It made me laugh and it made me cry. It also made me curious, anxious, frustrated and finally it made my heart soar. When a book is able to make me feel so much, it is right and just for me to place it among my favourites.
The pacing of the plot was, in my opinion, close to perfect with a slightly slower build-up at the beginning to lay the groundwork of the larger peril Tristia was facing aside from just petty, despicable Dukes. I realised that I love mystery elements even in fantasy as I was fascinated and pulled in by the gradual unravelling of the identity of the person and the reason behind the rampant killing of the Saints. Arising from this narrative, we learnt more about the Gods and Saints which we’ve so far only been able to appreciate in small doses; most intriguing being the purpose of Saints in a world that already has its Gods.
Truth is being buried under deception, faith drowned by fear.
Faith has always been nebulous, inherently hard to break but also terribly easy to pervert. This is why religion has been consistently the predominant cause for conflict and war, and in these modern times, terrorism. Religious fanaticism and self-righteousness can literally destroy the concept of what is just, right and lawful. And that is the main theme underlying the story in Saint’s Blood. While there isn’t a single scene in here that can beat the Lament in Knight’s Blood in terms of grimness, I find that the overall theme around faith, fear and religion to be darker. For one thing, the formation of the zealots was positively sickening. I also find the action and fight scenes more brutal in this installment.
While the story was engaging, what captivated me the most was the character development. I just cannot begin to describe how masterfully executed the development of the main and supporting characters was in this book; all the more impressive given that it was written in first person perspective of Falcio only. This was splendidly complemented with believable interaction between the characters and great dialogue.
Three broken men trying to pretend we can continue living in the past.
The wonderful trio of Falcio, Kest and Brasti and their bromance completely slayed me and turned me into mush inside. There is just so much love, compassion and loyalty between these three badass Greatcoats, and it’s all doled out with lashings of humour that one needs to have a heart of stone not to love these guys.
"So just answer me this: if you’re beside me, are my chances of failing more or less than they would be without you?"
“I can’t think of one reason why I’d want to hug you.” “I can think of one.”
“Yeah? What would that be.” “Because if you don’t get off your ass and stand up so that I can hug you, I’m going to kiss you right on the mouth.”
The growth in the female characters was equally fantastic, if not more, given that they were not the main characters and hence had less page-time. Valiana’s cunning, strength and courage continues to astound, but the most amazing change of all can be seen in young Aline who surprised everyone. Meanwhile, Ethalia progressed from being a side character to one of great importance in the larger scheme of things.
One unexpected individual in particular, which elevated the characterisation in Saint’s Blood from great to masterful was that of a ‘villain’, one whom I used to view as despicable but has now risen in my esteem.
But no man is all one thing; none of us are pure in our beliefs or our devotions. We are all bound by the frailties of our humanity, some of which feed our hatred, some of which, very occasionally, make us want to be something better.
The climax and denouement of the plot in Saint’s Blood was utterly satisfying, to say the least. I am ever enthralled by stories of the best of humanity in the face of the worst and this book delivered an abundance of amazing moments that were gloriously heartwarming. I will move onto the last book with both trepidation and anticipation, as this one will be quite hard to beat.