Review: The Blacksmith Queen (The Scarred Earth Saga #1) by G.A. Aiken

The Old King Is Dead

With the demise of the Old King, there’s a prophesy that a queen will ascend to the throne of the Black Hills. Bad news for the king’s sons, who are prepared to defend their birthright against all comers. But for blacksmith Keeley Smythe, war is great for business. Until it looks like the chosen queen will be Beatrix, her younger sister. Now it’s all Keeley can do to protect her family from the enraged royals. 
Luckily, Keeley doesn’t have to fight alone. Because thundering to her aid comes a clan of kilt-wearing mountain warriors called the Amichai. Not the most socially adept group, but soldiers have never bothered Keeley, and rough, gruff Caid, actually seems to respect her. A good thing because the fierce warrior will be by her side for a much longer ride than any prophesy ever envisioned …


What is The Blacksmith Queen about?

This book is ostensibly about the political conflict that leads to two sisters vying for the same throne–one also being fought over by the old king’s sons. But at its heart, this book is about a family that will do anything for one another, and the danger in underestimating love as an opponent. The primary antagonist of the book appears to have trouble comprehending deep familial love, and though they calculate it into their plans they still underestimate just what they’re going to be facing in the rest of the saga.

Genre: Fantasy

This book sits somewhere in the High Fantasy genre, what with the political intrigue and the very genre-appropriate opening. However, despite the presence of familiar genre races such as dwarves and elves, this book also includes some unusual characters and tropes. Definitely a fresher take on the High Fantasy genre than I was expecting going in!

Tropes: A Reluctant Royal

The arguably main character of this story is, of course, a reluctant royal. Keely just wants to support her family and pursue her dreams, but those dreams come crashing down thanks to the destiny laid out for her and her family after the old King dies.

Plot: Sibling Rivalries Cause All The Problems

Ah, good old sibling rivalries. Whether it’s the brothers using their massive armies to try and exterminate each other or Keely and her sisters causing drama all across the land, siblings in this story are pivotal to driving the plot.

The Good

This book is funny. Laugh out loud funny. There are surprising quips, inverted tropes, and jokes littered throughout its pages. Stoic characters even crack up sometimes when faced ith a funny enough situation. The characters poke fun at the world they live in, and at each other. Additionally, this book has surprisingly strong relationships, even ones born out of hatred. The relationships are believable, and shown more than told. For the most part, characters behave exactly as their personalities would lead them to, even when forced into unusual circumstances. Overall, I think the writer had an excellent and firm grasp on her characters and how they would interact with her world going in.

The Okay

After beginning the book, I looked up the author to discover she has also published fantasy-erotica genre books. You can tell in this one as well. Though there’s not a lot of explicit sex or sexual references, there are the occasional trope from that genre which feel a little out of place but are otherwise unoffensive.

The Bad

I would say the only bad thing in this book is I don’t think the primary antagonist is unlikeable enough. Maybe there’s supposed to be a redemption arc in the future, but the character’s motives and personality and actions all combine into a seemingly irredeemable character that I still want to root for. Family is the core of the story, but as someone who does not share the opinion of the main character that you should always drop everything for family…. I can’t root against a character who also doesn’t share that opinion. Sure, the antagonist does a lot of other terrible things, but the story very much wants you to believe they’re in the wrong because they are willing to leave behind their family.

Final Thoughts

This is a refreshing High Fantasy story, and I am absolutely invested in continuing the series. The characters are funny and well written, the author clearly has a grasp on her world and where the story is going, and altogether the inversion of so many fantasy tropes create a more interesting and fun to read world. My problems with rooting against the antagonist aside, I think this book excellently sets up a world, characters, and story that I want to continue reading!

By Catherine

I'm a lover of books, coffee, wine, and bees. Happy to join the ranks of book bloggers everywhere!

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