Review: Hammer and Powder (Seven Brothers book 1) by Megan Derr

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The Kingdom of Rinaha is all that stands between the violent, greedy Boorna and the rest of the continent, and they do so by way of their immense and heavily guarded Wall of Gamala, an enormous undertaking that runs the length of the southern end of the continent, standing strong for more than two hundred years.

Maintaining the Wall and the forces that guard it is an expensive undertaking, one that other countries are reluctant to contribute significantly to, despite the fact they benefit greatly from its existence. In an effort to change that, the king of Rinaha arranges a marriage between the powerful Takahara family and a royal relation of the neighboring kingdom of Aaran.

Hideki, better known as Warhammer, is playing escort for his brother Saburo, the chosen candidate being sent off to marry the nephew of the king of Aaran and bridge political divides once and for all. Shortly after arrival, though, Saburo runs away, with only a letter of apology left to explain what he’s done. Now it is Hideki, ill-suited to political games, who must keep anger and wounded pride from erupting into war.

Meanwhile, back on the Wall, his twin brother Daisuke discovers the enemy is using children to do what their soldiers cannot, and in rescuing them, finds himself in exactly the sort of situation he prefers to avoid. On top of that, his brother Jiro, General of the Wall, expects him to entertain foreign guests, despite the fact everyone knows not to trust delicate situations to the man known as Gunpowder.

Review:

Dear Megan Derr,

I had been a fan of your work for quite a few years now, however this story was for me the most enjoyable book of yours in quite some time. It is mostly me, I prefer your longer works and I just don’t care for vampires (much) or zombies (at all).

The blurb of this book promised a new pseudo historical world, political intrigues, and romance. Of course I am going to guess that since it says Seven Brothers (Book 1) in the title and at the end of this book we have an announcement for the second one, this the beginning of the series and we will be treated to four or five more books. Both twin brothers mentioned in the blurb kind of share the spotlight in this story and get their happy endings, so that’s why I said four or five more books. I am not sure whether four or five books are coming because of a certain event, not mentioned in the blurb, happening here however I am not certain that the event mentioned actually happened with the “described in the book” result. Sorry, I have to be vague because of spoilers 🙂

The kingdom of Rinaha seems to be loosely based on ancient Japan – the names, the foods, and some other signs clearly point that way, however Megan Derr does not seem to write an actual historical. Her wonderful invented worlds are usually pseudo historical or historical fantasy, with a much more just social order than what the countries she seems to be inspired with had in the past. I am not complaining at all! I am however far from being a new reader of this author and I know that I go into a new book expecting a historical and then getting something else, I could be very annoyed, so I’m trying to prevent potential readers from feeling that way.

Oh, there are also some scientific achievements (one comes to mind especially) that makes me wonder in what century the author wanted to place this story.

We are thrown in a world where war is taking place and one of the most powerful families in Rihana, with its seven sons, seems to be right in the middle of it. As the blurb tells you, one of the brothers, Saburo, is chosen to marry a nephew of the King of the neighboring kingdom. The kingdoms are not enemies, but the marriage is meant to strengthen the alliance.

Saburo wants one of his brothers Hideki to go with him as an escort. Honestly, I was confused why Hideki politely did not tell Saburo to go by himself with the other people who work for the family, because Hideki and his twin Daisuke and their other brother Jiro are actually right in the middle of a horrible war with the kingdom of Boorna and as much as Saburo’s incoming marriage was important, it seemed that Hideki actually being on the Wall and defending it was more important undertaking.

Hideki, being the kind soul and honorable soldier he is, agrees to go and events spun out of control soon after their arrival. Saburo runs away and Hideki is left to pick the pieces and maybe strike a friendship with Saburo’s betrothed.

I really liked Hideki. If I was forced to choose a romantic hero really close to my heart he and Daisuke would come pretty darn close. They are both extremely competent in the business of war, but they do not seem to lose themselves amongst the horror and violence of it and their dreams for the war’s end are very, very peaceful and something they both good at at.

I wrote that twins share the spotlight in this book. They always had been very close and fought alongside each other, but because Hideki went with Saburo in the beginning of the book, they spent some time apart and found their beloved along the way. I actually think Megan Derr found almost a perfect balance between adventure and romance in this book. Yes, romance is front and center, but there are chapters where the adventure moves really fast and it was quite exciting.

Highly recommended.

Grade: B+

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