Bane of Kings reviews Blood’s Pride by Evie Manieri, published by Tor Books in the US (11 February) and Jo Fletcher Books (Already Released) in the UK. It’s the first book in the Shattered Kingdoms series.
“A great new voice in fantasy that’s not to be missed.” ~The Founding Fields
I had the opportunity to read Blood’s Pride late last year through NetGalley – but held off writing the review until closer to the publishing date in the USA even though it had already been released in the UK. But needless to say, Evie Manieri’s debut novel is a strong one, character focused despite having the backdrop of an epic rebellion. If you’re a fan of Joe Abercrombie and George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones, I strongly suggest that you give this novel a look into. It’s a promising start to a series with only a few minor flaws.
Rising from their sea-torn ships like vengeful, pale phantoms, the Norlanders laid waste to the Shadar under cover of darkness. They forced the once-peaceful fisher folk into slavery and forged an alliance with their former trading partners, the desert-dwelling Nomas tribe, cutting off any hope of salvation.
Now, two decades after the invasion, a rebellion gathers strength in the dark corridors of the city. A small faction of Shadari have hired the Mongrel, an infamous mercenary, to aid their fledgling uprising—but with her own shadowy ties to the region, she is a frighteningly volatile ally. Has she really come to lead a revolution, or for a more sinister purpose all her own?
This thrilling new epic fantasy is set in a quasi-Medieval Mediterranean region, drawing together the warrior culture of Vikings, the wanderlust of desert nomads, and the oracles of ancient Greece. Evie Manieri’s Blood’s Pride is an intricate, lush fantasy novel full of taut action, gut-wrenching betrayal, and soaring romance
Let’s start with what I didn’t like about Blood’s Pride. The naming conventions I’m not a big fan of, and the characters themselves are quickly forgettable. That’s really about it, for the rest of the novel is very engaging and very enthralling. I gave it a three stars on my initial Goodreads rating but upon reflection am probably going to boost that up to a 3.5 or a 4 come the end of this review.
The story itself tells the tale of life after the Nordlanders invasion of Shadar. It oddly reminds me of Firefly in a way that Blood’s Pride focuses o those who lost the war, rather than the victors. The two cultures are explored in depth in Blood’s Pride, and whilst this does bog the pace down in some places, most of the story is an entertaining read. You can tell that Manieri has put a lot of thought into creating this world and develops it in great detail, and on top of that – she’s managed to create strong, three-dimensional characters that keep the reader enthralled from the get go, even if they won’t last long in their memories. (I’m struggling to remember the character’s names myself, and normally I am quite good at remembering characters names – or at least, I like to think I am.)
The prose itself is strong for the most of the novel. It’s not overly complicated, and the book is something that isn’t too much of a challenge to read, and even though it’s almost six hundred pages long, it doesn’t feel that way, which will be great for readers who were put off by the lengths of series such as A Wheel of Time and A Song of Ice and Fire. The action is well written and the plot is pretty engaging as well. This is a novel unlike any other of the mainstream fantasy books out there on the market, so if you’re looking for a promising new voice in fantasy then you can’t go wrong with Blood’s Pride.
If you’re an American reader, this debut is a great way to kick of 2013 with, in the same month that will also see the release of The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett, Robert Jackson Bennett’s American Elsewhere and more, it can be easy to give Blood’s Pride a miss. But don’t – it’s a great ride with a few flaws.