Brian Ruckley's Winterbirth (Canada, USA, Europe) generated some mixed reactions among SFF readers. It's one of those works which people either love or hate. Lucky for me, Winterbirth ended up being one of my favorite reads of 2006. Which means that I had high hopes for the sequel, Bloodheir.

Ruckley fans will be pleased to learn that the author delivers once again in this second volume of The Godless World trilogy. Hence, if you enjoyed Winterbirth, chances are that you won't be disappointed by Bloodheir. By the same token, if you were put off by the first volume, its successor follows the various storylines with the same style and tone. Thus, it is unlikely that such readers will fancy Ruckley's latest.

I remember first picking up Winterbirth because Brian Ruckley's writing style was being compared to that of George R. R. Martin. Storywise, Ruckley's series has nothing in common with GRRM's ASOIAF. Nevertheless, it appears that both authors share a predilection for dark, gritty and uncompromising fantasy epics. And like Martin, Ruckley is decidedly not averse to killing off major characters.

The Black Road has overrun the north. Emboldened by their crushing victory over the Lannis Blood, they are pushing south in order to destroy the True Bloods and reclaim their rightful place in the world. Gryvan oc Haig, Thane of Thanes, sends his son, the Bloodheir Aewult, at the head of an army to deal with the invaders. Little do they know that the Black Road's forces have been swelled by the largest mobilization of Inkallim troops in memory, and they will stop at nothing to reach the end of their Road.

Amid all that chaos, having survived crucifixion upon the White Owl Kyrinin's Breaking Stone, Aeglyss underwent a transformation. Na'kyrim everywhere can now sense the foul burgeoning of his powers in the Shared, and even the dormant Anain are stirring, roused by the realization of the menace posed by Aeglyss. As war erupts, the na'kyrim falls in the throes of madness, and he uses his powers to twist people and events to serve his own dark desires.

Bloodheir is another fine example of worldbuilding, even though Ruckley continues to tease us with glimpses of the past as the plotlines progress. Although magic plays a somewhat bigger role in this sequel, it remains subdued to some extent. I don't know if Katherine Kurtz's Deryni were an inspiration, but the na'kyrim are similar in a variety of ways.

I found that the characterization was the most improved aspect of Bloodheir. There is definite character growth where Orisian and Anyara are concerned. We learn more about characters such as Rothe, Taim Narran, the Shadowhand, Kanin and Wain of the Horin-Gyre Blood, and more. Aeglyss is a complete basket case, which makes him an unpredictable power player in this tale.

Once more, the presence of the Black Road and their creed in a godless environment adds another dimension to the story. And the Inkallim, those religious fundamentalists with their own agenda in this conflict, remain my favorite facet of this series.

As the middle book in a trilogy, Bloodheir serves to fill the gap between Winterbirth and the final installment. As such, there isn't much in terms of resolution. Nonetheless, the storylines progress nicely, and after a few twist and turns this novel sets the stage for what should be an excellent finale.

Bloodheir is a worthy sequel to Winterbirth and a very good read in its own right. Without the shadow of a doubt, it should be one of the fantasy books to read in 2008.

The final verdict: 8/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

5 commentaires:

Larry Nolen said...

Considering that I found the first to be rather dull, it'll be some time before I get around to reading this, even though I've had the ARC of it for a few months now. Sounds like it's more of the same and if the first was bland, then it seems likely the second will just be the same.

Robert said...

Well I was hoping for some notable improvements. Nevertheless, I'll probably check this out at some point, although it's not high on my list at this point...

Patrick said...

Guys, I have to wonder why you are even considering reading BLOODHEIR if you were so underwhelmed by the first volume?

If it's not your cup of tea, then move on and read stuff you're interested in.

I've given up on various authors myself, chief among them Lois McMaster Bujold. She simply doesn't do it for me. I know a lot of people love her work, and good for them. I just don't see the point of forcing myself to read her stuff and then write a negative review afterwards, especially when I know I'm predisposed to hate the book in the first place. . .

As I said in my review, if you didn't like WINTERBIRTH, chances are that BLOODHEIR won't do it for you, either.

Unknown said...

If any of you have an ARC to spare, I'm happy to receive ;)

I liked Winterbirth, even though I agree that it was overhyped considerably, but it was a nice read none the less. So I'll definately be picking up this one :)

Robert said...

While I had some issues with the debut, I actually enjoyed "Winterbirth" and have been looking forward to continuing the series. It's just that I have so many other books that I'd like to read first, before I get to this one...