Bloodsworn by Nathan Long – Advance Review [Lord of the Night]
Lord of the Night reviews the thrilling third novel in the Ulrika the Vampire series, Bloodsworn by Nathan Long.
“A swashbuckling and bloodsucking tale that will engross the reader from start to finish, a glorious finale to the story that began in Bloodborn.” – The Founding Fields.
Its been good to read a Warhammer book, as there’s been a lot of 40k on my metaphorical plate, and Bloodsworn I think was an ideal novel to read before taking a break from Black Library and reading some of the other series I own. Now onto the review.
Arriving in Nuln on the eve of war Ulrika quickly finds that her former sisters in the Lahmian Bloodline are not as welcoming as she might have hoped. Reminded of their callous attitudes and dishonourable behaviour Ulrika escapes captivity to bring the war to Sylvania, who have come to the Empire to murder its Emperor Karl Franz and give birth to an empire of the night, ruled by the children of darkness. But as Ulrika immerses herself in war and trickery she finds herself trapped between those who want her dead and those who want to use her. She will have to decide what she will become – a protector of mankind, or their enemy.
The story of Bloodsworn was quite a surprise to me. Of course somethings I did expect but that was through what I knew of some of the characters rather than story predictability. And of course some elements surprised me greatly, chiefly how the story closed. I greatly enjoyed the tale that Bloodsworn tells and its many elements of betrayal, trust, the failings of humanity, and the nature of Vampires. Plenty of twists keep this story impossible to predict, apart from the very obvious fact that Karl Franz isn’t going to die due to having Named Immunity. But that doesn’t detract from the novel and the story features plenty of characters whose fates cannot be forseen,
Bloodsworn features many old and new characters. Of course we have Ulrika who has not changed from the last two novels, still behaving honourably and hating the cloistered life of a Lahmian. Others include the Countess Gabriella whose love for Ulrika is undimmed, the petulant Mistress Hermione, and Ulrika’s dear friend Famke who all play roles in the story from small to important. New characters range from Lahmians and the Sylvanians like the preening Emmerich von Graal, the intelligent and calculating Count Grigor von Messinghof, and the stalwart Ostermark Sergeant Stahleker. I personally enjoyed the Sylvanian side far more than the Lahmians due to the variety of the Sylvanians and the fact that the Lahmians as a group of Vampires just bore the absolute hell out of me, I just dislike them. And I particularly enjoyed the two special characters later in the novel, one of which was not at all how I expected him to be.
The battles are the fast-paced and varied fighting scenes that we can expect in any good Vampire novel. Plenty of sword clashing alongside zombies, wight knights, Vampiric swordsmen and undead monstrosities loping alongside them. Bloodsworn does a very nice job of variety, from the Vampire in-fighting to the actual battles against the Empire each battle is interesting and doesn’t fail to keep the reader engaged. For me it was easy to pick a side to root for, Sylvania! – but for others it may not be as easy as each side is written very nicely and not all share my dislike of the Lahmians. And of course Ulrika kicks ass, both living and undead, with her rapier-and-dagger combo as usual, and a very nice weapon that comes into play midway through the story.
The pacing is quite nice. The novel can feel a bit slow at some times but I felt that was more personal for me and not a problem with the book, my dislike of the Lahmians just made me want to get through their parts. And there can be quite a bit of travel in the book but its usually interesting, and the rest of the book moves along at a good pace while the battles move at vampiric speed and you can really get a sense of how quickly a Vampire moves through battle and takes life. Spread across 35 named, which is always an improvement in any book, chapters that are each of a good length, Bloodsworn is an enjoyable and easy novel to read.
Now for my favourite quote of the novel. I enjoyed this one the most, for its context and the surprise that it was uttered at all, and by the person who said it.
“I gave my word. I will be true to it. Let her go.”
The ending is one of the things I did not expect. Any fan of Gotrek and Felix knows that Ulrika will return to the Lahmians and become more like them, which is something I do not look forward to and is one of the reasons I was so slow in reading this novel. Well it was certainly not what I expected i’ll say that much, and I suspect that Bloodsworn is merely the end of the beginning. Ulrika’s true journey has yet to begin, and I cannot wait to see where that journey will take her.
For its great conclusion to a trilogy of novels, interesting characters and for setting Ulrika up for even more adventures I give Bloodsworn a score of 8.5/10, a great score for the end of a trilogy and while it didn’t rank as highly as Bloodforged the gap between them is not very high, I just enjoyed Bloodforged a bit more than I did Bloodsworn.
Should you buy this book? To any fans of Gotrek and Felix I would say yes, this series carries on very nicely from that famous duo and I eagerly await the day that Ulrika and the Slayer meet again. For any who are fans of Warhanmmer Vampires this is definitely a series you should try, it features many Vampire characters from multiple bloodlines and each one is interesting in their own way, if you like Lahmians than so much the better for you. And I would also recommend this series to any fans of Warhammer in general, its beautifully written and each novel is vastly enjoyable.
Well that is it for the June releases. I’ll be taking a break from Black Library for a bit, as I’ve read six BL novels and two audio-dramas in a row. Some other series will be filling my reading for a few weeks, and once the July releases are out i’ll get on those, but I may wait a bit before doing so. Until next time…
AVE DOMINUS NOX!