Book Review – Plains of Sand and Steel

Title: Plains of Sand and Steel (Uncommon World #2)
Author: Alisha Klapheke
Published: June 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Goodreads 

Rating: 4 stars
Cover: Don’t like it

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Synopsis:

A ruler’s young bride with a body to conceal, a mercenary bent on revenge, and the Fire magic that will alter their story forever. The Wrath and the Dawn meets Truthwitch in the second standalone, full length novel of the Uncommon World series. When her new royal husband dies at the beginning of an invasion, Seren must hide his body and use the visions the Holy Fire gives her to save the Empire from itself and its enemies. But if the high-ranking general who hates her discovers her secret, he’ll have her put to death.

When invaders slaughter Ona’s family and shatter her artist life, she joins Lucca, an experienced mercenary and her exact opposite, and heads into war. She just knows the “chanting” she can do—imposing one’s will on the world and watching it come to life—will break the invaders and give her sweet vengeance.

Both want to save the Empire but with tangled histories and new passions swirling around them, their divided motivations turn a possible victory into a deadly storm. Join the battle today.

“Ona could smell her own fear and rage like vinegar and blood. Her hands had never vibrated with this kind of power. She was going to kill so many people today.” (Chapter 7)

Happy book birthday to Plains of Sand and Steel by Alisha Klapheke, book two in the Uncommon World series. You can check out my review of the first book Waters of Salt and Sin HERE. I just want to say thanks to the author for giving me an eARC to read. PLUS, she just released the map of the world and goodness, I love book maps, don’t you?

This book goes straight into the action and conflict in the first chapter, resulting in a total emersion into the character’s lives instead of a building up of their stories. We get a chance to hear more about each character’s backgrounds, desires, fears, etc as the story continues. This is different than the first book, but I felt it appropriate for these characters (how many times can I say characters in one paragraph?). Similar to Waters of Salt and Sin, Plains of Sand and Steel deals with some conflict between different classes and roles, however, it was not as much of a focus.

Let’s take a minute to talk about these strong females Klapheke has given us! Seren has found herself in a role she’s completely unfamiliar with after her husband, the Kyros, dies. Her family has been working their way upward in the class system for generations. Seren’s father was hired as the high-ranking general, which brough Seren into the scene to be married to the Seren. After his death, she finds herself in a unique position where she has to decide whether or not to fight for the position of Kyros, a position she believes she deserves but others don’t because of her blood. And fight she does. With encouragement from her friends, she recognizes the unique power she has and the desire she has to lead her people. She not only stands up and demands her title of Kyros, but she stands by her people’s side to fight with them. Of course, it’s a process. She learns to overcome her fear and that nagging voice telling her she’s not good enough, but the journey is inspiring. Just look at this badass line she even gets in chapter 24:

“Never seen a woman with,” he made a flourishing kind of motion with his hands, “these…type ideas.”
“It’s the Holy Fire that gives me these ideas. And perhaps if you asked more women about their thoughts, you’d hear more good ideas.”

On the flip side, we’ve got Ona. Ona is badass from the get-go, she’s already gone through the character development to get her there. But she’s quite different than Seren. Her only goal in life is to kill every last invader because of the wrong they’ve inflicted in her life. She is a passionate fighter and throws herself at everything she does. Ona is ruthless. Her care for the people close to her is the only evidence that her heart isn’t rock solid. And to wrap it all up, she is vulgar and sassy. It’s like night and day, yet both are badass and strong. The only difference is that Seren knows her limits.

Okay, I should probably let you get to know the other characters by actually reading the book, but I just got so excited about these strong females! That being said, there’s some other great characters, like my dear Lucca, but you should just get the book to get to know them yourself.

There were some slower parts that were difficult to get through when life got in the way, but once you got through them, the plot picked up with vengeance. My other disappointment was the cover. I know some people love them, but artistically it’s hard to completely support them.

It was a fun and exciting read. The entire book is basically a battle: a battle with the invaders, a battle for the role of Kyros, a battle with self-discovery, and a battle of secrets. If you like action, what are you doing? Go read it for yourself.

Did you count how many times I said “characters?”

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