Last Week on Inked Brownies

Review: Chains of Blood and Steel (The Warrior Queen #2) by Karen Gray


Kindle Edition, 442 pages
Published April 2016 by Amazon Digital Services (first published December 1st2015)

Blurb (2)

Hours after the mental onslaught by Edward, Mòrag is still trying to piece things together. She trains daily with Colonel Tesso, in an attempt to bring her physical skills up to the standard of her mental ones.

Brax continues to struggle with visions of his master and fears his presence will put Mòrag in danger as his mental chains are pulled tighter and his grip on reality begins to loosen.

The Spymaster’s daughter struggles to deal with her abusive father, hiding a secret she is prepared to take to the grave; while John, who’s life has been a lie, discovers the truth about himself through Ava. Brought together by a chance encounter, they work together to break the chains of blood and steel that imprison them.

Blurb (1)

Don’t you love it when a sequel is actually better than the original instead of (what’s usually the case) worse? While I was complaining about the strange mixture of dystopian fantasy in my review of the first book in the series, the world building made a lot more sense to me in Chains of Blood and Steel. It might’ve been due to Karen trying to educate me on the matter, but I also honestly think that things are just way more balanced in this book. I’m even going as far as to say this could be a stand alone.

Many of the characters we’ve come to know in For King and Country are still present. Mòrag takes up a lot less of the stage and makes way for Ava, who becomes the protagonist in this story. I thought it was a nice twist to swap the roles of the main characters. Bold, because we all know what meddling with those main characters can do to some readers (there was a massive hatefest going on towards Sarah J. Maas last week due to a decision she made in her latest Throne of Glass book), yet fascinating to be able to read from a different point of view this time. The change was well executed in this book.

One thing that surprised me, though, was the transition of the Spymaster, General Marcs, from being a tough yet fair kind of guy, and a loving parent, to a horrible tyrant who abuses his daughter in every way he can. As I’ve already said before in some of my other reviews, I’m not a big fan of overdoing the violence just to make a point of the character being evil. When Marcs broke Ava’s bones, it was already way past the notion of him being a (really) bad person. I don’t mind graphic violence in general (unless there are some hideous rape scenes involved) but only if it serves a purpose. So yes, I would’ve appreciated it being toned down a notch when it came to this particular abusive father-daughter relationship.

The mythical creatures are still present, yet with a lot less emphasis on horses. I have to admit that I don’t feel any massive love towards horses but that’s mainly because I was never around any when I grew up. I rode a pony once when I was little, yet riding it would be a big overstatement since it didn’t want to move a single step when I was on it. Anyhow, I’m digressing (as usual)! For those of you who told me the first book was alright but the involvement of horses was a bit too much for you: this book is way less horse focussed, yet still has the fabulous mythical creatures in it. There was even a bear familiar in this one! An evil one at that!giphy (2).gifWhile it started off slow, once the pace picked up, I flew through this book in a matter of mere hours. I wanted to know what would happen to Ava and John. When someone would put a bloody sword through General Marcs…How the side storylines would turn out. If there would be any more martial art fights, using katanas and skilful kung-fu moves. Who would live and who would die. You know, generally, all the stuff which makes you enjoy reading in the first place!

I’m curious to see where book three picks up and if there’s a trend going on when it comes to the story getting better by the book. I’m also hoping there will be more of Rannoch, who still looks like this in my brain…
…(even though he doesn’t have any wings and should look more like a stallion/lion hybrid instead) in book three.

I’m giving this book four brownies because I enjoyed reading it and it held my attention until the end, even while I was suffering from a reading slump at the time!


A big thank you to Karen Gray for providing me with a copy of her book(s) in exchange for an honest opinion!


If this sounds like something you’d like to read as well, you’re in luck! For the next 15 days, Karen will be putting up the first three books in the series for FREE on Amazon. Each book will be available for 5 consecutive days:
For King and Country will be free from today until the 2nd of September @
Chains of Blood and Steel will be free on the 3rd September until the 7th @
Battle of the Bannockburn will be free from the 8th September until the 12th @
For more information, read Karen’s own post about this promo @

(Other) Links to the book:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
The Book Depository (Dutch Retailer)

About Anne (231 Articles)
Dutch book reviewer who reviews in English. Grammar nazis beware!! I like brownies. And chamomile tea.

35 Comments on Review: Chains of Blood and Steel (The Warrior Queen #2) by Karen Gray

  1. Oooh, Book #1 is still on my Kindle waiting to be read! Sounds very promising 🙂
    Horses… yeah.. my sister has a stable full of horses and I’ve always been afraid of them! XD

    Liked by 2 people

    • Give it a go when you can! I’m curious to see what you think of it :). Haha! They’re beautiful creatures to look at but I saw the wounds on my friend after insulting her horse (her words, not mine xD) and I guess that made me scared of them as well. I’d rather have a pony ^^. Or a Shetland pony!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yup, will have to get to that book rather sooner than later.

        Yeah, horsies can be unpredictable.. well, moody! I had to clean my sister’s house one year all summer because her leg was in cast from crotch to toes after the horse got scared of water and tried leaping over my sister. I was like a Cinderella! XD
        But ponies are cute, the tinier the cuter… they’re like little teddies!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Moody it is indeed! Like they’re always on PMS or smth xD. Oh dear…that sounds really painful :/. Is that when you met your prince, though? 😉 😉
          Yeah, cuddly ponies! I saw a documentary on tiny ponies living as a pet in someone’s house, but I don’t think that’s right. For the animal that is. Scooping up horse doodoo in your living room does give that authentic countryside experience XD.


  2. Thanks for the great review Anne 🙂 I’m so glad you liked it! This was the book that fell onto the page in roughly three months, I still think that although it isn’t my favourite (book 3 has that spot) I am the most proud of book 2 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. WoW pics and a Sailor Moon gif!❤ You really know how to sell it. A woman after my own heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’re right, there aren’t many books out there where the sequel is actually better haha you’re lucky 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I was never a big horse person growing up either! Although I just went horseback riding by the mountains a couple weeks ago and LOVED IT.
    I’m looking forward to reading these. Awesome review!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Reblogged this on thistleyroses and commented:

    A wonderful review from the amazing Anne @ Inked Brownies. Happy Karen 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. katelynnhillier // 19/10/2016 at 01:50 // Reply

    Fawning over evil bears, now? Have you evolved?!! ;D
    I still have book one waiting on my Kindle to be read, but knowing the second book is better and less horse-centered makes me incredibly excited! I don’t know what spoilers and conflict is happening around the new SJ Maas book (nor do I want to know – spoilers!) but that the protagonist doesn’t have a name like Morag in book two makes me so much happier! Morag just sounds like a stomach ache or a sound your stomach makes when it’s feeling particularly grumpy. Ava is much better and sounds like an airbender! Definitely an upgrade.
    I love that I can see all the references to WoW in your reviews and know where they come from – aaaaah, bliss! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL, damnit, I knew there was a reason I liked him! :’). Hahaha, then this might come as a shock to you, but I named my demon hunter Morag XD. Haven’t really played the expansion again though. Just draining my bank account with unused subscription fees as usual ^^.

      Liked by 1 person

      • katelynnhillier // 04/11/2016 at 21:43 // Reply

        Morag fits the Hoarde more than a horse-filled apocalyptic Scotland. ;P
        Isn’t that always the problem? I’m currently waiting for Elder Scrolls Online to download.. all 80MB.. I’ll tell you how the gameplay is next year when it finishes downloading. -.-‘

        Liked by 1 person

        • Haha! I’ve totally abandoned her though :'(. There’s never enough time to sit down and play a game anymore CRIES. Don’t you mean 80GB? XD I tried Elder Scrolls for a month or so when it just came out but while the character customisation was awesome, the rest just didn’t do it for me for reasons I can’t remember ;).

          Liked by 1 person

          • katelynnhillier // 09/11/2016 at 19:10 // Reply

            Yes.. Yes, I did mean GB. Thank you! :#
            I’m trying really hard to give it a shot, but I think I’m finding what you felt and I can’t really place it. It’s just falling short for me so far (though I’m only Level 5).

            Liked by 1 person

            • ❤ I think it was the whole running around part without knowing where the hell I was going. I need a mini-map to dumb things down for me apparently. The combat system was also giving me a brain freeze if I remember correctly. Buuuut, level 5! You still have all the time in the world to start liking it 😉

              Liked by 1 person

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