Book Review: The Fangs of War (The Blood and Steel Saga, #1) by E.J. Doble

Book Review: The Fangs of War (The Blood and Steel Saga, #1) by E.J. Doble

Cover art illustrated by Diego Spezzoni

The Fangs of War by E.J. Doble

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Blood and Steel Saga (Book #1 of 5)

Genre: Fantasy, Grimdark Fantasy, Epic Fantasy

Pages: 575 pages (Hardback edition)

Published: 11th January 2022 (Self-Published)

It is an impressive feat that a young 21-year-old writer wrote and published a grimdark fantasy debut the like of The Fangs of War.

In the science fiction and fantasy landscape, comparatively, 21 years old can be considered a young age to debut in the adult fantasy industry. I haven’t even started reading adult fantasy books seriously at that age. But most importantly, The Fangs of War by E.J. Doble is a good grimdark fantasy novel. I first stumbled upon The Fangs of War on Instagram two years ago. I cannot remember who shared it, but I saw the beautiful cover art illustrated by Diego Spezzoni, and it instantly went into my TBR pile. It was not until I got the Page & Wick special edition of The Fangs of War a few months ago that I decided to read it. I am not too satisfied with the quality of the Page & Wick edition of the novel, but as far as the narrative goes, as I said, it was great.

“The inevitability of fate shall come for us all in the end.”

The Fangs of War is the first book in The Blood and Steel Saga by E.J. Doble. It is the first installment in a planned five-book grimdark fantasy series. After the brutal execution of Provenci’s King by the roving forces of Tarraz, a new military government vaults into power with the nefarious Alvarez at the helm. Hell-bent on bloodshed and the glory of an imperial past, he amasses the largest army seen in a generation and plunges the two nations into a bloody war, against the will of the god-like being known as the All-Mother. This story with themes of power, corruption, betrayal, greed, and hatred is told through the perspective of seven main POV characters.

Cavara, Broska, Jinx, Savanta, Markus, Revek, and Alvarez. Remember these seven characters.

Yes, seven main POV characters. The first thing you need to know before you enter The Fangs of War is it might require some patience to get used to the POV characters. This isn’t to say they were not well-written. But the constant change of seven POV characters in consecution does mean, for a while, we don’t have enough time spent with a POV character to feel invested quickly. Readers are required to read multiple other POV characters first before we get back to their storyline again. However, once everything started to click, the voices of the main characters sang louder, and I found the narrative more difficult to put down.

“Bedtime stories and tales of legend often have a terrible habit of exaggerating the truth… If possessing any truth at all, that is.”

A big part of The Fangs of War is about establishing these characters, their background, and motivations. In a way, for better or worse, this is the strength and weakness of the novel. The book is almost 600 pages long, and for half of the cast of characters, it felt like not too many significant events occurred. Fortunately, Doble’s prose is beautiful and visceral at the right moment. Although, in my opinion, the constant exposure to skirmishes and small battles in the first half of The Fangs of War made the pacing a bit sluggish, everything paid off nicely in the latter half. If I am asked to choose a favorite POV character… Well, I cannot choose just one, so I will settle with what I think as my favorite storylines: the duo of Broska and Jinx and Savanta and Markus.

The development of their character relationship felt organic and heartfelt, and I was enthralled by the storytelling direction of their perspectives. Without spoilers, Markus, in particular, really took me by surprise. There were some moments when I was confused why The Fangs of War was marked as a grimdark novel, but after I progressed through it further and further, I think this debut novel deserves to exist in the subgenre. We’re reading from the perspective of the virtuous and the villainous characters. Revek and Alvarez are awful individuals who need to be taken down, but I cannot deny how much color and compulsion they bring to the story. The Fangs of War would be a weaker novel without them.

As proven in the final chapters of The Fangs of War, the potential for the sequel to be superior is immense. Despite the relatively long page count, this book feels like a groundwork novel in order for the rest of the series to shine. The endings were exciting, to say the least. The Fangs of War is truly the start of an ambitious, violent, and well-written grimdark fantasy series. I look forward to reading the next installments in The Blood and Steel Saga series.

You can order this book from: Amazon | Blackwells (Free International shipping)

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