I will feel the same way about the following books.

Melanie's Week in Review - July 28, 2013In between reading the Chronicles and first of the Revelations I needed something I could read in a day.  I flipped through the Kindle recommendations and it came up with book 9, Lover Unleashed of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R Ward. I have read a few but not all of this series. If you have read my 'week in reviews' before you will know that I am especially choosy about what PNR I read. Everyone gives the BDB series such positive reviews so I thought it could be just what I was looking for. I also read quite a few reviews about book 9 and some said that the sex scenes were much tamer than the other books so I thought this would be perfect as an 'inbetweener'. Holy cats is all I can say.  If those sex scenes are tame then I must cloistered...almost nun like. While I will admit PNR isn't my favourite I do like some of it especially where plot prevails over the 'R'. It wasn't the case with this installment which was all hot and steamy from almost chapter 1. What perplexes me about the BDB books is that these are vampires that have been around for 400-500 years but they talk like they have just stepped off the Wire..and not as the cops.  Is saying 'true' part of modern venacular?  If so....stop it immediately. I know people love this series and I am not the biggest fan. I have read several of the books trying to figure it all out. I guess I will have to live with the knowledge that these books are not my cup of tea.

Melanie's Week in Review - July 28, 2013I apologise profusely to all the books I haven't finished this week.  I am dolefully behind but I keep adding more. I haven't finished The Havoc Machine by Steven Harper. I am not sure that I will. I feel quite pathetic but I am totally judging the book by the cover. I cringe every time I look at it and just not engaging with the characters. I have started Broken Elements by Mia Marshall and quite surprised how much I am enjoying it.  I feel bad because I have had this from NetGalley for a few fact ... long enough to get book 2 Shifting Elements from NetGalley too.  I won't even go into the books I got from NetGalley this week!!!!

I am watching Skyfall as I write this and about to hit the big highlight of the plot so better get back to it.  Until next week Happy Reading.

Winners x 15!!

And the winners are....

US Mass Market Paperback of Avenger's Angel (Lost Angels 1) by Heather Killough-Walden

Winners x 15!!

5 Winners:  booklover0226, ChrisbailsBrooklynn Gibbs,  
Debby, and The Happy Booker.

Winners x 15!!

Lady Caroline Necklace created by Cemetery Cat Jewelry

Winners x 15!!

Question:  Do you have any favorite covers or ones that didn’t work for you and why?

Sara M who said...
I will admit, covers are a big part of my reading experience. The reviews I write on my blog are split into four categories: plot, pace, characters, and cover. Because these are the make or break factors of a book for me.

The one book that I've picked up solely for the cover: Wither by Lauren DeStefano (which I ended up really enjoying even though it's outside of my genre preferences).

And some of my favorite covers are ones that include a lot of relevant details to the plot: Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep and Tempest Rising by Nicole Peeler.
Winners x 15!!

Germline (Subterrene War 1) by T.C. McCarthy

Winners x 15!!

Question:  Science Fiction or Science Fact?

J.K. Coi who said...
OMG this book looks fantastic! I love science fiction, it doesn't matter how much fact is thrown in, but I want even the non-factual science to sound plausible, you know?
Winners x 15!!

The Doomsday Vault (Clockwork Empire 1) by Steven Harper

Winners x 15!!

Question:  Do you have a favorite Steampunk novel or story?

Julie who said...
My favorite so far is Clockwork Angel, but I've got The Iron Duke and Soulless waiting on my bookshelf and I hear they're pretty good, too!
Winners x 15!!

The Hunter (Legend Chronicles 1) by Theresa Meyers

Winners x 15!!

Question:  Paranormal Romance, Steampunk Romance, or any kind of Romance?

Maegan Morin who said...
I like any kind of romance!! Thanks for the giveaway!

Winners x 15!!

Dead Mann Walking (Hessius Mann 1) by Stefan Petrucha (signed)

Winners x 15!!

Question:  Favorite novel, short story, movie, TV show with zombies?

Sariah said...

Right now I would have to say The Walking Dead. Love that show!!! Thanks for the chance.
Winners x 15!!

North of Need (e-book) by Laura Kaye (International) and North of Need Trading Cards (US/Canada)

Winners x 15!!

Question:  Which cover do you like better and why? How important are covers to you in making you consider and/or buy a book?

North of Need (e-book)

Denise Z who said...

I have a definite preference for the North of Need cover. It is lovely and mysterious. I want to hold it and look closer at what is not clear and try to figure out what it means. The other cover is lovely, but if I was in a bookstore I would definitely pick up North of Need to see what it was about:) Thank you for taking the time to share with us today and for the awesome giveaway opportunity.

North of Need Trading Cards

donnas who said...

I really think both covers are awesome and Im not sure I can pick one between the two. As for importance in buying a book. The cover might make me pick it up and look at it, but unless it sounds good too I wont buy it based on cover alone.

Winners x 15!!

Seed by Rob Ziegler

Winners x 15!!

Question:  Which post-apocalyptic or dystopian novel would you recommend?

TheGirlOnFire who said...

I just finished The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch and really enjoyed it. I would definitely recommend it!
Winners x 15!!

Gift basket (US/Canada) and Hot Vampire Kiss / Hot Vampire Seduction (e-books) (International) from Lisa Renee Jones

Winners x 15!!

Winners x 15!!

Question:  If you wrote a novel, short story, novella, etc. what would be the name of your Main Chararcter?

Gift basket:

Rachel who said...

Actually, I've been creating background stuff for writing my own novel, and my main character is Evan.

Hot Vampire Kiss / Hot Vampire Seduction (e-books):

Gena R who said...

Oh wow, I've just added your books to my TBR list. They sound awesome!

I'd also use a combination of my son's names of Challan and Seth - Something like Chaleth perhaps. It's different, anyway!
Winners x 15!!

The winners have been notified and have until 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on Saturday, December 10, 2011 to respond or The Qwillery will very randomly choose a new winner or winners.

Thank you very much to everyone who reads The Qwillery.

Guest Blog by Steven Harper - Steampunk: The Resurgence - November 10, 2011

Please welcome Steven Harper to The Qwillery. The Doomsday Vault (Clockwork Empire 1) was published by Roc on November 1, 2011.


I blame Steve Jobs.

No, really. I'm not speaking ill of the dead. He just did such a fine job of getting us used to sleek toys that zip and zoom that we lost touch with how things really operate. It doesn't help that he also sealed his technology in an envelope of slippery glass and sleek steel, and locked his codes away like Mom's dark chocolates.

"Mustn't touch," he purred. "No need to see. No need to understand. Just use."

It's not just little computers, actually. Even larger machines like cars and bicycles joined the use-don't-touch conspiracy.

A while ago my car, a 2009 Cobalt, needed a new headlight. That's a simple job, and rather than pay a mechanic $50, I figured I'd handle it myself. I looked up the part on-line, bought it, and opened the hood. And discovered the entire engine compartment was covered with a giant sneeze guard. It was impossible to touch anything except the oil dipstick and the washer fluid intake. After some study, I figured out how the stupid thing was fastened down, but the fasteners required special tools to manipulate, tools I didn't own or even have a name for. I couldn't touch the engine of my own car.

But it goes on. You'd think that a bike, that most old-fashioned of transportation machines, would remain aloof from the conspiracy. But no.

Whenever my old ten speed of twenty years broke down--flat tire, rubbing brakes, chewing gears--I would haul out my toolbox, flip my bike upside-down in the driveway, and fix it with a screwdriver and wrench. This arrangement suited both of us well. Unfortunately, the old workhorse died on me a few months ago, forcing me to replace it with a $500 model complete with shock absorbers, disc brakes, and flick-of-the-thumb gear changers. A few days after I acquired this shiny new velocipede, the handlebars came unexpectedly loose and skewed in a half-circle, spilling me to the ground. Limping, I got out my tools to set things aright, but for the life of me couldn't figure out how to tighten the bars. Nothing. And I'd been fixing bikes since I was twelve.

Now angry, I took the temperamental pile of metal back to the bike shop and ordered them to fix it. The shop guy extracted from his tool collection a spidery widget I'd never seen before, inserted a long, thin leg into a deep hole on my bike, and tightened the handlebars. Without this specialized tool, there was no way for me to fix something as simple as my own bike.

And, as I've already mentioned, you can't get into most computerized machines.The vast majority of us can't assemble a motherboard, install RAM, or read code. Everything is sealed tightly away. The hands-off conspiracy has fingers everywhere.

As a result, we miss our machines. We miss being able to touch them, see how they work. My sons are fascinated with big train engines, with puffing pistons and roaring boilers, even though they've never in their lives ridden on a train. They like pounding nails and twisting screws. We all do.

Steampunk machines are BIG. They're real enough to touch. We can see how they work (even when they patently wouldn't work). Steampunk gives us computers the size of refrigerators and robots the size of trees, blimps the size of houses, machines with a connect-the-dots reality that we long for.

And if we can't get it in our real lives, what better place to find it than in a book?

About the Clockwork Empire Series

The Doomsday Vault
Clockwork Empire 1
Roc, November 1, 2011
Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages

Guest Blog by Steven Harper - Steampunk: The Resurgence - November 10, 2011
In a clockwork Brittania, Alice's prospects are slim. At 21, her age and her unladylike interest in automatons have sealed her fate as an undesirable marriage prospect. But a devastating plague sends Alice off in a direction beyond the pale-towards a clandestine organization, mad inventors, life-altering secrets, and into the arms of an intrepid fiddle-playing airship pilot.

The Impossible Cube (Clockwork Empire 2) is presently scheduled for publication in May 2012.

About Steven

Guest Blog by Steven Harper - Steampunk: The Resurgence - November 10, 2011
Steven Harper Piziks was born in Saginaw, Michigan, but he moved around a lot and has lived in Wisconsin, Germany, and (briefly) Ukraine. Currently he lives with his three sons in southeastern Michigan.

His novels include In the Company of Mind and Corporate Mentality, both science fiction published by Baen Books. Writing as Steven Harper for Roc Books, he has produced The Silent Empire series. He’s also written books based on Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and The Ghost Whisperer, as well as the movie novelization Identity, which he managed under a deadline of only three weeks. His numerous short stories have appeared, among other places, in all but one of Esther Friesner’s Chicks in Chainmail anthologies and in all of her humorous suburban fantasy anthology. Currently he’s working on The Clockwork Empire steampunk trilogy for Ace Book, and The Doomsday Vault, the first in the series, is due out in November, 2011.

Booklist calls his novels “fast, furious, and absorbing,” and “intelligent entertainment.” Strange Horizons says his work is filled with “fast-paced adventure filled with intrigue and populated with characters you care about,” and The Romantic Times writes that “Harper . . . creates a compelling universe.”

Steven currently teaches high school English in southeast Michigan. His students think he’s hysterical, which isn’t the same as thinking he’s hilarious. When not writing, he plays the folk harp, dabbles in oral storytelling, and spends more time on-line than is probably good for him.

Steven's Links


The Giveaway


What:  One commenter will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of The Doomsday Vault (Clockwork Empire 1) from The Qwillery.

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

Do you have a favorite Steampunk novel or story?

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)  Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)  Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3)  Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. In addition please leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Thursday, November 17, 2011. Void where prohibited by law. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*

The View From Monday - November 7, 2011

Happy 1st Monday in Novmeber! We finally were able to celebrate Halloween in my neighborhood this past Saturday. The children were happy and it was nice to reconnect with everyone after a week without power!

This week at The Qwillery:

Monday - A guest post from Heather Killough-Walden. Her latest book, Avenger's Angel (Lost Angels 1), was published on November 1, 2011.

Tuesday - A guest post from debut author E.S. Moore as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge. To Walk the Night will be published in January 2012.

Wednesday - An interview with T.C. McCarthy as part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge interviews. T.C.'s debut novel, Germline, was published on August 1, 2011.

Thursday - A guest post from Steven Harper whose latest book, The Doomsday Vault (Clockwork Empire 1) was published on November 1, 2011.

Friday - A guest post from Theresa Meyers. The Hunter (Legend Chronicles 1) was published on November 1, 2011.

This week's releases are below. A book shopping list in PDF format may be found by clicking here. Click "File" on the left and then "Print (PDF)."

November 7, 2011

The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
The View From Monday - November 7, 2011
Philip K. Dick
Pamela Jackson (ed)
Jonathan Lethem (ed)

November 8, 2011

Fighting to Survive
The View From Monday - November 7, 2011
Rhiannon Frater H - As the World Dies 2
11/22/63: A Novel
The View From Monday - November 7, 2011
Stephen King SF / AH / TT
The View From Monday - November 7, 2011
L. E. Modesitt, Jr. F - Imager Portfolio 4
Them or Us
The View From Monday - November 7, 2011
David Moody H - Hater Trilogy 3
Fleet of Worlds (ri)
The View From Monday - November 7, 2011
Larry Niven SF - Known Space
Dawn of the Dead
The View From Monday - November 7, 2011
George Romero
Susanna Sparrow
The Alloy of Law
The View From Monday - November 7, 2011
Brandon Sanderson F - Mistborn 4
Seed (d)
The View From Monday - November 7, 2011
Robert Ziegler SF

d - debut
ri - reissue

AH - Alternate History
F - Fantasy
H - Horror
SF - Science Fiction
TT - Time Travel
Review: Iron Axe by Steven HarperMelanie's Week in Review - July 28, 2013Winners x 15!!Guest Blog by Steven Harper - Steampunk: The Resurgence - November 10, 2011The View From Monday - November 7, 2011

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