About the Book
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.
This book was sent for me to review by the publisher.
Blood’s Pride is one of those thick books that makes every epic fantasy fan salivate. It’s thick, so there must be something wonderful in it, right? At least, that’s the way my mind works. With epic fantasy, generally the bigger the book, the more excited I get about it. So, despite the cover art (that really did absolutely nothing for me), I got excited about this one. It’s big. It’s epic. It’s also written by a woman (which gets me excited). There was plenty here to get me going.
Maybe I’m just getting exhausted with epic fantasy. Blood’s Pride takes place in (yet another) country ripe for rebellion, full of a native and downtrodden people being ruled by foreigners who have, by and large, never even set foot in their homeland. There are plenty of complex cultural nuances that Manieri does quite well. For example, the Norlanders are a race from the far north, and basically burn in the sun. Sounds rather vampire-ish, right? Well, yeah, but there’s an interesting weakness there that Manieri exploits quite well throughout the book. And there’s no blood sucking. Bonus. Another example is the king of the Nomas, who is only king because he can weld fire.
These interesting cultural nuances keep the book fresh and interesting. It’s nice to read about cultures and peoples that are unique and well thought out. Manieri does a great job at exploiting the strengths and the weaknesses of each group. What may be a strength in some situations, might easily be an individual’s undoing in another. The author handles this well and avoids playing favorites despite how easily that could be. Perhaps telling the story from multiple perspectives, each in different social groups, keeps her from playing favorites. Whatever the case may be, the cultural nuances are a definite strong point for Blood’s Pride.
That being said, a lot of Blood’s Pride is rather stereotypical for epic fantasy. As I mentioned above, there are the downtrodden locals who have been turned into servants by the oh-so-powerful invading force. The land is ripe for rebellion. Mixed into this is a dysfunctional ruling family, some awkward romantic relationships, and a person that you can’t really pin down (even though she becomes discouragingly predictable due to how stereotypical much of the plot is). This is, perhaps, the biggest downfall of this book. It’s all been done before. Aside from the cultures, there really isn’t anything new and earth shattering here.
Blood’s Pride is incredibly character driven. Some people might like that about the book. While that normally wouldn’t bother me in the least, it doesn’t really work with Blood’s Pride. The problem is, the characters are the same as the plot: stereotypical. While their names might be unique, you’ve read about all of them before. I guarantee it. This tends to make the characters themselves read a little two-dimensional and, at times, uninteresting.
While there’s something always happening with Blood’s Pride, the plot really isn’t as fast moving as you’d expect. Multiple viewpoints can become rather clunky at points, making the reader experience the same event multiple times through multiple perspectives before the author moves on to something else. Secondly, much of the action drags on and on and on and on and… well, you get the idea. In fact, this was such an issue that I easily skimmed vast portions of the book and didn’t feel like I missed out on any important details or events at all. This makes the first fourth of the book interesting while the rest of it feels like the Longest. Ending. Ever.
Blood’s Pride, in the end, left me incredibly frustrated. The world and cultures show incredible potential, but the plot and characters are completely lacking. Awkwardly paced, with events that never seem to stop happening and characters that you’ve probably read about in a hundred other books before, Blood’s Pride never really surfaces. Too many events, too many battles, uninteresting characters, and a clunky plot bog down this book, which is unfortunate because juxtaposed to that is some great writing and a fantastically unique world. Sadly, the wonderful cultures just aren’t enough to revive this work.