“Sometimes the only answer is blood and steel.”
Author: John Gwynne
Category: Epic Fantasy
Series: Of Blood and Bone #1
Don’t miss our podcast discussion this week where we review this book in much more (spoiler free) detail!
Over one-hundred and thirty years after the events of The Faithful and the Fallen series, we return to the Banished Lands where the angel-like Ben-Elim have now become conquerors after saving humanity from the Kadoshim demon-horde. Over time, humanity has come to question whether the Ben-Elim are here to help them or to rule them.
The Ben-Elim came in as saviors against the demonic Kadoshim. Now many years later, the humans have not seen demons for a long time. The Ben-Elim still force humans to be recruited into their army to fight against the Kadoshim horde but many humans have never seen a Kadoshim attack first hand and so don’t feel like they should be sending their sons and daughters away for a danger that they don’t see. Since these humans were not around when the Ben-Elim saved them, the humans only see the makings of tyrannical dictators that have no respect for human heritage. This sets up for an interesting dynamic that hooks you in from an early point in the book.
With a great set up though, you must have the goods to deliver. Unfortunately, there is not enough meat on the bones. Most if the characters are bland and uninteresting. They feel like they are there to fill their role, as opposed to the story fitting them. Not to mention the “hints” the were laid out for a characters twist ending. The tidbits were a bit heavy handed making the book pretty predictable.
If you were a fan of The Faithful and the Fallen series, then you will enjoy this book. John Gwynne has his own personal style that takes fantasy tropes and makes an interesting story. If the characters had been more interesting, then there would be little else to complain about this book.
I did not enjoy the first series and this one was not much better. I know the books themselves are not bad, they just seem to not interest me. Maybe everything is a little to generic fantasy, maybe I am just not a fan of this writing style. Either way, if you are a fan of this author, I think you will still very much enjoy it.
The only thing missing from this book is characters that I could get invested in. I had the same problem with some of the characters in the first series, especially the giants. I just could never fully get behind them. I don’t feel like the characters are very dynamic, they are just typical fantasy characters there to fill their role but don’t jump off the page for me at all.
That said, perhaps this series will be much like the first one for me. I felt like the first one way okay but it was later books that saw more character development that got me invested in the series more.
Seeing a darker side of the Ben-Elim was definitely what kept me reading this book and I absolutely have the feeling that will just be expanded upon in future books so I will continue to read the series as it comes out.
If you read the first series, I think you will likely have exactly the same feelings toward this book as you did those.