Next Author: Megan Shepherd
Previous Author: Lucius Shepard

Joel Shepherd

Joel Shepherd(1974- )
Joel Shepherd  is an Australian author. Born in Adelaide, he studied film and television, international relations, has interned on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, and has traveled widely in Asia. He also writes science fiction. For more information, check out Joel Shepherd’s website.
Click here for more stories by Joel Shepherd.

Crossover: Action-packed SF adventure

Crossover by Joel Shepherd

Australian author Joel Shepherd came to my attention via his excellent current fantasy series, A TRIAL OF BLOOD AND STEEL, which I was so impressed by that I decided to check out his earlier novels. Crossover is the first novel in his CASSANDRA KRESNOV trilogy, and was also his first published book, back in 2001 in Australia. The series is now also in print in the US thanks to Pyr, with lovely and evocative cover illustrations by Stephen Martiniere.

The story revolves around Cassandra (Sandy) Kresnov, a synthetic person: to the naked eye she looks like a normal person, but she's been artificially created by the League to fight in their war against the Federation. She's also the most advanced type of her kind: not only considerably stronger and more intelligent than a normal person, but also gifted with the ability to think later... Read More

Breakaway: Immensely entertaining

Breakaway by Joel Shepherd

Breakaway, the second Cassandra Kresnov novel by Australian SF and fantasy author Joel Shepherd, picks up soon after the ending of series opener Crossover. Sandy, a highly advanced artificial human with military training, is now attached to a squad of SWAT agents, while also helping the government of Callay review its network security. Despite the sensitive nature of this work, and her ongoing integration into Callay society, many political and religious factions still take issue with her presence. After the heavy-handed way in which the Federation handled the crisis described in Crossover, Callay is now reconsidering its relationship with the Earth-based federal government. Sandy is stuck right in the middle of this hotbed, living in a society that is religious... Read More

Killswitch: Even more exciting than the first two books!

Killswitch by Joel Shepherd

Killswitch, the final book in Joel Shepherd’s CASSANDRA KRESNOV trilogy, picks up the story 2 years after the end of Breakaway. The Federation is still going through a period of upheaval, with Callayan President Neiland trying to make Tanusha the capital of the formerly Earth-based organization, and numerous powerful factions (including Federation Fleet warships) converging on the planet to try and affect the outcome of this political power play.

Meanwhile, Callay is still in the process of setting up the administrative and military infrastructure necessary for its new function, and of course the former League hunter-killer android Cassandra Kresnov, and her friend Vanessa Rice, are heavily involved, both somehow installed at the top of the new Callayan Defence Force. (And if this seems a stretch in terms of probabil... Read More

23 Years on Fire: Bad pacing slows down this military adventure

23 Years on Fire by Joel Shepherd

23 Years on Fire is the fourth book in Joel Shepherd’s CASSANDRA KRESNOV series, a set of military SF books set several hundred years in future, in a distant galaxy. Cassandra Kresnov, who goes by Sandy, is the commander of the galactic Federal Security Agency, or FSA’s, special operations branch. She is also a GI, a combat-designed 100% synthetic person. Sandy must deal with the prejudices of original humans and her own questions about the destiny and evolution of her “people,” the synthetic soldiers.

The book opens with a wild-ride action sequence as Sandy and a bunch of her friends invade the capital city of a planet named Pyeongwha, and uncover strange, disturbing medical experiments being done on citizens who were defined as dissidents. Back home on the planet of Callay, the galactic capital of the Federation, Sandy and her human friends struggle with negative public ... Read More

Sasha: GRRM fan? Try Joel Shepherd!

Sasha by Joel Shepherd

Sasha is the first volume in A TRIAL OF BLOOD AND STEEL, a projected 4-book fantasy series by Australian author Joel Shepherd, who previously also published a science fiction trilogy called the CASSANDRA KRESNOV series. His novels have been available in Australia for several years, and are now being released in the US thanks to Pyr, with Petrodor, the next volume in A TRIAL OF BLOOD AND STEEL, due out in March 2010. Based on the strength of Sasha, I expect Joel Shepherd to become a well-known name in US fantasy circles soon.

The land of Lenayin is spiritually divided into two different religions. The Goeren-yai faith, which is the original Lenayin religion and embraced by most of the common people, has a pagan flavor, its adherents guided by spirits and focused on ... Read More

Petrodor: Excellent sequel to Sasha

Petrodor by Joel Shepherd

Petrodor picks up shortly after the ending of Sasha, the first novel in Joel Shepherd's A Trial of Blood and Steel series. Sashandra Lenayin (Sasha for short) now resides in the Torrovan port city Petrodor, a true hotbed of intrigue with several political factions squaring off against each other. With a brewing Verenthane crusade to retake the Bakosh provinces that are occupied by the serrin, war is in the air, and the tensions between the various camps are threatening to come to a boil: the powerful and rich merchant families, the nobility, the clergy, and the common folk who are torn between the predominant Verenthane religion and the serrin-influenced Nasi-Keth. Add to this the "talmaad" — serrin agents living in Petrodor — and you have a tension-filled setting that promises — an... Read More

Tracato: One of the best new fantasies I’ve read all year

Tracato by Joel Shepherd

Tracato is the third installment in Joel Shepherd’s excellent A Trial of Blood and Steel fantasy quartet, and not only is it the best book in the series so far, it’s also one of the best new fantasy novels I’ve read all year.

The continent of Rhodia, shared by a fractured human civilization and the non-human serrin, finally begins to inch towards full-scale war. The northern Verenthane countries, with their conflicted and somewhat reluctant goeren-yai allies, are marching south to reclaim the Saalshen Bacosh. These provinces, occupied by the serrin during the last major conflict with humanity, have been thriving thanks to the rational guidance of the serrin and the Nasi-Keth, but the zealous Verenthanes have long wanted to reclaim them, and even some humans there long to return to feudal times.... Read More

Haven: The end of an excellent fantasy series

Haven by Joel Shepherd

Haven is the fourth and final book in Joel Shepherd’s excellent A Trial of Blood and Steel fantasy series. If you’re not familiar with the series yet, please take a look at my reviews about the first three novels above, as well as my article about them over at If an excellent fantasy series that’s low on magic and high on morally ambiguous characters and complex politics in the vein of George R.R. Martin’s A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE (to which this series has been compared by many reviewers) sounds good to you, I highly recommend checking out series opener Sasha, because these books are almost criminally under-read.

The... Read More