Look At That: ‘Sasha’ by Joel Shepherd

August 3, 2009

Sasha 2The cover for Joel Shepherd’s Sasha: A Trial of Blood & Steel recently caught my eye, though I have to admit that I knew next to nothing about the book’s upcoming release from Pyr until stumbling upon it.  Since, I have read several positive reviews from over the pond which shaped it up to be something I might enjoy, and I may have to take a closer look as a result.

What intrigued me about the cover was its simplicity. In the foreground we have an attractive young lady, plainly adorned and practically equipped for battle with sword drawn, standing in front of a medieval army force seemingly at the ready. There’s a look of steady determination on her face and while you can almost see the “troublemaker” that Shepherd describes on his blog, you can also discern something more. I’ve seen more intricate covers, sure, but this seemingly minimalistic approach by David Palumbo was actually kind of a breath of fresh air and very effective at drawing me in to find out more about who this determined young woman was.

For anyone interested, here’s how Pyr describes the book:

Spurning her royal heritage to be raised by the great warrior, Kessligh, her exquisite swordplay astonishes all who witness it. But Sasha is still young, untested in battle and often led by her rash temper. In the complex world of Lenayin loyalties, her defiant wilfulness is attracting the wrong kind of attention.

Lenayin is a land almost divided by its two faiths: the Verenthane of the ruling classes and the pagan Goeren-yai, amongst whom Sasha now lives. The Goeren-yai worship swordplay and honour and begin to see Sasha as the great spirit—the Synnich—who will unite them. But Sasha is still searching for what she believes and must choose her side carefully.

When the Udalyn people—the symbol of Goeren-yai pride and courage—are attacked, Sasha will face her moment of testing. How will she act? Is she ready to lead? Can she be the saviour they need her to be?

Look for Sasha this October from Pyr.


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