Book Review: The Bloodsworn by Erin Lindsey
A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Series: Book 3 of The Bloodbound
Publisher: Ace (September 27, 2016)
Length: 352 pages
No question, I was particularly eager to get my hands on this third book of The Bloodbound trilogy, especially after that bombshell Erin Lindsey left us with at the end of The Bloodforged. And it appears she’s not done with us yet. The author has saved the best surprises for this final volume, along with some of the toughest battles and most challenging decisions our characters will have to face. The momentum of the war in Gedona is approaching its zenith, and by the time the dust settles, no one will be left untouched.
The Bloodsworn is the excellent result and reward after two books of build-up to this final showdown between the Kingdom of Alden and the invading Oridian forces. Since this is the last volume in the trilogy, the following review may contain mild spoilers for The Bloodbound and The Bloodforged so you might want to be caught up before proceeding. The previous book ended with a troubling revelation about Erik White, the king of Alden, leading to the creation of a secret plan known only to his majesty’s closest friends at court. A rumor is purposely spread that the king is ill and unable to appear in public, while his sister-in-law and bodyguard Alix prepares to go on a dangerous mission to save him—a quest which would take her beyond enemy lines. Erik himself is locked away to prevent him from being a danger to himself and others, while Alix’s husband Liam is left behind at the palace to guard his half-brother and keep up the façade.
Alix also seeks the council of her brother, General Riggard Black. Though Rig is unable to leave his post, he does send his lover the priestess Vel to accompany Alix, knowing that the two most important women in the world to him will be able to help each other. However, despite Vel’s handy healing skills and knowledge of the terrain, the priestess is no fighter, and on this particular mission Alix knows what a liability that is. Speed is of the essence; if they can’t get to what they need in time, terrible things will happen to Erik and Liam back at home and the kingdom of Alden will fall.
This is a book that covers a lot, a lot of ground. The story itself has several peaks as our characters have to deal with multiple disasters in their respective plotlines, until they all eventually converge in one explosive ending. Once more we have diverging POVs as our main couple is separated again in this book, with Alix heading out into the wilderness to mount a daring rescue while Liam continues settling into his new role as prince by trying to fill in for Erik. Their marriage is further strained as Alix’s guilt and Liam’s lack of confidence remains an obstacle between them, but with everything that happens over the course of this story, they soon realize what is truly important. Thus even amidst all the action scenes and battle sequences, I feel that this book might actually be the most emotional one of the series.
Then there’s Erik, who spends the bulk of his time in this novel imprisoned. This doesn’t make his arc any less interesting though, and in fact, after Alix’s POV my next favorite one was probably Erik’s. Out of all the characters, I think he’s the one who has grown the most. While it’s true that most of his battles are internal, without giving away any spoilers, I have to say Lindsey wrote his sections very well, making his personal conflict and the nuances in his personality feel utterly convincing. To be a good man, or be a good king? Those two roles sometimes clash, and Erik’s mettle is tested when that problem arises, though others like Alix, Liam, and Rig are also forced to ask a similar question of themselves when confronted with their own dilemmas. Lindsey has a knack for challenging her protagonists by putting them in extreme situations, which makes for gripping entertainment, but because you know deep down they are all kind-hearted and inherently good characters, their decisions are often predictable.
Still, like the previous two books in the trilogy, The Bloodsworn is meant to be a feel-good read, and I think we can safely say, mission accomplished. Granted, there are some darker undertones here and there (we are dealing with brutal war and plenty of blood magic, after all) but even through the hardships and heartaches, I feel like I can always cheer for these characters. Every book has also added something new to the world and its history, and I love how incredibly deep the setting feels. Mix in the excellent world-building and brilliant characterization with the action, romance, and thrills of the story, and you have yourself the ultimate fun, enjoyable “summer vacation” kind of fantasy novel.
In fact, according to the author’s website, that’s exactly the kind of book she was aiming to write, with the perfect blend of “action, heartbreak, and triumph”. The Bloodbound trilogy is all that and more, with The Bloodsworn being the outstanding conclusion I’d been hoping for. This is a series very much worth exploring if you enjoy fast-paced and adventurous character-focused fantasy. Highly recommended!