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Book Review

Book Cover

Bloodchild (Hardback)


Author: Anna Stephens
Publisher: Harper Voyager
500 pages
RRP: £14.99
ISBN: 978 0 00 821599 6
Publication Date: 05 September 2019

Rilporin has fallen to invaders, scattering its defenders across the realm. Some like Tara stay behind to hopefully wage a guerrilla war. Mace gathers to him the surviving armies and in the south Crys and Dom travel to gain the aid of the Krike…

Bloodchild (2019. 500 pages) brings to the close the impressive Godblind fantasy trilogy, written by Anna Stephens. As a whole the trilogy has been one of the more satisfying works of fantasy I have read in a while, with a masterclass on how to end a series with great sadness and satisfaction.

Some of the reason for this is that magic is used very sparingly, even though this is a story of conflict between the gods of light and dark. Because the book concentrates on the characters and politics of the situation, when magic is used, the intent and imagery are that much more powerful.

The plot is massive and sprawling, covering the majority of this fictional kingdom. The Mireces have won and seized the capitol and much of the land around, they have scattered their enemies, but at a terrible cost. They worshiped and revered the Dark Lady, an evil god, hoping that in striking at the heart of the light worshipers, they could spread her influence across the lands. But in the final battle the Dark Lady was destroyed.

Much of this part of the narrative is taken up with what happens when you win the war, but lose the reason for the fight. Corvus, is a superb war time leader who has led his people to victory, but a man who knows only blood and cruelty may not make for a successful monarch, especially if those in his court are already plotting against him.

This is a dark story for all of the characters. The book opens with the heroes having lost, not just the city and state but loved ones as well. For many of the characters, as they claw back that which was lost, the journey becomes even darker. This does not mean that the whole of the story is depressing. Tara, under the guise of a servant has remained in the city, no longer a warrior of Rilporin, but now as the worm which eats at Corvus, from the inside. I like how Stephens was able to show that she was both strong and tender, too often female character have to take on male characteristic to be thought of as having agency.

Crys and Dom continue to travel south looking for allies, while still having to deal with the devastation of the previous book. In an openly homosexual relationship, Stephens portrays their love for one another as touching and real. Even though the reader may have their favourite characters for one of them to be carrying around a fox god does not bode well in a series which is not above killing off popular characters.

The arc which pulls all the strings together belongs to Rillirin, whose pregnancy offers up a way of reanimating the Dark Lady into the new child’s body. Should this happen before Rilporin is retaken then the heroes lose completely.

I have only really touched upon some of the main characters and events. There is so much going on in the book and while it skips around, offering up chapters from specific characters POV, Stephens never lets the threads of her story drop. Pace remains high, as with so many characters there is a lot of story to get through and the depictions of both political wrangling and outright war are well constructed.

I can highly recommend this series.


Charles Packer

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