Review: Blood’s Pride by Evie Manieri
Published September 1st 2012 by Jo Fletcher
Review copy provided by the publisher
When I was fourteen, I absolutely loved fantasy books. I read Terry Goodkind’s tomes back to back, and basically finished all epic fantasy books in our library. Enter Goodreads and blogging. I fell in love with urban fantasy, then with paranormal romance, and then with YA. Fantasy books went forgotten and gathered dust. Blood’s Pride is the first straight up fantasy book I have read in years.
Blood’s Pride is set in the Shadar, a desert city next to the sea. Towering over the city is a temple, which used to belong to the Shadari asha’s (kind of magic priests). Then the Dead Ones (called Norlanders) came, and made the Shadari into slaves. The book follows a whole cast of characters throughout a rebellion, intrigue and all kinds of people that have more powers than previously thought.
Blood’s Pride has a shit-ton of characters. Like, for the first six chapters, you feel as if every chapter you’re in someone else’s head, completely unrelated to the previous character. No longer used to the brain capacity fantasy requires to keep track of the world, I struggled. Ms Manieri takes the fantasy book away from the Western-orientated medieval style. This also implicates that she doesn’t adhere to the standard naming in fantasy, which is usually some prettified version of a Western name (like Petyr or Peeta from Peter). For my untrained ear the names of the Shadari sounded Arabic, like Jachad, Harotha, Faroth and Dramash. On one hand I’m full of praise for the author for taking this setting to the next level with realistic naming, on the other hand it’s so hard to remember them. I kept confusing Dramash and Daryan, even though they are completely different characters (one is a kid, one is a man-slave).
Reading the first hundred pages of Blood’s Pride can be summed up with the word confusion. It took me a long while to start forming a mental image of the Shadar and its inhabitants, and to keep track of what was actually going on. I think it might have been better if there had been a bit less characters. The switching point of views are forced in the beginning of the book. It gets smoother once you pass the half-way mark, but this is way too far in for most readers to wait it out.
The main strength of Blood’s Pride is it’s originality. We all know the fantasy story of the boy that finds a sword/dragon/magic book. Blood’s Pride offers a more grown up and complicated form of fantasy which deals with themes of slavery and suppression in a non-condemning way. There are plenty of good Norlander characters (oppressors), just as there are plenty of bad Shadari (slaves). Though the book takes place in the small bubble of the Shadar, it seems as if after the happenings of the book, we will discover more of the world in the second book, Fortune’s Blight. It also promises more court intruige, which is one of my favourite subjects in fantasy.
Blood’s Pride is not an easy, breezy read. It will take some effort, especially in the beginning. However, I would recommend it for the more hardcore fantasy fans that want some more originality in their stories. The story line promises to become pretty epic in the next book.
A generation has passed since that bloogy night when the Norlanders’ great ships bore down on the Shadar, and from the backs of their great flying beasts, the ‘Dead Ones’ slashed and burned the desert city into submission. Now the enslaved Shadari toil in the mines for the increasingly rare black ore, the Norlanders’ greatest prize.
The Norlander governor is dying, and his three alienated children struggle against the crushing isolation of their lives in the desert. Eofar, the eldest, searches desperately for the runaway Shadari slave who will soon give birth to his child. His fiercely ambitious sister Frea, her perfect face hidden beneath a silver wolf’s helm, works the helpless slaves to death to further her interests at the far-off Norland court. And Isa, the youngest, tries to mould herself into the epitome of the icy northern warrior, though she knows nothing but the burning sands.
Into this world strolls the Mongrel, summoned by the Shadari rebels to lead their bid for freedom. Her terms are unusual – and unsettling: she will name her reaward only after the Norlanders have been defeated. Her presence is like an acid, stripping away the lies of the past, and bonds of blood and race are shattered, only to be replaced by new and unexpected alliances.