Review: The Steamborn Trilogy by Eric R. Asher

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All 3 of them have really well designed covers.

I bet you can’t guess which genre these are. I bet you caaaaan’t! ;D

So, I’ve listened to another audiobook trilogy by this author, which was Urban Fantasy and rather enjoyable if I remember it right, so when this trilogy came across my AudiobookBoom email, I jumped at it. Because this one sounded even more interesting. And let’s be honest… I can’t resist a well written steampunk story. I’m starting to realize that steampunk is sort of my jam… okay, maybe I’m more than starting to realize this. 🙂

So, I was given a free copy of this audiobook (which was all 3 books of the trilogy) in exchange for my honest review.

STEAMBORN (Book 1)
Jacob, a tinker’s apprentice, has never backed down from an adventure, but when a swarm of Deadlands creatures shatters the peace of Ancora, he’ll face trials the likes of which he has never imagined. Forced out of the Lowlands, Jacob and his friends seek shelter behind the towering walls of the Highlands, only to uncover a terrible darkness at the heart of their city.

STEAMFORGED (Book 2)
There are old wounds in the forgotten places of the world, and some are soaked in blood.

Jacob and his allies flee into the Deadlands after the fall of Ancora. Charles, the enigmatic smith, hopes to find answers in the desert city of Bollwerk that could prevent a war.

Their enemies are many, and here Jacob will learn the cost of life in the Deadlands.

STEAMSWORN (Book 3)
The world dies in war only to be reborn. It is the way of things, and always will be.

Forged in the Deadlands crucible, and armed with the knowledge of their true enemy, Jacob, Alice, and their allies bring the fight back to Ancora. The wounds cut deep in their darkest hour, but in the end, vengeance will light their path.

A deaf silence followed the boom.

All that was left of the Red Death was a smear of yellow blood and chunks of its black carapace.

“What the hell did you shoot that with?” one of the knights asked.

“Science.”

I’m going to keep this as spoiler free as I can, because this review does cover the entire trilogy and I don’t want to ruin the end for you before you even start. This trilogy was a wonderful ‘getting work done’ audiobook for me. I can procrastinate pretty hard, and often have trouble with focusing on one thing. Having an audiobook going while I work makes it easier for me to concentrate on what I’m doing. This one really helped. At about 25 hours long, give or take, that was a good stint of getting shit done. And, for an entire trilogy of books, that ain’t a bad use of a credit!

This series is about a tinker’s apprentice named Jacob, his best friend Alice, his mentor Charles and their friend the spider-knight Samuel (and a few others as the series progresses). It takes place in what sounded to me like a far-flung future of Earth after some disaster or other has sent us back a couple centuries in terms of technology. There’s also the giant, giant goddamn insects. They are kept out of the city of Ancora, where Jacob and company live, by giant walls and spider knights (soldiers that ride on giant, tame spiders. Yeah.).

I didn’t realize on getting this series that it was YA, but it definitely is, at least, at first. Not a problem for me, especially in audiobooks (I mean hell, I spend a not-small amount of my time listening to audiobooks meant for 8 year olds, lol), but just FYI for anyone showing interest here that may not be up for YA books – these are that very thing. Still very much enjoyable by adults and younger audiences alike, but without the copious swearing, sex, and crassness that I’ve become used to as of recently, lol. I found that this series matured as it went on as the main characters matured and things happened that would change them, or make them less innocent youths.

The narrator, Saskia Maarleveld, was fantastic. She made each character unique and told this story really well. I’m not always expecting a female narrator to convince me on male characters, but she did indeed convince me, especially with Charles’ character. Her normal reading voice is really pleasant to listen to as well, so that was nice. It made this whole trilogy a fantastic listen.

Now, a little review of each book (as spoiler free as I can):

So, in book one, Steamborn, we meet all our characters and are introduced to the world. The city of Ancora is split into two distinct classes, the highlanders (rich people) and the lowlanders (poor people). When the walls surrounding the lowlands is breached by the aforementioned giant insects, the lowlanders flee into the highlands, causing all kinds of strife. Jacob and Alice (and co.) discover a bit of a scheme going on in the city, and end up having to flee into the deadlands (where all the giant, horrible insects live). Hijinks (possibly including insects of the giant persuasion) ensue!

In book two, Steamforged, things are definitely starting to come to a head. This volume of the series seemed much more adult than young adult. I really enjoyed it. Jacob, Alice, Charles and Samuel have traveled across the Deadlands to the city of Bollwerk, where some considerable stuff is going down. This volume was more action packed, still full of the giant insects that the first volume introduced, has some interesting sort of espionage into enemy territory, and is definitely setting up something bonkers for book 3. I liked this one even better than the first. Really great story building here.

Book three, Steamsworn, was a fantastic conclusion to this trilogy. My god, this book got me in the feels pretty hard once or twice and I was absolutely not expecting that to happen. Unexpected and legitimately feel-inducing things happen in this one on the regular. This was absolutely my favorite of the series, and I think that listening to the audiobook made this even more immersive for me, because Saskia Maarleveld absolutely nailed this one. Nailed it.

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Astoundingly Awesome!

All told, I’d give the trilogy a solid 4/5 stars. Very well done!

You can see the series on goodreads here, and grab a print copy of the boxset here or audiobook here.

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