The Horns of Grief by EJ Doble - Book Review

Series: The Blood & Steel Saga (Book #2)

Genre: Fantasy, Grimdark

Pages: 558 pages (paperback edition)

Published: February 20, 2023 by Independently Published (Self-published)

Review Date: 12/13/2023

Tags: #ejdoble #fantasy #grimdark #indie

The Horns of Grief is a grimdark fantasy masterpiece full of chaos, violence, brutal action, gallons of blood and completely builds off everything I loved in The Fangs of War. 

This is now the third book that I have read by EJ Doble and I can now confidently say he is one of my all time favorite authors. All future books that Doble pushes out will be an instant buy for me as he has giving me everything that I want and more out of a fantasy story.


I first was introduced to Doble’s work while randomly scrolling through Twitter when I came across a post EJ made with pictures of his covers in his Blood And Steel Saga that left me absolutely floored.

These covers just SPOKE to me to where I had to learn more. This is where I found out that his prequel novella, The Crown of Omens, could be read first before diving into his main series acting as a teaser into the world of Icebreaker Sea found within the series.

Then I was FLOORED AGAIN with how shockingly good this novella was. It was at this point I knew we had something special here so I could not wait to dive further into the main series. A new era of reading had begun.


The Horns of Grief is book 2 in Doble’s The Blood And Steel Saga coming right after the first entry in the series being The Fangs of War.

I had a fantastic time reading The Fangs of Wars being introduced to the brutal and unforgiving world of Icebreaker Sea while also getting to know a full cast of characters that I simultaneity loved and despised while still enjoying each POV.

At the culmination of the events in The Fangs of War, our main characters, the ones who are left anyways, are scattered throughout the land of Icebreaker Sea leaving many questions unanswered and you longing for more.

Well it’s a good thing I started my journey in The Blood and Steel Saga when 3 books were already out because you will want more after finishing each book.


The Horns of Grief starts off right where we ended things in book one, The Fangs of War. In this story, I was presented with a full cast of distinct characters, prose that captivates, action that is an unrelenting bloodbath, and an unpredictable thrilling plot.

The story itself is about two opposing factions that have a history of violence towards each other with both at arms to gain ultimate control. We follow multiple storylines within these warring factions where almost everyone has their own agenda for their personal gain. The world of Icebreaker Sea only grows in scope as we get to dive into new characters, new creatures, new areas, and new magical elements while a raging war surrounds us.

A Full Cast of Distinct Characters

Our main characters that made it out of the cacophony of events ending in book one, also make an appearance in book two which I was very happy to see as I really enjoyed reading each distinct POV. We were also met with a new array of characters that were a great addition to the story that I found myself rooting for their success or their demise.

There was not a single character that I did not enjoy reading. Usually, in any book, there is typically a character that does not fully connect with me, even in the acclaimed Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson.

There are two female characters in this story that are a breath of fresh air due to their distinct motives being on opposite ends of the spectrum which can clearly be seen towards the tail end of this story. I am theorizing that these two will meet up at some point in the future and I am all for it!

Where Doble shines though is in his masterful villain development of multiple characters that I simply could not get enough of.


Revek is a character that you meet in book number one that is a standout character for me as he displays so many non-redeeming qualities while at the same time I found myself rooting for him to succeed. The inner monologue of this character is revoltingly hilarious, unsettling, and most of all, compelling.

Prose That Captivates

Doble has a way with words that flows so easily and completely captivated me while reading. I am by no means a judge of prose but what I can tell you that the writing style in The Blood and Steel Saga is poetic, atmospheric, fully engaging, and I LOVE IT!

Doble’s writing style is unique and consistent throughout all the books I’ve read in The Blood and Steel Saga at this point. When reading through this book, I was thrown into a world that oozes darkness, anguish, and grit that remains at the forefront throughout the read.

The world of Icebreaker Sea is brought to life with the continuous atmospheric descriptions that are found throughout the story all the way from the first sentence in this book. When traversing areas like the Ozban forest in this story, a forest that makes most people go mad, you end up almost going mad yourself at how disturbed and unsettled you feel after following a few characters within this story.

Unrelenting Bloodbath of Action

There is not a lack of action in this book with it almost pouring out of the pages. Each of our characters wind up in some sort of conflict that transforms into a wild ride of chaos. The scenes in this story might be surrounded by chaos but Doble’s writing sytle allows us to easily follow the action from a thousand foot view while also being on the ground floor of the brutality.

Throughout the story, it felt like Doble was trying to one up himself with each action scene where he was constantly saying “hold my beer, let’s make this even better” which he successfully does in multiple scenes.

Going back to Doble’s prose, the action is also able captivate as there are just so many scenes that are gory, gruesome, shocking, and ultimately letting you finally take a breath after holding it for so long.

Unpredictable Thrilling Plot

The plot in The Horns of Grief takes us on multiple storylines that are all equally engaging and compelling. Some of these storylines intersect and even cross paths within the same chapter which was a delight to read as you got to quickly experience two different POVs within the same conflict.

I also really enjoyed that The Horns of Grief explored more fantasy elements in this story with the mythos of Icebreaker Sea and the world known as the Rapture giving us more to speculate what this unknown world contains and how else a certain character will utilize it.

The Rapture is a place but also a source of power that offers people who can wield it, many abilities that we barely touch on in this story so I am excited to see how this is even expanded more in future installments.

Let me leave off the Rapture with saying…we get to see more of a certain flaming sword and uh…it’s awesome!

The last quarter of this book….DAMN….was it an unrelenting blast of action and completely surprised me each page as I had no idea what to expect. I had my mind blown multiple times with different storylines that all had HUGE moments that will for sure leave an impression in my brain, snaking around like a basilisk in my mind for months to come.

Also, the last page of this book was another example of how Doble easily pulls your mind into the story transfixing your eyes on the page with me literally saying out loud, “Oooh shit….no way!”

Final Thoughts

To sum this all up, I have not personally read a lot of grimdark fantasy to make a good comparison to. I am currently reading The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie who I know is considered the “Lord of Grimdark” with his work being the gold standard of the grimdark genre.

What I can say though is that Doble’s work stands on par or even more at this point with me for the huge names you typically hear when talking about the fantasy genre. I envision Doble exploding in popularity in the fantasy community and I feel lucky to have been here at the beginning.

I rate The Horns of Grief 5 out of 5 stars and highly recommend for all fantasy lovers to read.

A new era of reading had begun.

For those that are interested, I actually had an interview with EJ Doble that is available to watch on YouTube where we talked all things The Blood & Steel Saga and other projects he’s working on as well.

Check it out HERE!

Also, I have a Patreon that is completely open for new members where I will place your name at the bottom of all future reviews and in all future videos. No pressure at all, I can’t thank you enough for simply reading this review and watching my videos. You ROCK!

Thank you to my Patrons

“Your name here!”