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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

“Blood’s Pride” by Evie Manieri (Reviewed by Sabine Gueneret)

Order “Blood’s PrideHERE (US) + HERE (UK)
Read An Excerpt HERE
Read Civilian Reader’s Interview With Evie Manieri HERE

INTRODUCTION: Blood’s Pride from debut author Evie Manieri, is one of the big books on Jo Fletcher’s autumn list, and part of the “Fletcher’s Five” for 2012 according to Fantasy Faction along with Alison Littlewood’s A Cold Season (Review to come soon), The City’s Son by Tom Pollock (Reviewed HERE), David Hair’s Mage Blood (coming soon!) and Irenicon by Aidan Harte (Reviewed HERE).

I must admit I didn’t know what to expect from Blood’s Pride since the title and blurb sounded quite mysterious to me, so Evie Manieri’s debut was a most pleasant surprise as the book turned out to be a very good adventure and fairly original story, all told in a fresh new voice...

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Evie Manieri graduated from Wesleyan University with a degree in Mediaeval History and Theatre, disciplines that continue to influence her work in about equal measure. She is enthralled by intricacy, and when not weaving together the threads of her plots, she can be found knitting airy lace shawls and singing soprano with New York's Renaissance Street Singers. Evie lives with her family in New York.

FORMAT/INFO: Blood’s Pride is 388 pages long and is the first volume of the Shattered Kingdoms series. August 30, 2012 marked the UK Hardcover/Paperback publication of Blood’s Pride via Jo Fletcher Books. The US version (see below) will be published on February 13, 2013 via Tor. US cover art is provided by Kekai Kotaki.

OFFICIAL PLOT SYNOPSIS: A generation has passed since the Norlanders' great ships bore down on Shadar, and the Dead Ones slashed and burned the city into submission, enslaving the Shadari people. Now the Norlander governor is dying and, as his three alienated children struggle against the crushing isolation of their lives, the Shadari rebels spot their opening and summon the Mongrel, a mysterious mercenary warrior who has never yet lost a battle. But her terms are unsettling: she will name her price only after the Norlanders have been defeated. A single question is left for the Shadari: is there any price too high for freedom?

ANALYSIS: As described by Jo Fletcher herself, Evie Manieri is a very unusual new voice in fantasy. The writing is certainly very interesting, with short, concise sentences that beautifully depicts the intense course of action and the hardness of life in the Shadar (the desert where the action takes place). To provide an example of the author’s writing style, I’ve included the following extract from the Prologue, which showcases the dramatic impact of Evie Manieri’s ability to draw the reader into her strange, brutal world:

“The fisherman stood on the beach, brandishing the spear that he had used countless of times to pluck food from the waters; now it had tasted blood of a different kind. The fisherman gazed up at the temple, flushed with hope as he picked out the white-robed figures gathered on the roof, standing in a line along the edge high above the beach, lit by the moonlight for all to see. The bedraggled defenders raised a cheer, and fists were brandished in triumph.

When the first body plunged into the sea, sending up a column of white foam, the fisherman blinked. When the second body fell his eyes opened wide, and he stared in horror. The ashas – their protectors – were killing themselves.”

Some reviewers have compared Blood’s Pride to Trudi Canavan in terms of prose, yet I would not be too quick in comparing Evie Manieri’s voice to any particular writer. Blood’s Pride is a truly original work in many ways – and this cannot be stressed enough as it does not happen as often as I would like!

In terms of characters, Blood’s Pride doesn’t disappoint either. Admittedly, I found the characters (especially the Norlanders such as Rho) annoyingly simple at first, but I was proved wrong after a while. In reality, all of the main characters, and many of the secondary characters, are multi-layered and subtle, with complex motives. This is actually another great strength of the book: nothing is what it seems as Evie Manieri is very good at manipulating readers one way before twisting things around in the opposite direction.

This ability to keep readers on their toes gives birth to an intricate and interesting storyline full of the unexpected. With so many characters, each with their own many different hidden motives, it is impossible to foresee where the plot is going, which means you’re in for more than a surprise! On the downside, every time the narrative switches between one of five different POVs, there is a small jump forward in time. Considering the complexity of the story, this can be confusing for the reader as it feels like you missed some of the action! Then again, maybe I’m just too used to flashbacks and over explanations, because I can’t deny that these jumps infuse Blood’s Pride with a dynamic feel.

I also really liked Evie Manieri’s world-building, which distils information little by little in the course of action, until you are fully immerged in the Shadar. A side effect of this styling choice is that it takes longer to get into the world, especially for a fantasy novel, yet the action is so gripping that before I realised it, the Shadar had became real to me.

CONCLUSION: Evie Manieri’s Blood Pride is a dashing first novel, highlighted by an intricate plot well served by complex and unpredictable characters, and an overall delectable theatrical quality that sets the book apart from many other fantasy works. Granted, the history of the Shadari is a bit shallow in this opening volume, and many questions remain unanswered, but with the big picture promised in future books, the sequel, Fortune’s Blight, cannot come out soon enough...


Jack Norris said...

I just bought this book with a few others. I am starting to worry about this book though. Is it YA? Sometimes this isn't made clear enough. I made the mistake of buying a couple of Canavan books and found them very simple. There is nothing wrong with a good YA, Harry potter is one of my favorite series ever. maybe it's because I didn't expect the canavan books to be YA that I am judging them so harshly. I don't even know if they are officially classed as YA. If not then I am shocked. This is just a really long way to get back to my original question which is, is Blood's Pride a Young Adult novel?

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