Iron Axe

Steven Harper. Roc, $7.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-0-451-46846-8

Harper (The Clockwork Empire) begins the Books of Blood and Iron series with an exciting and somewhat unusual quest. Danr, half human and half troll, is a thrall, mired in servitude and misery. His only friend is Aisa, a human slave who still feels the potent draw of her elven former master. When an earl’s son threatens Aisa, Danr defends her and nearly kills the man, and the two friends are banished from human realms. They seek out the trolls and are given two quests: one by the troll queen, and one by Death itself. Turning common tropes on their heads, Harper portrays orcs as valiant warriors and elves as despicable slavers. His reinterpretations of trolls, giants, and fae folk give this series opener a fresh feeling, while his nods to Norse mythology and folklore root it strongly in fantasy tradition. Readers will be eager to see what’s in store for Aisa and Danr. Agent: Lucienne Diver, Knight Agency. (Jan.)
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