Tam, the daughter of the fearless mercenary Tuck Hashford, has been sheltered for all her life by her over-protecting father after the death of her mother. She has never even set foot outside of her home town before, and she can only ever dream how the life in a band would be. That is, until Fable, the band of the infamous Bloody Rose herself, visit the pub she's working in, looking for a new bard...
"I should warn you," she said. "What we're going up against could be just as dangerous as the Horde. Worse, even". To Tam, there was nothing worse than the prospect of never leaving home, of being cooped up in Ardburg until her dreams froze and her Wyld Heart withered in its cage. She glanced at her uncle, who gave her a reassuring nod, and was about to tell Freecloud that it didn't matter if they were facing the Horde, or something worse than the Horde, or if they were bound for the Frost Mother's hell itself. She would follow.
Since I was already reading another book (which I was rather enjoying) when I got my hands on a Bloody Rose ARC, I promised that I would only read Bloody Rose after finishing that book. I only permitted myself a quick glance at the first chapter, to see how Eames opened the story. Seventeen hours and a sleepless night later, here I am writing this review.
Let's start by saying that Bloody Rose, as is the case with Kings of the Wyld, is a stand-alone novel, with no previous knowledge required. Sure, since the story takes place a few years after KOTW it could spoil a few things from the first book, but all in all, it's a seperate story, featuring a completely new set of characters. When I first heard that Bloody Rose wouldn't feature the original cast of KOTW I was pretty much bummed out. Nick had proven to me with KOTW and with his story in Art of War that he was an excellent writer, capable of producing another great novel, but I thought it would never be as cool as the first book was. Let's just say that it's not the first time I was wrong, and it certainly won't be the last. I can't claim that Bloody Rose is better than KOTW, since that was already perfect to begin with, but I can sure as hell say that it's on a par with it.
In Bloody Rose, we follow Tam and the other members of her band called Fable. Eames doesn't offer much of a backstory, but his well-fleshed-out characters are enough to get us emotionally attached from the very first page. The story itself is compelling, fast-paced and exciting, keeping you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Although Kings of the Wyld introduced us to a Horde of monsters capable of defeating and enslaving humanity, in Bloody Rose, Eames has managed to raise the stakes even higher.
It's not easy to keep both old and new readers happy when you write a second stand-alone novel in the same world. You'll either have to repeat yourself during world-building, annoying your old readers who already know this stuff from the previous book, or leave important elements out of your story, introducing your new readers to an incomplete setting. It's not easy, but it is possible, and Eames has managed to pull it off nicely, proving how talented he is.
I mentioned earlier that I read Bloody Rose in less than 24 hours, which probably doesn't mean a lot to you, since most of you know that I've already pulled off something like that numerous times in the past. It does mean a lot to me and my close friends though, who know first-hand that I've been in a reading slump since I read Grey Sister back in November of last year. I've read a lot of excellent books since then, but Bloody Rose was the only one that managed to get me out of it.
All in all, Bloody Rose is an exciting and thrilling novel, and I can see it sweeping up every single award it is nominated for. Highly Recommended.
Bloody Rose is out on August 28, 2018. You can pre-order it HERE.
Note to Author: Last time I cried reading a book, was when Odysseus returned to Ithaca after a twenty-year absence, only to find out that his dog Argos has been waiting for all these years to greet his master for one last time before he died. You, sir, are not allowed to make me cry two times before the 43rd page of a book I've barely even started, for a character I don't even know yet. In bird culture this is considered a dick move.