Author: Erin Lindsey
Reviewer: Gikany & Una
The Bloodforged picks up a few months after the events of the first novel, The Bloodbound, ends. This novel had very different feel from the first book, and although we liked the book overall, it wasn’t quite as solid as the previous one.
The Bloodforged is a transitional novel, and that is the main reason for the different feel. In order to get several pieces into position, Ms. Lindsey split the narrative between four characters. Gikany and Una are a bit divided in our reactions to this change in the style of narration. Una liked having each chapter devoted to a single plot line. She preferred the longer moments, but wished they had been more balanced in length. Gikany would have preferred having multiple short check-ins in every chapter, giving glimpses of each of the three plot lines as the novel progressed. This way the reader does not get fully immersed in the point of view of a single character, making the transitions less jarring. We both agreed that the antagonists’ points of view were not needed. They were unnecessary since we were able to discern most of what they confirmed from other moments in the other point of views.
There was a lot going on in this novel. Rig is the general of an army facing almost impossible odds. He must prevent the Oridians from overrunning Alden’s border while Liam and Erik seek aid from their allies. The battle against the Oridian’s and the difficulties of the front line were compelling. Rig is as uncanny, sly, and irreverent, as he is amusing and endearing. We liked the introduction of Vel and look forward to seeing what happens next.
Liam’s mission to Onnan City was compelling and fascinating. The machinations of the Republicana were intriguing and frightening. The mystery of who is sabotaging the fleet was interesting and we enjoyed watching as Liam bumbled his way through it. Experiencing Liam’s adventure allowed us to see him mature more fully into his new role.
Alix and Erik’s harrowing journey to Harram and the final meeting with the King of Harram were captivating. We were given both Alix and Erik’s point of views, which were fascinating to experience. Knowing what both of them were thinking and feeling became very important as the novel concluded with a surprising cliffhanger. Gikany and Una enjoyed Alix and Erik’s relationship and still wonder if Erik was the better choice for Alix. In the previous novel, we thought Erik was the better suitor, but that was primarily because we lacked Liam’s point of view. In this novel, we were able to see that Alix and Liam are well matched.
Overall, we really liked this sequel to The Bloodbound. Although The Bloodforged is a transitional novel, the plight of the three parties was compelling. Our characters began the novel in peril, desperate to change their circumstances, the novel ends with them still in peril, still desperate, but with the surprising twist at the end that will further complicate matters. Needless to say, we are eager to see what happens next for our characters in this wonderful world.
As war between Alden and Oridia intensifies, King Erik must defend his kingdom from treachery and enemies on all sides—but the greatest danger lurks closer to home…
When the war began, Lady Alix Black played a minor role, scouting at the edge of the king’s retinue in relative anonymity. Though she’s once again facing an attacking Oridian force determined to destroy all she holds dear, she is now bodyguard to the king and wife to the prince.
Still, she is unprepared for what the revival of the war will mean. Erik is willing to take drastic measures to defend his domain, even if it means sending Prince Liam into a deadly web of intrigue and traveling into the perilous wild lands of Harram himself.
Only the biggest threat to the kingdom might be one that neither Alix nor Erik could have imagined, or prepared for…
Release Date: September 29, 2015
Series: The Bloodbound #2
Format(s): Paperback (368 pages), e-book
Book Source: Publisher/NetGalley
The Bloodforged (The Bloodbound #2)
Reviews in the Series:
The Bloodbound by Erin Lindsay (The Bloodbound #1)
Alix mounted the steps the way a condemned man climbs the stairs to the gallows. Inside, Liam and Erik awaited her. When she gave the word, they would leave. They would ride out together as far as the south gate. And then they would part, for the gods only knew how long. Liam would head east, Alix and Erik west. Not for the first time, Alix’s heart and her duty would tear her in two.
She hesitated outside the door to the study, but there was no point in putting it off further. Nodding to the royal guardsman on the door, she stepped through.
“It’s time, Your Majesty.”
Erik looked splendid in his armour and white leather, the garnet-studded pommel of his bloodblade jutting out from his hip, and Alix realised how long it had been since she’d seen him dressed for battle. The sight was at once inspiring and disconcerting.
“Don’t look so downcast, Alix,” he said. “You’re going home.”
She managed a smile. “I do look forward to seeing Blackhold again. Though . . .” The smile faded. “I wonder what I will find.”
Liam looked away, his mouth pressed into a thin line. She could guess his thoughts. He wanted to be there for her when she stepped through the doors of her childhood home. A place she hadn’t seen for nearly two years, that had fallen to the enemy, with gods knew what consequences for those beloved halls.
I wonder if I will even recognise it.
She pushed the thought away. “After you, Your Majesty.”
It was chaos in the courtyard. Grooms and squires bustled between horses stamping and snorting with impatience. The White Wolves gathered near the armoury, the scouts near the cistern. The supply wagons were islands of stillness in a sea of moving horseflesh. Near the gate, the honour guard was already mounted up, the White banner dangling from gilded spears propped in their saddles.
The king’s arrival brought a hush over it all. Heads turned. Some faces were apprehensive, others merely expectant. If Erik noticed, he gave no sign; he mounted up as if they were merely heading out for a leisurely hunt.
The Street of Stars had been cleared for the procession, but the common folk were permitted to gather along the fringes. And gather they did, in gutters and side streets, on rooftops and balconies. It seemed to Alix that every man, woman, and child in Erroman lined the route, watching in an eerie near-silence as the king and his retinue rode past. She was reminded forcibly of last summer, when Erik and the banner lords had returned from the front. The streets had been quiet then too, the people unsure how to react to the unexpected sight of their king, a man whose crown had nearly been wrested from him by his own brother. That ride had ended in triumph, with joyful crowds all but carrying them to the palace gate.
Alix felt as though she were reliving that day in reverse.
The crowds bore sombre witness all the way through the south gate and onto the old temple road. Alix hadn’t been this way since that day, and she couldn’t suppress a shudder. The gate had been repaired, the bodies long since buried, but it seemed to Alix that an aura of death remained, like a foul odour that never quite goes away.
The others felt it too, she could tell. Erik’s gaze roamed over the ruins, grim and thoughtful. Liam, meanwhile, wouldn’t even look at the pile of rubble that had once been the Elders’ Gate. He stared straight ahead, unblinking, as though he could pass the place where Arran Green had died without it tugging relentlessly at him, like a fishhook catching at the weeds.
The column drew to a halt at the crossroads. Erik, Liam, and Alix dismounted.
“I guess this is it,” Liam said.
“Guess so.” Alix longed to bury herself in his arms, but felt as if every pair of eyes in the procession were trained on them.
Including Erik’s. Looking from Alix to Liam and back, he sighed. “I’m sorry for this. I wish there were another way.”
Alix nodded. They’d had this conversation too many times to count. There was no point in having it again now, in front of White Wolves and royal guardsmen and half a hundred others.
She tried for a smile. “At least you’ll have Rudi,” she said as the wolfhound trotted over.
“Yeah, great.” Liam gave his dog a wary look. “If you get word I’ve been killed, you’ll know what happened.”
“Death jokes. Perfect.” She had half a mind to slap him; lucky for him there were all those pairs of eyes.
“You are an ass, brother,” Erik said with a rueful smile, clasping Liam’s arm.
He grinned. “It’s a gift.”
“Just promise me you won’t bestow it upon the Onnani.”
“I’ll do my best.”
Erik’s smile faded. “I’m counting on you, Liam. We all are.” He slung himself back in the saddle. “Let Eldora be your sign,” he said before guiding his horse away.
Liam looked at his boots. He shoved a hand through his unruly dark hair. He had nothing to say.
“Good luck.” It was the best Alix could manage.
“Take care of him, Allie. And . . . take care of yourself.” He looked up, the beginnings of a smile hitching one side of his mouth. “I don’t want to hear about frostbite on your toes or panthers in your bedroll.”
“Panthers. In my bedroll.”
“Cats love to snuggle up with warm things.”
“I’ll try to remember that.”
“Speaking of warm things . . .” He reached into a saddlebag and drew out a scroll. “Here. Don’t open it now. Save it for a really cold night.”
She ran a thumb over the wax seal, marked with the royal sunburst. “What is it?”
“It’s a letter, you dunce.”
“I can see that, but—”
“A really cold night, Allie. When you need to warm up.”
She shook her head, baffled.
“Gods, woman, you have no imagination at all.” Gathering her into his arms, he whispered something in her ear.
Alix felt her skin warm. “Oh.”
His laugh against her ear made her want to cry. The gods only knew when she would hear it again. If she would hear it again.
He pulled back and took her chin in his hand. “No, no. Don’t do that. If you cry, you might take me with you, and then how will I ever command this fine pack of manly men?”
She laughed. “And women?”
“The women are especially manly.”
“Don’t let Rona Brown hear you say that.”
He glanced over his shoulder. “We’d better get on. We’re holding up the war.” He planted a soft, chaste kiss on her mouth.
Alix brought a hand to his cheek. Drew in a deep draught of his scent, as though she could bottle it, keep it with her. She was about to pull away when she felt his tongue slip into her mouth. She broke off a moment later, gaze skipping over the assembled crowd. She could feel the fierce blush colouring her cheeks.
“They’ll get over it,” Liam said. He swept onto his horse with a grace belying the weight of his armour, then reached down to offer Alix a hand onto her own horse.
“What, in front of all these manly men?” She mounted up on her own.
“All right, Wolves,” Liam called. “We’re for the Imperial Road.”
Ide said something Alix couldn’t hear, and the Pack turned as one, pointing their mounts south. They’d follow the Imperial Road as far as the river, then swing east onto the Onnani Highway.
“I think I’d rather face a horde of thralls,” Liam said in parting.
“There’s no such thing as thralls anymore,” Alix said. But I’ll be facing the next best thing in the mountain tribes. If she’d been Liam, she would have made a joke of it. But Alix didn’t feel like joking. She was leaving behind the man she loved, and all that lay ahead of her was bitter winds and bitter memories.
And the deadly mountain tribes of Harram.
Erin Lindsey is on an epic quest to write the perfect vacation novel for fantasy lovers. THE BLOODFORGED, Book 2 of the Bloodbound trilogy, releases on September 29. She also writes fantasy mystery as E.L. Tettensor. You can find Erin on her website: erin-lindsey.com, or on Twitter @etettensor.