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- Print Length: 323 pages
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- Language: English
- ASIN: B07JN26KK8
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Blood of Heirs (The Coraidic Sagas Book 1) Kindle Edition
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"...solid writing, real characters that you'll end up rooting for, excitement, moments of genuine pathos, and a young girl getting stabby - very likely to please." - Mark Lawrence, author of The Broken Empire, The Red Queen's War, and The Book of the Ancestor trilogies
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Blood of Heirs follows two main characters: Ran, the son of a Duke who goes from failed commander to hero to outcast in the space of a day because he accidentally acquired some magical powers. Whoops. The other main character, Lidan, is the daughter and heir to a clan chief. As her father has no sons, she’s in a position where she might be the first ever female clan chief and is constantly pushing to be taught how to be a ranger and how to fight.
Both Ran and Lidan face interesting challenges as they upset the mold for how the heirs of their respective societies should be. Ran’s story is mostly a survival quest and we follow him as he tries to escape the noose that his sorcery has brought upon him. Meanwhile, Lidan faces challenges in her clan. Her mother is determined for her to be the heir, she’s the eldest daughter, but that might all change if one of the chief’s other wives births a son. Lidan must prove that she has what it takes to be the first female leader the clan has ever seen. Both characters are really compelling, and you can’t help but cheer them on.
Another great thing in Blood of Heirs is the worldbuilding. Both MCs are in different parts of the world, with different social structures, and different levels of development. Ran’s duchy is quite advanced: it’s medieval era, with swords, siege weapons, and much more. Meanwhile, Lidan’s clan is the only one to have progressed beyond stone weapons, and even then they’ve only just been discovered and are fairly rare. What I really love about this is that the author shows that different areas of the world have different levels of technological advancement, something which I rarely see in my fantasy novels.
Overall, I really loved Blood of Heirs and am excited for all my friends to read it and for the sequels. Would highly recommend it to people who enjoy:
Alas, we have so much more to talk about! The main characters are about what you'd expect from a good, solid opening novel, but the grimdark elements and obvious research that's been put into these characters and their environs turns it up to 100.
We've got Lidan, a perfect picture of a girl fighting tooth-and-nail for her place in a man's world, and who I absolutely cannot wait to see more of. Then there's Ran, who has absolutely no bloody idea what he's doing (but trying his best), an interesting start to what I feel will be a fantastic character. Then you throw in some terrifying monsters who are the sole reason I'll probably never go bushwalking again and some seriously A+ battle scenes, and you've got the perfect story.
All in all, Blood of Heirs is a fierce debut by Aussie author Alicia Wanstall-Burke, and I'm already counting down to the next one.
As with any good story ‘The Blood of Heirs’ leaves the reader with as many questions as it answers, and I can’t wait to read more. Bring on book two!
Top international reviews
This is pretty much the expectation now, but it bothers me personally because I grow tired of stories that force me to wait before reaching a conclusion, but of course there are others who prefer ten-book sagas and I think they would enjoy this.
Overall, while it was light on plot this book did a good job of building the threat of the monstrous creatures that haunted the lands of both the main characters. Their development, from unexplained random accidents at first to the creepy hints and attacks later on to the realizations of what these creatures might be was very well-done.
On the other hand there are a few things that bothered me:
- Lidan did not seem like a 12 year old and her story got nowhere at all for the first 3/4 of the book
- Lidan's mother was unnecessarily psychotic and -while reasons and backstory were hinted at- her treatment of her daughter, especially before we knew them at all, seriously strained my immersion in the whole story
- Random f-words every other paragraph
- The coding in this book, while subtle and probably completely unintentional, also bugged me. There's a lot of it and it permeates the world-building. It also makes the world hard to separate from some kind of version (or vision) of our world. When you compare the tech levels and appearances and lifestyles of the people who live in the North compared to those who live in the South it's all very reminiscent of stereotypical representations of peoples and cultures on Earth. The biggest one that jumped out at me was the representations of how the different societies treat their women. All I'm going to say is that if you're going to try to make your fantasy have feminist themes then don't go the lazy and extremely tired and tiring route of setting up a society that's based on a culture different from yours in order to criticize how you think their gender roles are set up. Like I said, it's lazy and so overused.
- Finally, while the monster set-up was really, really well-done I felt the epilogue at the end to try and reveal enough about them before the second installment was really a weak way to end it. The story itself was very creepy and everything, just the way it was revealed felt rushed.
You may have noticed my "issues" are mostly nitpicks. The book is good overall and, for those who like series it's sure to be a great pick. I probably would have given this book a 4 or maybe even a 5 if it had been a complete story rather than the start to a trilogy. As it was I felt it didn't need to be that long.
First there’s LIDAN, first daughter to the sonless daari (chieftain) in a clan where birth order determines status. All she wants is to break in her horse, Theus, and fight alongside the rangers of her clan.
“One day she would be allowed to go with them. One day…”
Only problem is her mother, SELLAN, has other plans.
“‘Lidan, you were born of a dana and a daari.’ Her voice was calm, even kind, but the pressure of her fine hands and her unflinching scowl left Lidan in no doubt. Sellan never made threats—she made promises. ‘You are not some shit-flecked horse herder. You are not a scrub digger. You are not a rider or a fighter. No daughter of mine will ever be a ranger, be they a first or minor daughter.”
A real ice queen, eh? Like a true Disney villain (in a good way) she’s also got a crone sidekick to match (dubbed the Crone) whose sorcerous prowess unnerves much of the clan. Sellan would’ve been one of my favorite characters if not for the fact that her treatment of Lidan runs counter to her motivations of putting her daughter on the Red Coretree Throne.
In “a clan of hotheads who attacked their problems with spears rather than reason,” I’d assume that horseriding would play a significant role in determining one’s authority and power. From a sociological level, chieftains of such communities are usually “strongmen/women” with the most of a primary resource and capable of defending it. Why, then, would Lidan prevent her daughter from doing something that would benefit them both in the long run?
Credit to Wanstall-Burke, she points this out in a Lidan chapter, “The woman wanted her daughter to be the heir, but without risk-taking or danger, without training or ranging. Lidan knew such a thing was impossible.”
Still, for someone as calculating as Lidan, someone who’s kept herself above water amidst her ambitious co-wives, her failure to accept Lidan’s horseriding struck me as an empty obstacle that doesn’t reflect her character. Then again, I could be overlooking how her culture (different from the clan itself) and background (alluded by the Crone to be quite nightmarish) influence her decision to restrain her daughter. Anyway, moving on to the other PoV character, who gets roughly an equal number of chapters.
Quick to swear and even quicker when thinking on his feet, RANOTH the Black Prince, (no, not Edward of Woodstock) is the firstborn son of an autocratic duke far away from the lands of Lidan’s clan. But being a noble scion isn’t all waltzes and harps. A lot of the time it means battle, and the Orthians have been waging war against the Woaden “long before they were even a dirty thought in their fathers’ minds.”
Even though Ranoth and Lidan are worlds away from each other, the inverses and parallels between their characters create a bond of sorts. In terms of inverses, Lidan wants desperately to be a hero whereas Ranoth thinks those shoes are a few sizes too big and is forced to wear them anyway. Neither character can help who he or she is - Lidan being a girl instead of a clear male heir, and Ranoth being a… well, I don’t want to spoil anything.
Setting details are excellent in some areas and lacking in others. I particularly love the descriptions of the Tolak Range:
“Behind the village, the Caine loomed high, carved by wind and rain to the shape of a wild dog’s tooth, glowing orange in the light of the setting sun. Hummel lay at its base, a settlement where grassland met rock in a collection of a hundred or so grey and brown buildings, stone and timber, most with lilac smoke rising from their thatched roofs.”
The pulley-lift system of elevators in Ranoth’s family palace also intrigued me. I like how Wanstall-Burke used it to help characterize Ranoth’s dad, who challenges himself by walking up the stairs as an alternative. It reminded me a bit of Tywin Lannister’s habit of preparing his own food.
I would’ve liked more description of the urban area that surrounds the palace itself, however. Same with the countryside after Ranoth leaves the palace.
I also enjoyed the undertone of horror conveyed by the monsters that threaten both PoV characters. Called ngaru by Lidan’s clan, they’re, “Black creatures in the forms of men, with weapons of iron…”
Another quote: “The creature’s top lip curled back to reveal a row of broken, decaying teeth with only the ancestors-knew-what wedged between them, rotting there since its last meal.”
The creepiness of the ngaru plus the isolation of Lidan’s clan gave me chills reminiscent of The Village, one of my favorite atmospheric horrors.
My main complaint is the pacing. Lidan’s chapters seem to slog along the plot points. Whenever something big does happen, the consequences never really inflict longterm effects. Meanwhile Ranoth’s chapters seem to jog along by contrast (fair, given the subject matter/tension), and sometimes I wish the author woulld slow down in spots to supply detail (as with the city mentioned earlier).
Lastly I think this novel could’ve used a few more rounds of edits. I highlighted the crap out of the first few pages because I liked so many of the excerpts, but the quality of the prose kinda dwindles and plateaus after a while. It’s still fine, but not as good as the promise made in the first few pages. For example there’s some spelling errors:
“...her mother’s distain for Farah and her father’s disregard of Sellan’s wishes…”
“Sellan never made threats—she made promises.”
“Her mother never made threads, only promises.”
But overall I think this series if off to a promising start. 3.5 Stars.
There are a great many things I like about Wanstall-Burke’s debut, foremost amongst them is the excellent pacing. This is a story that doesn’t let up. The narrative grips readers from the first couple chapters and doesn’t let go until the end. Sometimes, with this sort of pacing, books can feel a little shallow. I didn’t have that sense at all from Blood of Heirs, however. There is quite a bit of depth in this book, particularly for the two main characters, Lindan and Ranoth. While their narratives remain separate throughout the book, both characters are believable and at moments you ache for both. Wanstall-Burke has done an excellent job using the two as foils for one another, telling separate coming-of-age stories that have similarities but also stark and interesting differences. It’s hard enough to tell a single young-person-finds-their-way-in-the-world tale that feels fresh, to tell two in the same book is quite impressive and deserves accolades. I know I’m emotionally invested in a book not only when I grow to love the protagonists but when I have a visceral, negative reaction to the antagonists or other characters. I definitely had those sorts of reactions while reading Blood of Heirs.
There are a few elements of this novel that didn’t hit for me though. Before we get to those, I want to quickly share that there are depictions of physical and psychological abuse of a child that some readers may have difficulty with. The abuse makes sense as part of both the child and other character’s backstory, and it isn’t grotesque, but it does exist as an essential aspect of the plot. While I can’t criticize or call this a weakness, it did affect the way I received the novel. As for what didn’t work for me, I felt like the two main characters acted older than their stated ages. One main character is twelve, the other fifteen, but to me they felt more like fifteen and eighteen. It’s hard to write main characters in a non-YA book that are young, and I don’t think Wanstall-Burke was quite able to nail their characterization vis-à-vis their ages. I’m not sure why simply increasing their respective ages wasn’t an option during the composition process. I also found a key bit of the plot in Ranoth’s story, having to do with something he refuses to do for much of the book, wasn’t adequately explained.
Blood of Heirs is a gritty, dark coming-of-age tale that doesn’t give you much time to catch your breath. There are depictions of psychological and physical abuse that one ought to be aware of going in. For me, the raw nature of the characters emotions is what really makes this novel hit. This one is worth your time. I’ll be grabbing the sequel. 4/5 stars.
5 – I loved this, couldn’t put it down, move it to the top of your TBR pile
4 – I really enjoyed this, add it to the TBR pile
3 – It was ok, depending on your preferences it may be worth your time
2 – I didn’t like this book, it has significant flaws and I can’t recommend it
1 – I loathe this book with a most loathsome loathing
The story tells the tale of two major characters, Lidan, the eldest daughter to a chief of one of the tribal horseclans inhabiting the Southern Lands, and Ran, the son of a nobleman of powerful city to the north. Both are thrust into conflicts with family and a shadowy evil that threatens the lands . Each must make life altering decisions that could change the course of all around them.
The book is very well paced, with groups of chapters switching between Ran and Lidan and their stories, great action and sweeping scenery descriptions keep the pages turning . The books ending definitely presages the action to come and I couldn't help but hear a powerful sweeping score as I read the last sentence, a la the original Star Wars. Alicia's passion for her craft definitely shines through in her debut novel, hoping for many more wondrous stories from her. Recommended highly
I really enjoyed meeting both the main characters and their respective clans; and their position in the clan allowed for a different dynamic to the beginning of the book than I would usually find in a fantasy novel. The writing style was excellent and I found that I was smiling to myself towards the end when I considered the presence of metal weapons "awe inspiring". A real credit to the author.
There is the secret of "what's written in the scroll" that follows you throughout most of the book and I was pleasantly surprised when, not only did I not guess what it was, but had a little fist pump moment when it was eventually revealed.
... and as with most well written fantasy series, my only real criticism is that I now have to wait to read the next book in a series that I have so far thoroughly enjoyed :-)