The first thing that drew my attention to Blood & Steel by Helen Scheuerer was actually the gorgeous cover. Reading the synopsis only further convinced me this was a book I had to get my hands on. A huge thanks to the author, Helen Scheuerer for the advanced copy because I am super grateful I didn’t end up having to wait in agony for the release date.
Blood & Steel follows the story of Thea, forced into being an Alchemist when all she has ever wanted was to be a fighter and protect her people as a Shieldbearer, and eventually a Warsword. However, due to a prophecy 20 years prior, all women have lost the right to bear weapons and thus Thea has spent much of her life training in secret. Until the day she is caught by a famous Warsword, Wilder Hawthorne, and is brought before her people to be held accountable for going against the law. Rather than receiving the punishment she is expecting, she proves her skills, helped along by a woman who use to be a fighter, Audra, and is instead sent to petition the Kings and Queens to be given the opportunity to do what she has always wanted.
Without going to in depth into the story in order to avoid spoilers, Thea is granted her wish to train as a Shieldbearer and has to deal with the strife that comes along with that. Namely a bunch of males who feel nothing but disdain for a female joining their ranks. This showed what strength of character Thea has, as no matter what they through at her she persevered and she was such a likeable main character in my opinion.
I really enjoyed the training aspect of the story, it was kind of like a school setting with weapons instead of book knowledge. I also loved Thea’s two companions who actually accepted her presence and helped her out. They were both adorable characters. Another thing about this book that I liked right off the bat was the fact that there are a few chapters scattered throughout that are from Wilder’s point of view to kind of get a sense of what he’s thinking and what’s going on on his end of things when he’s not around Thea after bringing her to speak before the Royals.
Thea and Wilder’s relationship is by far my favourite. He goes from the grumpy, unwilling companion to actually opening up to her and the two of them getting along. Amongst much tension of course (the good kind 😉 ). Honestly I feel like the characters were such a strong part of this book and how good it was, because there were so many I really enjoyed and just wanted more of and kept me coming back for more.
The intensity of the story really amps up later on in the book when the monsters that plague Thezmarr make an appearance and battle ensues. I was pretty hooked by this point and finally getting to see the Warswords in action drew me in even more, as I was curious to see what it was that seemed to make them such special warriors. There were a number of questions about them, about magic, prophecies, etc. that has started fluttering through my mind by this point and I needed to keep going with the book in hopes of getting at least some of these answers.
The last bit of the book was a doozy. From rescuing people, to a trial, to an ending between Wilder and Thea that I was expecting but still hit. This epic fantasy romance was just that, and all I can say is go pick this book up because it is incredible! The sequel can’t come soon enough because I need answers, and I need more Thea and Wilder.