“Trust each other,” Victory said. “You and Kane will be better partners than even Asaron and I ever were. And that’s saying a lot.”

Steel Magic (Steel Empires #2)

By J.L. Gribble
188 Pages


Newly graduated warrior-mages Toria Connor and Kane Nalamas find themselves the last remaining mages in the city when a mage school teacher mysteriously falls ill and dies. But taking over the school themselves isn’t in the cards. They’re set to become professional mercenaries-if they make it through the next 18 months as journeymen first.


Steel Magic picks up two years after the first book, Steel Victory ends, and throws us further into author J.L. Gribble’s world of magic, mercenaries, and mysteries. Where vampires were at the forefront of the previous work, Steel Magic has mages as its focus, albeit ones raised by vampires.

Toria and Kane, who played smaller roles previously, take the main character mantles as both magical graduates and mercenary journeyman. Their first contract takes them out of Limani, the setting of the previous books, and flings them into an expanded world where things are jarringly different but also strangely the same.

The ability to leave Limani behind allows the book to explore its magic more in-depth, and provides a greater look at the politics of this world that is both similar to real life and completely alien. I’m always a fan of world building, and am fascinated by the ways in which authors make magic and supernatural elements fit within their invented locations, so this book satisfied that itch rather well. The characters themselves, both old and new, are well fleshed and feel authentic in their thoughts and interactions. These are young adults exploring things new to them, but with the knowledge that those who raised them have already seen it all. It’s an interesting dynamic. What would your life be like if your parents were hundreds of years old?

Should You Read This?

If you enjoyed the first title in the series, I would definitely recommend this one. I liked it even more than the first outing. The characters were fun and engaging, the story moved quickly and remained on task, and it ended with new and intriguing possibilities for the future. There is still much to be told of this world and its heroes, and I’m curious to see where we travel next.

Though I could totally use a map!
Summary from Goodreads, I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.