Review: The Ballad of Alchemy and Steel

  • Title:
    • The Ballad of Alchemy and Steel: A Novella Companion to The Relics of War
  • Author:
    • A.J. Calvin
  • Release:
    • April 30, 2022
  • Format:
    • eBook
  • Series:
    • The Relics of War #0.5 – 2.5~

This is a sort of prequel / between-the-books chapter for the Relics of War series. While you can read it as a standalone introduction to the series, I’d personally suggest you at least read book 1 first, to familiarize yourself with the races, the events they refer to, and so on. It really depends on what you’re looking for, I guess. If you just want a super sweet romance, then you can skip the main series.

I enjoyed this for several reasons. The first is what a sweet romance it is, it’s already one of my favorite romance stories I’ve ever read…. partially because it closely resembles my own relationship in several ways. I found several of the moments to be touching and sweet, and from personal experience, realistic and accurate. Whoops, I’ve gone and fallen in love with my best friend. Will he feel the same way? Will this make our friendship awkward? Why is he smiling at me like that? and so on. ahahahhaha

The second reason I enjoyed it, is just out of respect for what indie authors do. Indie authors seem to be the only people who create amazing worlds and then DON’T center them around the least interesting person in them. I hate that shit with a fiery passion. “Trad”-pub authors all release these cookie-cutter stories that I’ve honestly grown tired of. As well as waiting decades between stories. So I have a ton of respect for any authors who give us these wonderful short stories that flesh out their worlds and lore and hold us over until the next book or series.

And the final reason I enjoyed this, as I mentioned above, is the lore. It really helps to flesh out the Murkor people and their culture. In the main series (minor spoiler), they’re both unwilling antagonists and victims and this story does a fantastic job of fleshing out their culture, humanizing them, and giving much-needed history that would feel out of place in the main series.

I knew these two cared about each other from the novels, I had snippets of their culture as well, but now they both feel much more fleshed out as people. I have a significantly better idea of their culture and customs from their own perspectives. I can’t exaggerate just how much I appreciate that world-building in this series. I wish more authors would share stories like this with their fans, as it only serves to make me, the reader, that much more invested in their world-building.

I previously made a wiki for R.J. Hanson’s Bloodlines Reforged Saga. When I read amazing fantasy series, I wish I had the time to make wikis for all of them. I’d love nothing more than to nerd out over the lore, but it’s such a monumental task. The Relics of War series is one of those series that I desperately wished had a wiki. Another issue with a lot of these series though, the lore just isn’t deep enough. There’s not enough to work with to justify dedicating an entire website to documenting it. These short stories go a long way in immersing readers into the series and making the daunting task of starting yet another fan site more appealing and viable.

As for A.J. Calvin writing this for her brother, I think that’s super wholesome and sweet. I wish we could all be so lucky to have such accepting relatives. This story put a huge smile on my face and I hope others will give it a read and share it as well.

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Reviews © Copyright 2022 Korra Baskerville