Book: “The Bloodsworn” by Erin Lindsey
Publication Info: Ace, September 2016
Where Did I Get this Book: audiobook from the library!
Book Description: Unbeknownst to most of Alden, King Erik, in thrall to a cruel bloodbinder, is locked away in his own palace, plotting revenge. To save her king, Lady Alix must journey behind enemy lines to destroy the bloodbinder. But her quest will demand sacrifices that may be more than she can bear.
Meanwhile, as the Warlord of Oridia tightens his grip on Alden, the men Alix loves face equally deadly tasks: her husband, Liam, must run a country at war while her brother, Rig, fights a losing battle on the front lines. If any one of them fails, Alden could be lost—and, even if they succeed, their efforts may be too late to save everyone Alix holds dear…
Review: The final book in the “Bloodbound” trilogy starts out with our heroes in what appears to be an unwinnable situation. King Erik is being controlled by a bloodbinder making him erratic and prone to paranoia (the extreme kind that leads to executions of close friends and family for “treason”). Rig’s battle at the front line has pretty much reached its limit with invasion imminent. Alix must venture deep into enemy territory to attempt to kill the bloodbinder who is controlling the King. And Liam is left to manage a country that is on the brink of destruction, all while hiding the fact that he has the King locked up in a room in the castle. A fact that would surely lead to his immediate death if it were to be discovered. The stakes are high.
At this point, it’s almost hard to remember that this series started out more as a romantic romp with some military/fantasy aspects thrown in than anything else. Sure, there was a large battle at the end and some political maneuvering here and there. But there were a lot of quieter moments where Alix’s personal life was the primary focus. Then the second book came along and everything changed. That entire book was just one massive failure after another for our heroes. And here, in the third, everything just seems kind of hopeless. All of the odds are stacked against them, and even their best case scenarios look grim. I mean, sure, if Alix saves the King, great! But they still have to deal with the fact that they have no allies (having blown their ambassadorial trips in the second book) and an enemy with an army that doubles their own.
I was happy to see that Alix once again played a major part in this story. While I still very much enjoyed the second book, her reduced presence was my biggest complaint. Instead, understandably, given his brain-washed state, Erik takes a back seat to the other characters here. I also liked the fact that Alix’s story line once again took us into the neighboring realms, this time their occupied neighbor whose resistance fighters had helped Rig win significant battles in the second book. Vel, also, played a more important role in this book, joining up with Alix on her quest to find the bloodbinder. I still struggled to like Vel as a character, though she had some good moments in this book. While it made sense to pair up these two women both for the plot and due to the dynamics that come from their relationships with Rig, I think that it also had the unintended result of negatively contrasting Vel to Alix. But this is a pretty subjective viewpoint of my own, more than anything.
Due to the high stakes nature of most of the action in this book, the story definitely kept me on the edge of my seat. There were parts of it where I seriously struggled with the fact that because I was listening to an audiobook and wasn’t able to skim forward and relieve any of the tension. The author did a great job balancing her parallel viewpoints and story lines in a way that just ratcheted up the stress levels on all fronts. And, while the series as a whole is obviously set up to be a generally “feel good” read, the grim realities of war are never glossed over and there were a few tough moments. Alix, in particularly, had a rough road to travel.
And, importantly, the personal relationships between our main characters were not shunted to the side even in the midst of all of this narrative upheaval. Alix and Liam’s marriage is still new and being tested by their own insecurities. Liam and Erik are still learning what it means to be brothers, especially given the effects of Erik’s brainwashing and his lingering pain due to the death of his other brother in the first book. Rig and Vel…yeah, I cared less about this. But it was fine, too.
Ultimately, this series was a very satisfying and consistent read. All three books were strong and the characters and plotlines built steadily over the course of the series with very few stumbling blocks. I would recommend this series for fans of political/military fiction with a strong female lead more than for fantasy lovers. While the fantasy element is important to the story, it is definitely less of a focal point than the rest. This is a lesser known series, but one that I hope begins to get the recognition it deserves!
Rating 8: A solid ending to the trilogy!
“The Bloodsworn” is a newer book and isn’t on many Goodreads lists, but it should be on “Military Fantasy.”
Find “The Bloodsworn” at your library using WorldCat!