Book Review: The Bloodforged by Erin Lindsey
A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Series: Book 2 of Bloodbound
Publisher: Ace (9/29/15)
Mogsy’s Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
I confess, any time I go into a new book by one of my favorite authors, I always do so with some nervousness, especially if it’s a sequel to a book I loved. So when I finished The Bloodforged and it ended up being even better than The Bloodbound, it was definitely cause to rejoice! This series is showing no signs of slowing down; in fact, the author ramps up the intrigue and adventure in this brilliant follow-up, building upon her characters and further expanding the political and historical scope of her world. Moreover, The Bloodforged shows there are even higher stakes and bigger plans in place in this far-reaching game of love and war. Well done, Erin Lindsey!
Like the first book, this second volume focuses on our three protagonists. If you haven’t read The Bloodbound yet, I recommend starting from there to get acquainted with the characters, and you should also be aware that this review will contain spoilers for what has happened for them since the events of book one. Noblewoman and warrior Alix Black, formerly a scout in the Aldenian army, is now the king’s personal bodyguard and wife to the prince. Erik White is the desperate king of Alden, trying to find ways to repel the invading Oridian forces closing in on his kingdom on all sides. While all this is going on, Liam White, newly married and newly recognized as the king’s brother, is also still struggling to adjust to royal life.
What surprised and delighted me though, was this book’s addition of a new point-of-view character in the form of Riggard Black! We first met Rig back in The Bloodbound, where he was introduced as Alix’s older brother, bannerman of his house, and Commander General of the king’s army. His greater role and presence in this book was a real treat, providing an up-close and harrowing view of the war right on the frontlines.
Meanwhile, Erik and Alix attempt a near-impossible journey through the mountains to reach the capital of Harram, Alden’s neighbor to the west. Brutal weather, illness, avalanches, hostile tribesmen, and a host of other dangers plague their mission, but all would be lost if they cannot negotiate an alliance with the Harrami and convince them to aid Alden in the war. And then there’s Liam, way on the other side of the country, tasked to lead a diplomatic convoy east to the Republic of Onnan where he is to investigate the delay on the construction of a great fleet of Aldenian warships. Instead, he finds himself woefully unprepared for the cutthroat nature of the Republic’s politics, a deadly web of complexity and intrigue which quickly swallows him up.
A lot clearly happens in this book, and I also feel that it takes a somewhat different approach than The Bloodbound, which was a fantasy story with adventurous and romantic elements in equal parts. In contrast, the romance gets dialed down a little in The Bloodforged while the adventure gets dialed up, up, up, WAY UP! If that sounds more to your liking, you will not be disappointed.
All the characters resonated with me in a big way in this one, and I particularly enjoyed how the dynamics between them have evolved in the months since the events at the end of the first book. What Alix, Erik, and Liam went through together has made their friendship stronger, but nevertheless there is some of that residual tension left over from Alix’s choice. Those emotions play a big and powerful part in her chapters with Erik, adding layers of meaning to the things they say and do. It also adds a whole new dimension to their already precarious situation, the fact that they can persevere through all their troubles in the mountains and still not know what kind of reception they’ll receive in Harram.
But as much as I enjoyed reading about Alix and Erik’s perilous trek through the snowy wilderness, Liam and Rig’s chapters were even more exciting. Liam was always a favorite of mine. For a new POV character like Rig though, it surprised me how quickly he won me over. Rig is a risk-taker, living up to the saying about his family “As bold as a Black.” His chapters show us just how dire things are for Alden in this war, and there’s never a dull moment. Still, Rig’s fighting and leadership skills aside, what I loved most about his storyline was his relationship with the priestess Vel, reminding us of this series’ romantic roots. With their personalities, it’s no surprise there was so much delicious chemistry!
Then there’s Liam. Unlike the other threads, his story had little outright action and lacked any romance, but nevertheless I could not get enough. I always looked forward to Liam’s chapters and cheered a little bit when his POV came back into play. There’s so much to like about him: he’s down-to-earth, funny, and charming even when he’s being self-deprecating. I love stories involving political intrigue, and the Republic of Onnan was the perfect setting for this. But even with the power struggles and deadly machinations, Liam’s chapters were humorous, simply because he is his lovable self, trying to solve the mystery of the Aldenian fleet while navigating his way around “political speak” hoping not to bumble it up too badly.
I can already tell there is so much more coming. For a sequel, The Bloodforged accomplished a lot, revving up the threat of an Oridian invasion while also opening up the world to show just how much is at stake for the entire continent, and you just know no one will be getting off easy. A solid blend of action, mystery and romance makes The Bloodforged a serious page-turner. World-building and characters in this series are amazing, and Erin Lindsey’s writing has that fun and addictive quality that sucks you right in and won’t let go. I really hope more readers will discover her talent for entertaining and immersive storytelling and see why I enjoy her books so much! Highly recommended, and I can hardly wait for book three, The Bloodsworn!