My Favorite Bit: Ryan Van Loan talks about THE SIN IN THE STEEL

My Favorite Bit

Ryan Van Loan is joining us today to talk about his novel The Sin in the Steel. Here’s the publisher’s description:

Ryan Van Loan’s The Sin in the Steel is a sparkling debut fantasy set in a diverse world, featuring dead gods, a pirate queen, shapeshifting mages, and a Sherlockian teenager determined to upend her society.

Heroes for hire. If you can pay.

Buc and Eld are the first private detectives in a world where pirates roam the seas, mages speak to each other across oceans, mechanical devices change the tide of battle, and earthly wealth is concentrated in the hands of a powerful few.

It’s been weeks since ships last returned to the magnificent city of Servenza with bounty from the Shattered Coast. Disaster threatens not just the city’s trading companies but the empire itself. When Buc and Eld are hired to investigate, Buc swiftly discovers that the trade routes have become the domain of a sharp-eyed pirate queen who sinks all who defy her.

Now all Buc and Eld have to do is sink the Widowmaker’s ship….

Unfortunately for Buc, the gods have other plans.

Unfortunately for the gods, so does Buc.

What’s Ryan Van Loan’s favorite bit?

FC The Sin in the Steel


My favorite bit of The Sin in the Steel is our protagonist: Sambuciña “Buc” Alhurra, a 17-year old autodidact rogue raised on the streets. What I love about Buc is that because this is written (mostly) from a first person point of view, we truly get to see the world through her eyes and in so doing, learn more about her worldview. Buc is harsh, born of the streets and there’s no naivete to her, but at the same time she’s booksmart, self-educated with laudable aspirations of changing the society around her. There’s one scene in particular that gets at why Buc was such a joy to write.

Buc needs to sink the Widowmaker, the most dreaded pirate in the Shattered Coast (for spoilery reasons) and she needs to recruit the veteran captain of a brig to do so. The captain, being a veteran and no fool, isn’t super excited to risk his ship and crew (not to mention his own neck) going up against a pirate known for being undefeated, but Buc knows just which strings to pluck. Sizing him up as only someone born on the streets—where divining a stranger’s intent from a raised eye can mean the difference between life and death—can, she finds the man’s drivers: ego and greed. What if he were able to defeat the pirate without sinking the ship? He wouldn’t just gain renown and put several trading companies, not to mention nations, in his debt, but he’d also have a second ship. No longer a captain, but an admiral of his own, fledgling fleet.

Again, our captain is no fool, so while that’s a juicy offer, ordinarily that wouldn’t be enough, save Buc has an ace up her sleeve. She anchors the picture she’s painting him of their victory in advice gleaned from books written by some of the best captains of the century. True, Buc’s never worked on a ship, much less captained one, but she’s studied the best that ever have and that gives her knowledge even this old salt doesn’t possess. It’s that one-two punch combination of street smarts paired with book learning that gives Buc her edge and in the end the good captain doesn’t stand a chance. He can practically see the sea battle unfolding, his flag being run up the Widowmaker’s mast, and the riches that follow…all he has to do is trust Buc’s vision. Buc, being Buc, one never knows if that vision was her plan all along or if this is just another setup to something deeper.

The only way to find out, Dear Reader, is to follow along, though it wouldn’t hurt to recall how this all started, with me warning you that she’s as harsh and uncompromising as the streets she was born to. Trust, a wise man once said, is the sound of death. Savvy?


The Sin in the Steel Universal Book Link





Ryan Van Loan is an up and coming Science Fiction and Fantasy author. Ryan served six years as a Sergeant in the United States Army Infantry (PA National Guard) where he served on the front lines of Afghanistan. Ryan has traveled around the world with his wife, wandering Caribbean island haunts, exploring the palaces and cathedrals of Europe, and hiking with elephants in the rainforests of Southeast Asia. When he’s not traveling Ryan enjoys hiking, soccer (football), tabletop gaming, weightlifting, and all things culinary. Ryan’s debut novel, The Sin in the Steel (Tor Books), the first in The Fall of the Gods series was released on July 21, 2020. Today, Ryan lives in northeastern Pennsylvania with his wife and two dogs where he’s hard at work on his next novel.

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