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Blood's Pride

Posted by Vanessa On Friday, May 10, 2013

A generation ago the Norlanders invaded the Shadar, beating down the city and its people with bloodthirsty efficiency, making the Shadari their slaves in order to mine a rare ore used for powerful weapons.

Eofar, the son of the dying governor, doesn't think of the Shadari as a backward and worthless people like his sister Frea does--even having gone so far as to fall in love with one of them. Their sister Isa trains at the sword so one day she'll be as ruthless as her sister, but is treated like a child.

Daryan would have been the Shadari king if the Norlanders hadn't invaded, but after living as a temple slave he doesn't believe he has what it takes to lead the rebellion his friend Harotha has in mind--that is until she disappears suddenly and is feared dead.

Jachad is the King of the Nomas, which is more a nominal title than anything resembling authority. He follows around the Mongrel, a woman of mysterious origins with serious battle skills and a knowledge of the future.

BLOOD'S PRIDE is Evie Manieri's first novel in a new epic fantasy series called Shattered Kingdoms. Let's start with what she has going for her. Manieri has some interesting ideas, in particular the Norlanders, who come from, I'm assuming, a cold and dark place. In the Shadar, which is a desert, they can only come out at night, or else the direct rays of the sun burns them. They aren't vampires, but still are a very different race.

Manieri has some other interesting ideas about the different cultures and the power plays between them. She has a vision of an epic struggle between the races, with the powerful but young boy Dramash at the center of it all. I can see what she's trying to do with that vision, I can see all the elements that she lays down in her book for that purpose...but unfortunately she can't quite pull it off. She just hasn't quite pegged the skill set necessary to write the story of the magnitude she's attempting here.

So what's wrong with it, you ask?

For starters the characters weren't likable, the main reason being I didn't have time to get very deep into the PoV personalities. The genre calls for many characters, certainly, but the author has to spend time with them, and Manieri moves the story along at such a breakneck speed, we learn too little about them. Perhaps it's because of where the novel starts in medias res that we don't have time to become attached to them (for example, I had a hard time believing the love stories between characters--why do they love each other? I just don't know); unfortunately they continue to be shallow and uninspiring clear to the end.

While Manieri lays out an epic plot line, the story felt like she wrote a bunch of important scenes and then went back to fill in the rest with much less enthusiasm. The result is a novel that moves too fast with awkward transitions. There are serious leaps in logic, particularly in the dialogue, that only serve to move the plot forward, but don't make sense, mostly because we lack too much crucial information. At other times back story gets infodumped. I may need to see my doctor for a case of whiplash.

Not only do we not get a lot of information about the characters and the plot, but the setting is shallow, as well. Remember the little boy Dramash, the one who's central to the plot? Well, he has magic powers. We aren't sure what they are, he kinda just makes stuff happen. Are there limits to his powers? Where did they come from? Why does he have them? Why don't others have them when a generation ago more than one person did? The magic is important to the climax of the book and yet we don't understand it. Sorry, that doesn't fly here at EBR.

Manieri had an idea, one that might have been really cool. Alas, she couldn't do what the story needed to flesh it out and really make it the epic fantasy she wants it to be.

Recommended age: 14+
Language: None that I remember, maybe a couple
Violence: Yes, a fair amount, but not particularly graphic
Sex: A vaguely detailed scene

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