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WesternSFA


Life and Limb
by Jennifer Roberson
Daw, $26.00. 352pp
Published: November 2019

A biker and a cowboy must stop the apocalypse in the first book of the Blood and Bone modern western fantasy series.

His voice was rich, a much loved baritone, as he handed his seven-year-old grandson a gun.

“It’s time we had a talk, you and I. You won’t remember it, but you need to know it, and one day, when it’s time, I’ll call it up in you. You’ll know who you are, and what you’re intended to do. You’ll be a soldier, boy. Sealed to it. Life and limb, blood and bone. Not a soldier like others are, for it’s not the kind of war most people fight on earth. But because we’re not ‘most people,’ you and I, it will be far more important. The fate of the world will hinge upon it.”

Now no longer that wide-eyed child, Gabe is fresh out of prison, a leather-clad biker answering Grandaddy’s peremptory summons to, of all places, a cowboy bar in Northern Arizona. He is about to find out just how different he is from “most people”—and to meet the stranger with whom he will be sealed: life and limb, blood and bone, conscripted to fight an unholy war unlike any other.

For the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.

When he does.

And Gabe, thrown into the unlikely company of a country-music-loving rodeo cowboy from West Texas, an ancient Celtic goddess of war, an African Orisha who sings volcanoes awake, a Chinese goddess of mercy, Nephilim, and Grigori, finds himself fighting a battle he was bred for, but wants no part of.

As one who reads Urban Fantasy frequently, I was immediately captured by the concept Jennifer Roberson introduces in her newest novel. I’ve been a long-time fan of her work, having read her Tiger and Del series as well as the Cheysuli saga. Both are wonderful works of fiction which at the time created new ideas in fantasy as well as introducing strong female characters that don’t rely on the men around them. In her new work, she has taken a very old concept, Angels and the fight against evil and blended it to create something intriguing and new.

And again, while cowboys and bikers aren't new either, the characters are something new, in the way they don’t adhere to the standard tropes about cowboys and bikers but also how both characters interact with their choices and how different they both end up being from most people.

I loved the blend of supernatural with mythology, creation myths with ghost stories. For me, it felt very much like the opening chapters of the TV show Supernatural crossed with Lucifer. Only this time the devil is really the bad guy and the guys hunting him aren’t especially your average-grade human. It’s obvious that there’s a lot of research that has gone into the legends and stories that are used in the novel as both Gabe and Remi get to know each other and their abilities.

However, Gabe and Remi spend a lot of time questioning and figuring out what they’re supposed to do, reacting to events rather than determining their own choices. While this is obviously part of the set-up of the novel, where the pair must embrace their destiny, it does slow down the pace of the novel and left me feeling more like the novel is set up for the series rather than a standalone novel. The ending was good but felt more like it would be continued in the next novel. I would have preferred a more conclusive ending. However, being familiar with Roberson’s work, she has used this in previous series, concentrating on worldbuilding, so I am confident that this will lead into a series that will be better for the time she has taken in the first book.

I love the supernatural blend, with new concepts, the characters are fun, and I am intrigued enough to read the next book, to find out what else will happen. I look forward to getting more of Roberson’s wonderful characters and exciting world.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. ~~ Andrea Rittschof  

For other titles by Jennifer Roberson click here

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