This was my first introduction to ML Spencer, and certainly won't be my last. Chains of Blood follows the story of Rylan Marshall, a suffering, poor soul whose son was killed and daughter kidnapped by demons. He's haunted by the incident, and is determined to rescue his daughter no matter the cost. The plot is straightforward, and my initial impression was "Yeah, we've read this before." But I'm never one to be off-put by a common plotline, so I continued. I'm really glad I did.
Without a doubt, this is dark fantasy. I love me some good dark fantasy reads. Rylan faces challenges to his quest, of course, and it comes in the form of secret oaths, betrayal, and everything he thought he knew about himself being a farce. The cast of supporting characters get some POV's in this story, which I loved. As the story progresses, it becomes clear his daughter Amina has been taken by the Turan Khar, a large enemy force bound to the will of the Warlord, and she is being used as a bargaining chip to force Rylan to the Warlords will, because he is the son of powerful mage. The concept of the Warlord being in complete control of his subjects was fascinating.
I had a few complaints, although they weren't enough to detract from my enjoyment of the story. Rylan as character was a bit hard for me to relate to, except for his fierce love for his family. I’m not sure what made it hard for me to really like him - maybe the fact that we are kind of thrown into his POV and the story itself without really getting to know him? He came across as quite clueless, and some of the decisions he made were a bit confusing. There were times he killed dozens of people at a time, usually in quite convenient ways, and was confused at how he did so. Maybe it’s a product of me not understanding the magic system, too.
Speaking of, the magic system at times was really, really cool. One really neat aspect was the idea of mages being chained together - it reminded me of the Mord Sith from the Sword of Truth series, or the Wheel of Time’s Seanchan and how they chained Aes Sedai. This chaining not only connected the two mages together so they could share and use each other’s power, but it connected them to the entirety of the Turan Khar empire, funneled through a chain worn by the Warlord. It ensured their everlasting love and Devotion to the Khar cause, and took away all semblance of free will. So it usurped everything that makes one human- emotions, physical body, soul, and mind. Quite clever, and quite scary at the same time.
What I was confused about was the source of Magic itself. Users could control this magical force, and it didn’t seem to have limitations. It seemed to take a physical toll on the user, but then there were ways around this - chains (as mentioned previously) to share the power, or magical artifacts such as the one Gil uses to increase that power to unstoppable ends. It felt a bit too convenient at times. Rylan could accidentally kill as many people as he needed to, and Gil could pretty much stop anything that came at him.
All that to say, this book was very well written and soundly structured, prose-wise. The author has an incredible talent to plop you right into the action and uses descriptives without being too flowery, and yet doesn’t sacrifice beauty in the telling. There was just the right amount of “show don’t tell” mixed with backstory and, well, telling.
3.5/5 for me. I’m sure this is going to hit the right spot for a lot of readers, and I won’t hesitate to pick up another book from the author.
Hello, everyone! Though the New Year has already begun and our TBR piles are weighing heavily, we at Booknest.eu wanted to take a moment to remind you about some of our favorite novels published in 2019!
1. Can you tell us what Chains of Blood is about?
Chains of Blood is about a war between the already battle-torn nations of the Rhen and an enemy that is basically a hive mind society that uses mages as weapons that are chained together to amplify their power.
2. What made you decide to write a sequel to the Rhenwars Saga?
Honestly, I wasn’t going to. But I had a whole bunch of fans writing me who wanted to know what would happen to the son of one of the main characters. So I decided that since it seemed a story people wanted to know, I should probably write it.
3. What differentiates the protagonists from the previous ones?
Well, in The Rhenwars Saga, Kyel Archer is the classic “reluctant hero:” a good man who always tries to do what is right and has some sound moral limits. Darien Lauchlin is a pretty dark and impulsive character who is willing to go to any length to accomplish what he deems necessary. Kyel’s son Gil isn’t like his dad. He’s arrogant and ambitious. He doesn’t have the same personal limits, even though he tries very hard to be a hero like his father. Rylan is Darien’s son and, again, he’s nothing like his father. He is reserved, cautious, and a rather every-day kind of guy.
4. Who are the antagonists in this book?
The bad guys are the Turan Khar, who have a very interesting society. They are all telepathically linked together in a kind of hivemind collective. Their society is actually very beautiful, arguably the highest form of civilization that has ever been achieved. Every individual within it only acts for the good of the whole, never selfishly. The only problem with the Turan Khar is that, if there is a threat to the collective, that threat must be extinguished without any consideration of the consequences.
6. How has the response been to the Rhenwars Saga so far?
The Rhenwars Saga did very well and the feedback on it has been intense. I can’t believe how many people consider it one of their favorite series in all of fantasy. That was actually a little shocking to me.
7. Who is your favorite character in Chains of Blood?
I like Rylan. He’s a very nice guy in a crappy situation, and there’s a lot more to him than meets the eye. Besides, I have some serious plans for him *rubs hands together wickedly.
8. How many books can we expect in this series?
I’m going to try to keep this one to a trilogy.
9. What would you suggest the theme for this series is?
The chains weren’t enough to tip my hat? Lol. Bonds. Bonds of blood, bonds of love, bonds of duty…don’t get me started on the bonds that connect the Khar society.
10. What writing projects do you have coming up?
I have another trilogy in the works. After that, who knows?