The Plight of Steel is the first novel in the high-fantasy series of the same name, written by Tony Del Degan. It details the initial inciting conflicts that start off the series, which will be continued through to the third novel, and introduce some of the different families and kingdoms that appear in the series.
Set during the middle half of the Third Age of the Earth, The Plight of Steel is primarily centered around various sub-plots, each about a different family and its struggles both within, and with others. Featured in the novel are the stories of Riverfall, Nightfall, Windspeak and Velerin, and later Yvaereth, with a smaller sub-plot focused of Aerynir Vaenoria also featured around the beginning of the story. A flashback sub-plot centered around the origin of Nictus Sharpe and the tyrannical rule of Dymon the Black also appears.
Overall, the book is exactly seven-hundred and forty-seven pages in length, with fifty-three chapters and eight sub-plot stories. It was written in close to two years by author Tony Del Degan.
Each sub-plot is separate, but connected with the others through characters, dialogue, and timeline. Each chapter switches between each sub-plot, and as characters either join with others or break away, sub-plots are joined and split. The story takes place over the course of a year.
Cassara Vendyros is coronated, as her father is sick with an unknown illness. Her brother, Balthier, tries to assassinate her, giving cryptic hints through thoughts and dialogue as to his reason for doing so. She escapes unharmed, and over the course of the story, comes to learn that, not only is her father alive and well, he is also using her in a master plan to regain his former power. She is banished, then wrecks on the shores of Yvaereth, where the sadistic prince, Duncan Wysteria, keeps her as a pet and tortures her for weeks.
Adrian Starmane accidentally amputates himself with a sword, and falls ill with a fever. He begins to have visions of strange things, including Gods, demons, and dragons, and wakes up to find out that his father's council believes him to be the mythical Savior, destined to destroy The Specter King. His father is now intent on training him, then getting him to the Forest of Rock in order for him to fulfill the prophecy given to humanity by the ancient priests.
After beheading a beleaguered and disgraced Dymon the Black, boy-king Castian Valinor miraculously survives The Silencing - a test where criminals are drowned in vats of grain. He then becomes king, but his success is short lived. His sister, Kelyssa, must learn to become queen of a corrupt kingdom, its prestige and honor long dead, though her council and advisers are seemingly working towards their own malicious goals.
Alistair Wildlight believes his son to be the Savior, and pushes him beyond his limit both mentally and physically. Ancient stories start to drive him mad with fear and uncertainty, and as he sequesters himself in his castle, restricting all travel to and from his kingdom, his people start to die out, all while his new elven advisers poison his mind further.
After being summoned to Velerin by a young Nictus Sharpe, Duchess Elyssia Delerosa and her cousin Jaymes are asked by Cyran Sharpe, the disgraced king, to help him defeat Dymon the Black. The warlord has conquered the kingdom, and now rules it with an iron fist, making it difficult for the duchess to accomplish her task. Eventually, she begins to have her own visions of the future, which complicate an already dire situation.
The story takes place during the middle of the Third Age, with the Velerin Flashback scene taking place during the start of the Third Age, two decades prior. Both The Plight of Steel and its sequel, The Point of Chaos, detail the incidents leading up to War of the Third Age.
The Plight of Steel is a reference to imagery of warfare. The plight being the problem, and steel being meant to represent swords, armor, and battle. More simply, it means: The Problem of War, that war being the oncoming War of the Third Age, which will be featured in the third novel.
The Plight of Steel was well received, earning more than four out of five stars on the popular reading website Goodreads. It was featured in an article in the Calgary Based Community Now! Magazine, along with The Recognition - another of Tony Del Degan's published stories.
“Wow… this book is worth the read. To be honest I’m not a consistent fan of this genre yet the author has breathed some serious light, shadow and colour into these characters. Loads of themes that are tightly interwoven throughout the story… abuse of power, the rough road to compromise, learning to own your gifts… for me, all this led to a very engaging story and an easy read. If this is the first novel for Tony Del Degan then I so look forward to seeing where this takes him.” - Review on Goodreads.