Book Review: The Blacksmith Queen by G.A. Aiken

June 12, 2020 Book Reviews 0

Book Review: The Blacksmith Queen by G.A. Aiken

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Blacksmith Queen by G.A. Aiken
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Published by Kensington Books on August 27, 2019
Pages: 304
Format: eBook
Source: the library
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Also by this author: Light My Fire

First in The Scarred Earth Saga fantasy series, a spin-off from Aiken’s Dragon Kin series and revolving around a female blacksmith who believes in protecting people.

My Take

Whoa, this one starts out violent! Chopping off heads, hacking up anybody who’s not them.

Who’s them? Everybody not me.

How can you NOT adore Keeley Smythe!! She’s so tolerant of everyone and everything. And fairly blinkered in her assessments.

“Live is too short to go around hating things I know nothing about.”

She also has quite the capitalistic enterprise and employs a variety of people in her forge. Keeley is also somewhat annoying in that she loves that the women in her family are independent — “ignoring all the men who tried to tell them no…but they still won’t always do what she tells them.

It’s too funny. Okay, yeah, it’s really violent, but it is funny with the silly sibling rivalry. I adore the acceptance that Keeley’s family is into as well as their practicality when their farm is invaded. Boo-yah!!

“‘Well, after ten thousand children, one had to be bad.’

Despite the tears, Keeley gave a short laugh. ‘My mother did not have ten thousand children.’

‘I’ve sat at dinner with all of them…it felt like ten thousand.'”

There are several points-of-view. The first is the historian, a cousin, using first person point-of-view. But then it quickly evolves into a third person global subjective point-of-view with a number of characters giving their perspectives.

The Blacksmith Queen eventually makes vague references to some dragons, and Aiken is getting my hopes up that we’ll be seeing some of the dragons from Aiken’s Dragon Kin series. Fingers crossed.

It’s mostly an introduction to this world and its various peoples, Aiken’s characters are similar in their irreverence to the Dragon Kin ones. Sure there is a TON of action, but it all feels more like a prologue. A too short story. And I’ve gotta know how it gets resolved. It’s Keeley’s belief that power is for making people safe. It’s not what her sister believes. And I wanna read how that sister gets hers…!

The Story

The Old King is dead and the succession is hotly contested. Keeley Smythe, a entrepreneurial blacksmith, finds that war is great for business. But a prophecy claims Keeley Smythe’s younger sister, Beatrix, is the next queen.

It’s war and destruction with the remaining princes after Beatrix and her family, whom Keeley will do everything to protect from the enraged royals. 
 
Luckily, Keeley doesn’t have to fight alone. Because thundering to her aid comes a clan of kilt-wearing mountain warriors called the Amichai. Not the most socially adept group, but soldiers have never bothered Keeley, and rough, gruff Caid, actually seems to respect her. A good thing because the fierce warrior will be by her side for a much longer ride than any prophecy ever envisioned.

The Characters

In the Hill Lands
Keeley Smythe is a talented blacksmith who loves her hammer and her extended family. She’s also good with bones and muscles. Of her eleven siblings, Gemma is the slightly younger sister who ran off ten years ago and became a nun. Endelyon intends to work with Keeley as a blacksmith. Isadora. The self-centric Beatrix prefers to read and wear pretty dresses. Angus Farmerson is her father, a former warrior who is now a farmer. Emma is their mother, the Blacksmith Maiden, from a line of blacksmiths. Keran the Unforgiving is her cousin, a fighter, who’s retired. Archibald is Angus’ nutjob brother who’s very paranoid. Archie’s horses include Brim and Frannie. Big Bart is one of Angus’ horses. Butch had been their mother’s dog.

The gray mare’s son is Keeley’s friend. Nelly is/had been a midwife. Rob is a perv who gets what’s coming to him. Daniel is a shoemaker. Old Stump runs a pub.

The Witches of Amhuinn…
…live in the mountains and prefer math, science, and logic. Belinda is the Witch Queen. Delora is the so-called seer. Turns out Delora’s mother was brilliant in math, science, and logic but had lousy taste in men.

The Amichai are…
…considered to be barbarians, centaurs who can blend into any herd of horses. They also seem to be referred to as Protectors. Caid and his sister, Laila, are of the Scarred Earth Clan; Laila is also the Only Daughter of the Clan Chief. The crazy Quinn is their brother. Gaira is their Mother and Chieftain of all the Clans while Hearn is their Father and the Chief of their Clan. He’s also the one who saved Angus that day. Farlan and Cadell are with Caid and Laila. Kel is one of the centaurs who follow Hearn. Henok is Hearn’s personal messenger.

Petra Azhischenkov of the True Horse Blood of the Black Sea of Pain and Longing in the Far Reaches of the Steppes of the Outerplains is the strongest healer. Diarmad is the young idiot son of the Chief of the Clan of the Red Rivers.

The Dwarves
Mundric is king. Vulfegundis is his queen. General Unroch is a warrior. Soiffart’s Anvil is a test.

The Elves
Lord Elouan is the king’s emissary, intent on prolonging their talks.

The Barbarians
Torin-sa is their leader.

In the Black Hills, of all the Old King’s sons…
…only five princes remain to rule. Prince Marius the Wielder of Hate is the oldest and most feared. He currently holds the castle and half his father’s men and is partnered with his unmaternal mother, Lady Maila, the lead consort who claims to be the Dowager Queen. She’ll force Agathon, a cousin and the Old King’s Follower of His Word, to be her Keeper of Her Word. Duke Gennadius raises a challenge and finds his child a hostage.

Prince Straton the Devourer has an army of mercenaries. Lars is one of his. Prince Cyrus the Honored took the other half of their father’s men. Princes Theodorus and Theotimus haven’t yet earned an epithet but they are renowned for their viciousness.

A port town
Efa and her sister manage to hide out when their town was attacked. The Ó Broin sisters are all nature witches.

Peace Monks are religious zealots. War Monks are greatly feared knights who dedicate their lives and souls to Morthwyl, a war god. They can also raise the dead. Samuel is a War Monk-in-training. The Warlocks of Godomor. Ofydd Naw is the Amichai’s eight-legged war god. Maelgwn is the demon wolf god. Sichar is a powerful dwarf god who lost some gold.

The Cover and Title

The cover is essentially black and red. The red of charcoal and flames of a blacksmith’s forge and the gleaming steel of a crown inset with rubies of varying sizes. The text is all white but for the pale yellow of the testimonial at the bottom. At the top is an info blurb with the author’s name writ large below that and above the crown. The title is centered below the crown.

The title is the primary protagonist, for she may be The Blacksmith Queen.

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