Steel Crow Saga

Del Rey: Ballantine. Sept. 2019. 528p. ISBN 9780593128220. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780593128237. FANTASY
The Tomodanese Empire has been defeated: the House of Shang and the new Republic of Sanbu both expect the Iron Prince to be crowned and negotiating a peace treaty for his conquered kingdom. Iron Prince Jimuro must use his metalpacting—steel magic—and his jailor Tala to get back home. Sanbu soldier Tala lost her family to the Tomodanese army; however, her oath to her general and her unique, and taboo, shadepacting magic require her to deliver him safely. Meanwhile, expert tracker and criminal Lee is given an offer she can’t refuse: help her savior detective find the Iron Prince, and she can have an animal shade as reward, as Shang Princess–turned–detective Xiulan is determined to find Jimuro and secure her place in line for the throne. As each of the four discover friendship and love on their journeys, a force beyond all their reckoning leaves a trail of death and destruction in its wake, with their paths coming together in a final clash of magic and personal choices.
VERDICT Krueger’s sophomore novel (after Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge) is a heady look at postcolonial emotions, Asian cultures, and anime influences. His main characters are by turns endearing and maddening, living in a well-built magical world of warring factions. [See Prepub Alert, 4/1/19.]

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