My thanks to Ace and NetGalley for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.
The epic saga that started in The Bloodbound continues…
As war between Alden and Oridia intensifies, King Erik must defend his kingdom from treachery and enemies on all sides—but the greatest danger lurks closer to home.
When the war began, Lady Alix Black played a minor role, scouting at the edge of the king’s retinue in relative anonymity. Though she’s once again facing an attacking Oridian force determined to destroy all she holds dear, she is now bodyguard to the king and wife to the prince.
Still, she is unprepared for what the revival of the war will mean. Erik is willing to take drastic measures to defend his domain, even if it means sending Prince Liam into a deadly web of intrigue and traveling into the perilous wild lands of Harram himself.
Only the biggest threat to the kingdom might be one that neither Alix nor Erik could have imagined, or prepared for…
While the kingdom of Alden may have won the battle against the evil Trionate in THE BLOODBOUND, they are far from having won the war. Their country is weary of fighting and running low on supplies and soldiers alike. If they are to repel their enemies, then they must convince their allies to join the war. So Alix, Erik, and Liam are sent off to compel their neighbours to join the war effort and stand against the Trionate, conveniently separating Alix from her husband. Personally, I can’t stand the whole “the lovers must be separated in the second book to create tension” trope, so I was pretty disappointed by that. I think it would’ve been way more interesting to see how Alix and Liam cope now that Liam is actually her superior in rank, and no longer the lowly soldier. But I digress.
The separation of our main cast means the addition of Liam’s POV, since we can no longer follow his movements through the eyes of his wife and brother. Erin Lindsey does a fantastic job with Liam’s chapters, showcasing his trademark wit and snark while also introducing a more vulnerable and insecure side to the newly discovered prince. With neither his wife nor his brother to aid him, Liam must navigate his way through a fraught diplomatic mission in the coastal nation of Onnan. His insecurities about his new status and the weighty expectations on his shoulders add depth to his character, and also contribute to some very tricky political snafus.
Erin Lindsey added another POV to the mix in THE BLOODFORGED, that of Alix’s brother Riggard Black. Rig is a fantastic character, very passionate in both battle and life but tempered by a strong sense of duty. Much like his sister, Rig is a character that does everything to extremes and struggles with impulse control. But as the newly appointed General of Alden’s military forces, Rig can’t afford to be impulsive. He can’t afford to make mistakes. So when the mysterious and alluring foreign priestess Vel appears practically on his doorstep, Rig is forced to proceed with caution lest he lose the war…and his heart.
Adding two new narrative perspectives to a series can prove disastrous, particularly when the book in question is so modest in length. But Erin Lindsey seamlessly blends Liam and Rig’s chapters into the story without missing a beat or slowing down the narrative. Three cheers for that!
Unfortunately, there were some things that occurred in THE BLOODFORGED that really impacted my enjoyment of the book. I understand and enjoy the fact that this series is a fantasy-romance hybrid, but I don’t appreciate forced romantic drama…particularly when some of the parties involved are married. As far as I was concerned, when Alix married Liam at the end of the first book, all romantic conflict surrounding those two should be just that: conflict involving only those two. Not helped along by Erik’s lingering feelings for Alix or Liam’s second-in-command and her embarrassing crush on him.
Every time Rona came onto the page I wanted to throttle her, and then I wanted to throttle Liam for a) not realizing what was happening and b) not shutting her down. Yes, Liam loves Alix. No, he’s proably not going to be unfaithful. But that situation created a weird, distasteful undercurrent during all of his scenes that really irked me. Which is especially sad because I loved Liam in the first book, but now I can’t help but think of him as something of a dunderhead despite of all his character growth and new-found politicking skills.
Here’s hoping that the third book has less contrived romantic weirdness than this one did, because without it THE BLOODFORGED would have easily been a four star read for me.
Do you also find the “separated lovers in book two” trope to be annoying? What are your favourite fantasy romance novels? What did you think of the new kingdoms and cultures introduced in THE BLOODFORGED?