Blood and Iron
Wow. I loved this book.
Bear has created a complicated and compelling world and tale in Blood and Iron. It builds on many well-known tales, particularly using Tam Lin, the Celtic faeries and the Arthurian legends, but with her own, personal and I think brilliant spin.
The writing is beautiful; evocative, complex, metaphorical and lyrical. She paints pictures with words that touch the emotions and drag the reader in.
There are layers upon layers here and I'm sure I didn't get all of them on this first reading. That's all right though, as I'm sure I'll be reading it again.
This is not a simple tale and there are places I'm sure I missed all the nuances. It's epic and passionate and tragic all at once and the reader is drawn in to care about the characters even when they are struggling to feel and care themselves.
There is no clear cut right and wrong, not obvious heroes and villians - one of Bear's themes seems to be that we are what we are and must take responsibility for what we do, whatever our motivations and reasons. I don't know if the "good guys" won, heck I'm not even sure if anyone "won" but the end of the book, but that too is part of the complexity and depth of the tale.
There is no simple story and happy ending, indeed it has a feeling of high tragedy about it at times and that is what makes this such a great book. No easy roads are taken, not by the author or her characters and as a result, not by the reader either. It's a journey well worth the taking.
I finished this just before going to sleep last night and, as I rather expected, the fae invaded my dreams. This book and its characters dig their hooks deep and don't easily let go.
Go. Buy. Read. Recommend.