Thank you to Crown Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for the eARC to read and review! Bloodsworn goes on sale February 16, 2021.
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: Ashlords #2
Recommend to Others?: Yes
ABOUT: The Races are over. War has begun.
Ashlord and Longhand armies battle for control of the Empire as Dividian rebels do their best to survive the crossfire. This is no longer a game. It’s life or death.
Adrian, Pippa, and Imelda each came out of the Races with questions about their role in the ongoing feud. The deeper they dig, the clearer it is that the hatred between their peoples has an origin point: the gods.
Their secrets are long-buried, but one disgruntled deity is ready to unveil the truth. Every whisper leads back to the underworld. What are the gods hiding there? As the sands of the Empire shift, these heroes will do everything they can to aim their people at the true enemy. But is it already too late?
My Review: Bloodsworn is a breathtaking story in which our three incredible main characters now work to defend their people, end a war, and defeat meddling gods. If you enjoyed Ashlords, then you are going to love the awesomeness that is Bloodsworm.
The reader is dropped right into the ugliness of war a month or so after the events of Ashlords. Through the alternating POVs of Imelda (a Dividian), Adrian (a Longhand), and Pippa (an Ashlord), we get a feel of where things stand, what the two warring sides (Ashlords and Longhand with Dividians stuck helplessly in the middle), and how the war has been internally affecting the main characters. For me, this part went on a little too long because I was super eager-beaver to get the action going and learning what it would take to stop the war.
The story is a thrilling and sometimes emotional escapade. I (and our protagonists) was surprised by how much deeper the situation was. How far the animosity went back. Revelation after revelation, surprise after surprise, further entrenched me into the plot. I loved learning the who-what-when-where-why-how of it all, about the ash horses, and how the Ashlord gods changed everything.
But what I loved most were the three young characters who spearhead this story – their strength, courage and leadership. They and the other young secondary characters close to them are indicative of how youth today have the power to make a difference and change the world for the better. Imelda, Adrian, and Pippa make something out of nothing.
The world-building is so fresh, magical and amazing. Very rich and complex. The author has truly crafted a unique world with unforgettable characters (new and old). The whole idea behind the horses made of ash is so fascinating and works as a great metaphor to the overall story. And I like the physically active role gods play in what’s happening, which I hope to see more of in fantasy in general. It adds an extra layer that can affect the plot and/or characters.
The last third of the story was heart-stopping action and several emotional (for me) moments that all led to a very satisfying conclusion. I wish there was more to read because I want to know what’s next for certain characters! I really enjoyed this duology. The promise of romance – as small as it was – was unexpected but I liked it and it is well deserved. What a great read!
More by Scott Reintgen