Tracato is another strong volume in Joel Shepherd’s Trial of Blood and Steel series. After the events of Petrodor, Sasha and her companions Kessleigh and Errolyn flee to Tracato, a major city in the serrin-held territories of the Bacosh. Tracacto is a hot-bed of intrigue, divided as it is by tensions between the serrin, the city’s elected Council and its supporters, and the long-displaced feudalists, all wound tighter by the impending invasion of their lands by the Verenthane faithful, amongst whom are members of Sasha’s family.
Tracato starts out slowly, mired down with setup, backstory and world-building concerns. It’s definitely worth persisting past the half-way mark though, where it really takes off (this has been a pattern throughout the series, by the way). Dominated by the themes of clashing religious, philosophical, and political views, Tracato is really strongest in its exploration of the inter-personal and familial conflicts. And Sasha is particularly strong because she has grown so much and become a greater, and far more sympathetic, heroine for it. Shepherd’s battle scenes in Tracato are of particular note as well. I look forward to the fourth and final volume, coming soon.