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Taking the Prize for Strange Worldbuilding: Jon Sprunk’s Book of the Black Earth

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Blood-and-Iron-Jon-Sprunk-smaller Storm-and-Steel-smaller Blade and Bone-small

Blade and Bone, the long-awaited third book in Jon Sprunk’s Book of the Black Earth series, finally arrives next week. Here’s Sarah Avery from her enthusiastic review of the first one, Blood and Iron:

Of all the wild re-envisionings of the Crusades I’ve seen lately, Jon Sprunk’s Blood and Iron may be the wildest. His alternate-universe Europeans are recognizably European, but the opposing culture they face is that of a Babylonian Empire that never fell. And why has this Babylon-by-another-name persisted for thousands of years, so powerful that only its own internal strife can shake it? Because its royals actually have the supernatural powers and demi-god ancestry that the ruling class of our world’s Fertile Crescent claimed…

Jon Sprunk’s book takes the prize for strange worldbuilding. The Akeshian Empire is approximately what the Akkadian Empire might have looked like, had each of its major cities lasted as long and urbanized as complexly as Rome did… Blood and Iron is overall a strong book, full of powerful imagery and a vivid sense of place, with intriguing historical what-ifs and a sense of moral urgency to match its sense of moral complexity.

Here’s the description for the third volume, Blade and Bone.

[Click the images to embiggen.]

In a world of sorcery and sand, a slave rebellion is out of control and an army of undead is approaching. Does Horace have the power and strength to save what he fought so hard to win?

In a setting reminiscent of ancient Egypt and Babylon, where God-Kings and God-Queens hold the power of life and death in their hands, Horace, the onetime slave who became a powerful magician, has turned the tables on his former masters. Blade and Bone, the third book in The Book of the Black Earth, follows Horace, Alyra, and Jirom as they navigate the hurdles of managing the slave rebellion under the Akeshian Empire’s nose. But evil is not content to sit back and let them gather their strength. A new threat is coming in the form of an unstoppable army of the walking dead. To face this enemy, our heroes will have to dig deeper and find a strength they didn’t know they possessed.

Our previous coverage of the series includes:

Future Treasures: Storm and Steel
The Series Series: Blood and Iron by Sarah Avery
Jon Sprunk’s Blood and Iron, Volume One of The Book of the Black Earth, on Sale Today
An Excerpt from Blood and Iron

Blade and Bone will be published by Pyr on February 27, 2018. It is 287 pages, priced at $18 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital version. The cover is by Jason Chan.

See all our recent coverage of Series Fantasy here.

4 Comments »

  1. My TBR list will never actually get smaller, will it?

    Comment by Joe H. - February 20, 2018 5:24 pm

  2. The only way I know to manage it is to ignore new books for a while…. which I think is a bad idea. A good TBR pile needs to rejuvenate regularly, like a snake shedding its skin. That’s my theory, anyway. :)

    Comment by John ONeill - February 21, 2018 1:38 pm

  3. That’s why my TBR pile is about the same size as the snake from the end of Conan the Destroyer.

    Comment by Joe H. - February 21, 2018 4:09 pm

  4. That really was a fun book, and I’m generally in favor of slave rebellions. I should definitely pick this series up again.

    Comment by Sarah Avery - February 24, 2018 4:03 pm


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