- A Time of Blood (Of Blood and Bone #2).
- John Gwynne.
- 496 pages.
- Fantasy / Grimdark.
- My Rating: Hell Yeah Book Review.
Defy the darkness. Defend the light . . .
At the battle of Starstone Lake, Drem and his friends witnessed horrors they’ll never forget. They saw magic warping men into beasts and a demon rise from the dead, creating something new and terrifying. So they flee to warn the Order of the Bright Star. But the demons’ high priestess, Fritha, is determined to hunt them down.
Concealed in Forn Forest, Riv struggles to understand her half-breed lineage. It represents the warrior angels’ most dangerous secret, so when their high captain tracks her down, he aims to kill.
Meanwhile, demonic forces are gathering a mighty war-host, to crush their enemies and rule the world of man. And the angels are already fractured and facing betrayal. Like heroes of old, Riv, Drem and the Bright Star’s warriors must battle to save their land. But can the light triumph when the dark is rising?
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
A Time of Blood starts a day after the gripping and emotional climax of A Time of Dread building, expanding upon the foundations that were cemented in the first book and raising the stakes. The Of Blood and Bone trilogy sees the continuation of the endless war between the Ben-Elim, the protectors of humanity and the Kadoshim who are once more moving across the Banished Lands having been in hiding. Lurking in the shadows, watching, waiting, plotting, planning and building their number in preparation, getting ready to strike in anticipation of bringing their plan to take over and rule the Banished Lands to fruition.
Once again there are four PoV characters, Drem, Riv and Bleda all return from A Time of Dread and then, the fourth point-of-view comes from Fritha, who featured in A Time of Dread and has now been promoted to a PoV role in A Time of Blood.
The world-building in A Time of Blood is fantastic and you can easily picture the settings where the story takes place in your mind whilst reading. The fabled Giant’s fortress of Drassil, Dun Seren, home to the Order of the Bright Star, the Desolation, the Bonefells and Forn forest all come to life on the pages in cinematic style. The Banished Lands is a world with a history where the legends of old, of the past, are still remembered and revered, where their deeds are still felt and have shaped the present. Those legends, the heroes of old, the characters from Gwynne’s previous series The Faithful and the Fallen. Where, if you have read that series the mere mention of those names will have you remembering and will bring out pangs of emotion in you.
The characters in A Time of Blood all continue to grow. That growth feels natural to the characters and the adversity that they endure, the trials, tribulations and the hard times that they face. There’s a complexity to them, their traits are relatable and they feel real. They struggle with themselves, they are not superhuman, they are fallible, they make mistakes, they have conflicted motivations, doubts and wars raging within them internally. The relationships between them develop, bonds have been forged and friendships made (in some cases animosity and enemies too). You find yourself caring about them, fearing for their fates, rooting for them to fight on and willing them to survive.
I will say that you also care about the animals featured. The companions of certain characters are so well written that they are more than just ‘animals’ and they are, in their own right characters who are important to the other characters, to the story and to the reader too.
Out of the four PoV characters, Drem is my favourite and I found myself reading his chapters with an extra relish and enthusiasm. His shortcomings, what he thinks are his weaknesses, they aren’t, they set him apart, making him who he is and the hero that us readers know he will be.
There is plenty of bloody, brutal, heart-pounding and visceral action in A Time of Blood. From small scale skirmishes through to large scale battles against a variety of foes and fell creatures. All engagements have a heft, a weight to them and make for edge-of-your-seat reading. Mesmerising, bone-jarring and chaotic battle scenes where the sounds of battle, the thrum of the bowstring, the pounding of horses hooves, the clash of swords, the screams of anguish, the grunts of pain, the shouting of war cries, all emanate from off the pages and transport you onto the field of battle.
On the surface, the story is a tale of good vs evil. But, beneath the surface, it is so much more. There is a depth to the multi-faceted story, the lines between good and evil are blurred, murky, the water clouded and, on both sides, things aren’t always as clear cut as they might, at first appear to be. Remember, history might well be written by the victors but it also changes depending on who is doing the recounting of events with some shining a light on themselves instead of what really happened.
A Time of Blood is a fitting name for the book as much blood is split during the course of the story. It is an exciting book to read, fast-paced and rousing with chapters that often end on cliffhangers, hooks that reach in, grab you and make you want to keep reading, to find out what happens next. Gwynne is a master storyteller who effortlessly draws you into his world and the unfolding story that he is telling. There are contemplative, reflective and quieter moments interspersed with intense action, betrayal, revelations and a tangible air of foreboding to the story. An ominous air, a dark atmosphere that follows the characters and seems to cloak the world in a shroud as you know that everything is leading to a climactic conclusion and what an absolutely stunning conclusion it is!
The last portion of A Time of Blood is almost relentless action with myriad battles taking place and it was with deep regret that I turned the final page as I longed more and I didn’t want the book to end. The ending sequence is absolutely phenomenal and the book ends with a massive cliffhanger, one that leaves you hanging by a tantalising thread, dangling over the precipice of the cliff as you grab and grasp, reaching out and all the while cursing the ending. But, at the same time loving the climax, the ending and the emotion that it makes you feel. Finding yourself waiting with bated breath, clawing to hold on until the third and final book in the trilogy is released and you can finally find out what happens next.
I have nothing bad to say, no negatives at all. Simply, A Time of Blood is magnificent, it is Gwynne at his sensational best, as close to perfection as you can get and another masterpiece by a master of the genre.
Purchase A Time of Blood (Of Blood and Bone #2).
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