A strong cast weaved together into a dynamic ending!
Author: Stephen Aryan Publisher: Orbit books
Page Count: 481
This is the sequel to the equally great Battle Mage and I was extremely fortunate to win this copy in a birthday contest by Ayran himself (he also signed the copy….not bragging). Blood Mage has a time gap from the first novel, carrying on the events a decade or so after, introducing a new cast of characters who carried engaging links with those from the first novel. I enjoyed the time gap between the novels. Aryan did a great job at emphasizing how the effects from the first novel impacted the larger world, enriching this novel. There were little links and flashbacks throughout, which I enjoyed hugely, adding to the lore within this world.
The story follows three main characters: Choss is an ex-arena fighter who finds himself in the middle of saving the underworld from inner conflict, Katja is a master spy tasked with protecting two Queens and Fray who is the son of a great Battle Made, who is trying to step into his father’s shadow. Choss was my favourite character, a hardened veteran from the arena who now has moved onto running the arena itself. His story was extremely interesting, winding its way through the criminal underworld and diving along a thrill ride of conflicting sides and political wars, whilst linking itself with the core elements of the story. Fray was an interesting character, very much different from the others within the novel. He carried the magical elements within the novel and it was interesting understanding his abilities, although I would have loved a deeper explanation of his powers or what he might be able to do with training. He held a softer personality which contrasted against the gritty exterior of the novel itself, I enjoyed his development through the story but he was my least favourite among the cast. Katja has some great moments within the book, however I found she struggled to find her place within the story, which did mimic in a way with her story development.
Overall, I enjoyed the book hugely, gaining a deeper enjoyment as the story unfolded. The story was not exactly slow in pacing, but the start was a little slower than the rest of the novel. This could have been due to where the story was heading, wasn’t clear within the beginning of the novel. The pacing picks up as you hit the second third of the book, Aryan begins to inter-connect the different tales within the story, adding the depth to the story. The last third of the story was my favourite part, concluding with a whirlwind of swords and magic!
I would give this book a solid 3.8/5 – a enjoyable story, with a solid cast of characters and a story that is well-written throughout.
Check out Aryan’s latest book -The Coward!