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Summary

To weather the coming storm, you cannot stand alone....

Jarl Beckström has done the impossible. He has changed his class, leveled up, and joined the most elite warband in Norvaask. But in the aftermath of the battle with the draugr, chaos reigns. The Clan Lord has been usurped by his own brother, and the clanhold's armies have been all but devastated.

Leadership is needed now more than ever.

A change in fortune places Jarl in a position of power, and he struggles beneath the weight of his newfound responsibly. Freya, on the other hand, now finds herself enslaved to the Spear Maiden, the infamous war leader from Jotungard, and wrestles with the fact that she may never be a fireborn again.

Meanwhile, darkness continues to spread. The legions of the undead are growing, and if left unchecked, they will consume the whole of Njordrassil like a plague.

Blood feuds must be ended. Alliances must be forged. The people must fight together or die alone. But can a mud farmer-turned-battleborn unite them?

Only time will tell.

Experience the sequel to the epic GameLit/LitRPG adventure: Ice & Blood. It's perfect for fans of Unsouled, Iron Prince, and Sufficiently Advanced Magic 

©2021 Blake Arthur Peel (P)2021 Tantor

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  • Jas P
  • 03-10-21

Epic LitRPG Fantasy NOT TO BE MISSED – OUTSTANDING

Honor & Iron picks up almost immediately after the end of book #1, after the intense battle with the Draugr and clan Norvaask, that saw Freya captured by the Spear Maiden. At the start of this book we see the follow-up to the power struggle that was brewing in book #1, with Sten Haig taking control of the Clan from his brother in rather brutal fashion (I’ll let you read how).
However, this does not sit well with a lot of the Battleborn of the Norvaask clan, and Halvard, Asger, and the others in this Warband, along with Jarl (we see this mainly from Jarl’s point of view), decide that Sten is not fit to lead the Clan as he is without honor, and is therefore not a worthy Clan Lord.
The start of this book is intense, with some amazing battle sequences as the Battleborn try and bring control of the leadership of the Norvaask Clan under control. It is fascinating though, as a lot of it is seen from Jarl’s perspective, and given that he has previously been a low born, he is not only interested in the combat aspects and the succession, but he also cares about the outcomes and the survival of the low born, something that the other Battleborn do not take into consideration all that much. This story is set with a strong caste system, with the Battleborn and Fireborn at the top, then the workers (or low born), followed by the servants (or thralls), who do not have any rights, and are not protected by any laws. Anyone can do anything to a thrall, as long as they don’t die from it (and even then, no one really cares all that much).
As Norvaask struggles with who is going to lead them, far away, Freya Beckstrom, former Fireborn of the Norvaask Clan is now one of the thrall, having had her ears clipped, and living amongst the Jotungard as a slave. Initially, she is defiant, but her fiery will does not last long, and Peel does an incredible job of creating this character that was once a powerful, arrogant and exceedingly confident figure, but after several weeks as a thrall, and having had a tough lesson at the hands of the Spear Maiden, is now not only learning what it is to be lower than a low born, but is gaining some valuable experience in what humility is. Freya gets to truly understand what it is to be a slave, to be hungry, thirsty, exhausted, etc, and her point of view on the thrall, on people and the caste system in general, changes drastically as her journey plays out in this story. Those she once treated with such disgust and disdain, are now her equals, and she is one of them. It is a remarkable journey, but one in which she makes a stunning discovery which will change her life forever.
The other major character in this book is the Spear Maiden of the Jotungard Clan, Ingrid Olsen, whose father is Clan Lord, but is gravely ill, and because she is a woman, she will not be able to inherit the title of Clan Lord as a man would due to Clan custom. I don’t want to give anything away, because her part in this book is just outstanding, we get to see a range of different aspects of the Spear Maiden, her exceptional fighting skills, (in fact we get to see these on a couple of occasions, and the descriptions of these combat scenes are just spectacular!!), as well as herself, the softer, caring side, in which she actually really cares for her people. Ingrid Olsen is someone that respects the lower class for who they are, without them, the Clan can’t survive, there would be no food or water, to her, they are people. This of course does not sit well with the other High Born or Battleborn.
The character portrayal in this book is just masterful, it is so real, so gritty and intense. Peel has gone to great lengths to portray his characters from a range of different aspects, from the Clan Lords of different Clans, the Battleborn and Fireborn, to the workers and their families, and of course, the slaves and thralls that serve them. Each is described with such incredible detail, really bringing these characters and each of their individual stories to life, so that at times, you feel like you are sitting across from them, listening to them tell their tales.
The LITRPG aspect of the story only enhances the character development, and the depth of their personalities, and provides a very realistic edge to each of the characters. Jarl, Freya and Ingrid are all highly intelligent individuals, with very clever and comprehensive dialogue that really engages the reader and brings the story to life in a very genuine way so that it is incredibly life-like.
This is a story that also has a lot of intrigue, and political power play, as different characters each try and out manoeuvre the other for positions of leadership and power within the Clans. This is not only true for their own Clans, but for power across other Clans as well, meaning that those in power are having to think like a game of chess, looking for attacks from those not only within, but also without. Added to this is the threat of the Draugr, making for a story that is full of not only multiple battles, but fascinating and interesting political interplay within multiple Clans.
Peel has created a unique and stunning world, one that is both beautiful and harsh, with a creative caste system and 9 different Clans, all fighting for power, none realising that the greatest danger comes from without.
At the centre of all of this, is a young man, who through the simple act of trying to change his caste, is becoming a something of legend, although doing it through unorthodox ways. This is one of those stories that once you start, you find yourself transfixed by the masterful writing, and the portrayal of not just Jarl, but his sister Freya, and in this second book, the story of the Spear Maiden. Peels Characters are just extraordinary, and not to be missed. If you love EPIC Fantasy, LitRPG, Brilliant Character Writing, or just an Exceptional Story – Read This Series!!!
Neil Hellegers is outstanding as the Narrator of this book, and this series. He has a clear and concise voice that is just so easy to listen to, making this a wonderful audiobook to listen to. Hellegers has a fantastic range of both Male and Female voices, with very clear and distinct characters, so that you know who is talking. This allows you to identify when a Male or Female character is talking without being told, just by his voice he does them so well. He does a wonderful range of not just the voices, but different accents, and also the emotional range as well, really bringing his characters to life. Given the kind of Viking/Nordic feel to the characters, his accents were just brilliant (his Spear Maiden is outstanding), and his ability to really bring his characters to life with their emotions is amazing. You could really feel the pain, angst, anger, fear, and a range of other emotions that Freya went through in this book, he did it so well. And this was done with all the characters. This includes with the incredible battle scenes.
Hellegers is brilliant as the Narrator, making this a must listen to book, I actually waited for this to come out on Audiobook, as his Narration was so good, I had to listen to it again on book 2 – and I will again for book 3 – Thank you for an amazing job!!

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  • Sailfish
  • 28-09-21

Enjoyed Book 2 More

There's something about a Nordic-type adventure that I find appealing if it's written well and Blake Arthur Peel continues to do just that. Here we find our happenstance-hero, Jarl Beckström, venturing off to his clan's enemy encampment in what seems like a foolhardy attempt to form an alliance to help ward off the undead hordes. Unbeknownst to him, his thought dead, haughty sister, Freya, finds herself captured and enslaved by that very clan.

What follows is an ever-interesting set of mini-adventures and encounters that will test all the significant players loyalty, bravery, temperance and endurance. As the cover implies, there's a new significant character introduced, Spear Maiden, who proves the equal of other warrior leaders in her clan.

Freya's story-arc, in several ways, is more intriguing than that of of Jarl, considering the depths of her societal status fall and her struggle to escape her horrific fate.

Neil Hellegers' performance, again, makes it a joy to listen to.

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  • Chris Young
  • 30-09-21

Fantastic sequel!

I absolutely loved the first book, and I can confidently say the second book was just as incredible. Wonderful characters, gripping plot, interesting use of stats, loved it. I highly recommend.

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  • Wesley
  • 28-09-21

Whatever woman inspired Freya, author hates them

So, short version. Book is pretty good. I'm puzzled by the point of having the "game mechanics" component to the story at all, as there is nothing in the context of the story that brings it up in any way. The main character isn't a person from our world, transported there. It's not a VR game they are experiencing. It's just....an apparently real world that...has stat sheets, and levels...and everyone knows this, and it's normal....despite no explanation to the reader as to why. So, a bit puzzling there, but not a real deal breaker.

The writing is serviceable, if a bit predictable. There's nothing here as far as the plot that I'm finding very new and surprising. Quite the opposite, I was able to see plot turns well ahead of when they were revealed, due to the style of writing. Which, while not great, isn't a bad thing to me. We've all heard a million stories of the same type all our lives, it's such a common thing there is a quaint little saying for it about "all the stories in the world have already been told." So, yeah, the fact that I'm seeing very obvious parallels to other stories isn't inherently a bad thing. However the way it's structured, does seem to lack a lot of creativity. Several times in the series, I've thought to myself "wow, he's totally ripping this from that movie/tv show/book." Still, it's an engaging story for the most part, I find it enjoyable to have on when I'm at work, doing stuff. Not fantastic, but far from terrible. Enjoyable fair to fill time.

Now, the part that I DON'T like. Whoooboy. Freya. I...I don't know what woman in his life inspired Freya but, holy crap does the author REALLY hate them. The amount of time spent making her a vile, hated person, and then spent on punishing her in the most degrading ways, got very uncomfortable for me to listen to. I could see, WAY ahead of time, what was going to happen with her, regarding some of the forms of abuse she endures, and sadly, the author did not surprise me by doing something else. He went right down the most unpleasant, uncomfortable, invasive type of "hardships" for Freya to endure, for the sake of breaking her. And, yeah it just wasn't enjoyable to listen to. I was hoping for it to just move on to her resolving that particular plot element, and move on to her next stage of the story, to avoid having to listen to it any more.

Still, despite that one really glaring bit of uncomfortable writing, it's solidly written, and enjoyable. The narrator is fantastic as always. I fell in love with Neil Hellegers from the Good Guys and Bad Guys book series' by Eric Ugland, and he's just as good here. Solid work, excellent voice control, clear understanding of who is speaking based on vocal tone, even when swapping between genders. Another solid mark for him as an audiobook narrator. If you like this narrator, and like the LitRPG genre (which you probably already do if you're listening to this book), check out his work with Eric Ugland. Highly recommended.

Final thoughts. Well, you can see my stars. It's not great, but it's not horrible. It's not going to be a series that I listen to multiple times, but I've enjoyed the time I have spent listening to the series so far.