The Tempered Steel of Antiquity Grey is expected to be released in September 2021. I received this ARC copy early by supporting Shawn’s Kickstarter and I will leave a link and the end of this post for new readers to check it out. The Tempered Steel of Antiquity Grey is a non-stop ride for a fairly short book of just over 300 pages. The story takes place on a futuristic Earth or “Erth” as it is referred to in the book, where humans have colonized space. This is a softer Sci-fi story as if you were watching a Star Wars movie or reading Dune because Shawn doesn’t throw the kitchen sink at you with complex technology. Shawn also incorporates some fantasy elements into this story and it works very well with the overall plot and story until the finale. I am very excited to share my review with new readers and I hope you will be on the lookout for this in the coming months.
Shawn Speakman describes himself in his own words as “a writer, webmaster, and purveyor of dreams and lies.” He is the author of several fantasy novels including Dark Thorn and The Song of the Fell Hammer as well as the editor of the best selling fantasy anthology Unfettered. To top it all off, he is the owner of the SF&F bookstore The Signed Page and the SF&F specialty press Grim Oak Press. Shawn also befriended New York Times best-selling fantasy author Terry Brooks and became his webmaster, leading to an enchanted life surrounded by words. So, I was very excited to back this popular project and to dive into Shawn Speakmans worlds for the first time. If you are a fan of Star Wars, Dune, The Expanse, and Pacific Rim you will have a smashing good time with this book and I believe there is enough in this first story that will appeal to every SFF reader who likes adult fiction.
As I mentioned before, this story takes place on a futuristic Earth in the city of Solomon Fyre. The history of the planet revolves around humans needing to colonize space due to the growing fears of global warming and the depletion of Earth’s resources. Some of the humans left Earth for space and over the centuries their appearances have become somewhat distorted and they have a hard time existing in gravity planets. These humans became known as the Imperium and they will return to Earth once again. The other half of the population was left behind and everyone excepted them to die from the depleted resources and warming of the planet, but they survived and adapted to the harsh enviroments of the Earth.
We follow the story of Antiquity Grey as she traverses the desert looking for treasures with her bot CHKR-11. Think of CHKR-11 as a flying metal ball with the intelligence of C3PO. Eventually Antiquity discovers a giant metal hand in the desert and decides to dig it out. She discovers that the hand is attached to a huge mechanical suit, similar to the movie Pacific Rim, with the symbol of her family crest on the chest of the suit. From here the story moves into hyper drive with non stop action and tension as the Imperium has discovered existence of this suit and will do what ever it takes to confiscated it for its rare metal, titanium. Antiquity’s family possesses the surname Grey not as a name passed down through the generations, but as a punishment for the sins of their past. The Grey’s once sat with the counselors of power until the actions of Antiquity’s ancestors turned them into outcasts with the shame of dishonor to Solomon Fyre. Learning about Grey’s past was one of my favorite parts of the novel.
The one small part that I didn’t like about the novel is that there are several slow chapters in this books that felt too drawn out for me. It felt like the dialogue went on a bit too long but this can just be a me problem as I wanted to get back to the action! You learn a lot about how the races changes over the centuries and how the cultures have saved and recorded their histories. There is so much to discover in this world and even though this book won’t be released to the SFF community for several months, I am eagerly anticipating the sequel as well as diving into Shawn’s other works soon.
Well done Shawn, it is well worth wait!