The Sin in the Steel by Ryan Van Loan – Review

Cover- The Sin in the Steel

Published: July 21, 2020

Publisher: Tor Books

Series: The Fall of the Gods #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 432 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


A sparkling debut fantasy set in a diverse world, featuring dead gods, a pirate queen, shapeshifting mages, and a Sherlockian teenager determined to upend her society.

Heroes for hire. If you can pay.

Brilliant street-rat
Her mind leaps from clues to conclusions in the blink of an eye.

Buc’s partner-in-crime.

No. Not in crime–in crime-solving.
They’ve been hired for their biggest job yet–one that will set them up for a life of ease.
If they survive.
Buc and Eld are the first private detectives in a world where pirates roam the seas, mages speak to each other across oceans, mechanical devices change the tide of battle, and earthly wealth is concentrated in the hands of a powerful few.
It’s been weeks since ships last returned to the magnificent city of Servenza with bounty from the Shattered Coast. Disaster threatens not just the city’s trading companies but the empire itself. When Buc and Eld are hired to investigate, Buc swiftly discovers that the trade routes have become the domain of a sharp-eyed pirate queen who sinks all who defy her.
Now all Buc and Eld have to do is sink the Widowmaker’s ship….
Unfortunately for Buc, the gods have other plans.
Unfortunately for the gods, so does Buc.

SWASHBUCKLING FANTASY IS  MY NEW FAVORITE TREND. I always need more high seas, high stakes action in my life. It’s so coooool, especially when the most dangerous of them all are lady pirates!

So clearly there’s the pirate element, but The Sin in the Steel also has one of my other favorite tropes – a Holmes and Watson-esque duo. It’s quite well done and doesn’t rip too much directly from Sherlock Holmes. Buc and Eld (the duo) are mostly a delight to read about. Buc (short for Sambucina) has a brilliant memory and pulls her knowledge from the hundreds of books she’s read. Formerly a street rat, she’s moved up in the world and has lofty goals to achieve. Eld is a former soldier (much like beloved Martin Freeman’s Watson) and he carries some baggage from his time in war. He’s the muscle in the group, though Buc is a fair hand with a slingshot and knives. He’s also the more level-headed if the two. In short, I adored them. 

Buc and Eld are introduced while in peril. They stand accused of murder and this world’s version of the East India Trading Company seems to be after their heads. That is, until they ultimately recruit them to find and stop who has been destroying their ships full of sugar. A handsome price is negotiated and thus begins our high seas adventure. Because who sinks ships? Why pirates of course!!!

This seems to be a fairly stereotypical 19th century world, aside from the addition of magic and the tension between the followers of two deities. The magic is interesting- some necromancy, some telepathic type magic, and a seeming inability to be permanently killed if you’re a mage. I get strong explorer vibes and it makes me want to grab my Indiana Jones gear and go exploring caverns, untamed jungles, possibly get chased by cannibals. Also, if you thought Pirates of the Caribbean was an awesome movie, you’ll love this book!

I had a great time reading this and eagerly await the next installment. I’ve done myself no favors because this isn’t out until July and I’ll probably have to wait until July 2021 for the sequel.

3 thoughts on “The Sin in the Steel by Ryan Van Loan – Review

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