Blog Archive

View My Stats
Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"The Blood King" by Gail Z. Martin

Official Gail Z. Martin Website
Order “The Blood KingHERE
Read Excerpts HERE + HERE
Watch the Book Trailer Video HERE

Last January, Solaris Books debuted with two titles—“The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction” and Gail Z. Martin’sThe Summoner”. Since then, “The Summoner” has gone on to become one of Solaris Books’ most successful releases and the publisher hopes to recapture that magic in 2008 with “The Blood King” (Release Date: January 29, 2008), which completes the story arc that began in Ms. Martin’s debut.

Now for me, I enjoyed reading “The Summoner” despite the fact that it was a highly conventional, family-friendly epic fantasy tale that didn’t really offer anything fresh or thought-provoking which I covered in my review
HERE. That said, the book was entertaining enough that I came back for seconds and “The Blood King” delivered about what I was expecting it to which is one of those good news/bad news scenarios…

The good new is if you were a fan of “The Summoner” then you’re going to like “The Blood King” since it offers more of the same. Meaning, more fast-paced sword-and-sorcery action, more adventure, more ghosts & vampires, more romance, more heroism, more near-death escapes, and more fantasy tropes ;) Specifically, the story picks up one day after the end of “The Summoner” and starts with Martris Drayke and friends as they put together a plan to overthrow Tris’ evil half-brother Jared the Usurper, regain the throne of Margolan, and stop the fire mage Foor Arontala from raising the Obsidian King. Basically, the plan consists of Tris mastering his Summoner skills with the help of the Sisterhood; Ban Soterius raising an army of Margolan refugees and defectors; convincing the vayash moru to help in their cause, and Kiara & Vahanian learning how to rockclimb so they can infiltrate the palace of Shekerishet; all before the rising of the Hawthorne Moon which is when the Obsidian King can be released.

Of this storyline, I personally enjoyed Tris’ training because we get to learn more about a Summoner and their abilities which offered some interesting elements like the Court of Spirits, using ghosts as a weapon, resolving otherwise unsettled conflicts, etc. I also enjoyed meeting the Blood Council and digging a little deeper into the world of the vayash moru, although in reality they are basically just your typical vampires. Regarding other subplots, Vahanian’s history comes back to haunt him in more ways than one, Tris has to deal with the unwanted responsibilities of both his power and a prince, Carina must let go of her past, potential romances blossom, traitors abound as do assassins, and secrets are revealed about Bava K’aa and Tris’ heritage. Along the way, we’ll also run into plenty of old friends as well as some new faces…

While “The Blood King” is essentially cut from the same cloth as “The Summoner”—similar tone, prose, pacing and whatnot—I have to commend Ms. Martin for her improved characterization. Even though the story once again alternates between multiple viewpoints including Tris, Vahanian, Soterius and Carina, the author demonstrates much better balance this time around between all of the POVs while also offering deeper character analyses. Sure, it’s still not anywhere close to the level of Robin Hobb or Jacqueline Carey, but the improvements are noticeable. I’d also like to mention the symmetry between the two books. Where “The Summoner” was mainly about Tris and company escaping from Margolan, “The Blood King” finds the heroes returning on a similar path back to Margolan and the palace of Shekerishet, which is where everything started and where the first story arc concludes. Not groundbreaking I know, but I just thought it was a nice touch :)

Now for the bad news. Essentially, “The Blood King” is just more of the same. As predictable and clichéd as “The Summoner” was, there was at least a lot of potential for Ms. Martin to surprise her readers in “The Blood King”. Unfortunately, the author never breaks away from convention and the novel ended almost exactly the way I thought it would, which was disappointing. Besides that, I just had a few nitpicks. For one, the ‘Battle Trials’ reminded me a lot of Luke Skywalker’s training with Yoda from The Empire Strikes Back. Also, we never actually get to see Tris complete his training. I kept expecting to read about some ‘ultimate challenge’ that Tris had to pass in order to know that he was ready to face Arontala, but instead we were just left hanging in that part of the story. Thirdly, there was a scene that takes place late in the book between Ban and his family, which I found annoying. Mainly, why was he never worried about his family before or didn’t think to use Tris’ power to see how they were doing? Lastly, the tone of the novel was just too light-hearted in areas. I mean, there are some really terrible things happening under Jared’s tyrannical rule which could make for some powerful reading, as well as the dramatic inner struggles that some of the characters are dealing with, but because of the cheery optimism you never really take it seriously…

Overall I had about the same experience reading “The Blood King” as I did “The Summoner”. The book had its issues like Gail Z. Martin’s debut, but the author showed improvement in a couple of areas, and of course it was nice to see the story come to a conclusion even if I knew what was going to happen in advance :) Plus, the next story arc should be interesting, especially if it deals with the vayash moru like the title “Dark Haven” suggests. In short, I’d recommend “The Blood King” to anyone who enjoyed “The Summoner”, but would warn newcomers that the Chronicles of the Necromancer is not for readers who like their fantasy dark, challenging and unpredictable…

0 comments:

Follow by Email

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “The Burning Isle” by Will Panzo!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “The Diabolic” by S.J. Kincaid!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “A Gossamer Lens” by M.R. Mathias!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “Lost Gods” by Brom!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “The Blood Mirror” by Brent Weeks!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “The Wall of Storms” by Ken Liu!!!
Order HERE