“Blood’s Pride” by Evie Manieri is a solid fantasy which I quite enjoyed.
Evie’s writing suspends disbelief. It is fluid and rich with detail, but not overly so as you’ll find in many classics. She pulled me into her world and her story kept me turning page after page. I invested myself in her characters. None were heroes and none were truly villains either. Each had histories explaining the people they’d become and understandable if not relatable desires.
The book is quite original in its setting. It takes place in a seaside desert with hints of a much colder world to the north. A great mountainside temple lies in the sealed away shadows of its past. It is the gateway to the mines that brought an imperial host to its shores.
Twenty years later, the slavers are fractious as the oppressed revolt against their bondage. The slaves refuse their murderous masters and seek revenge for the destruction of their faith. No longer will they toil in the black mines of the mountain under heel and rod. They have a plan.
The magics of the world are varied. Black metal from the mountain has mystical properties. It is the source of the enslaving empire’s attentions. The warring twin Gods of the dune wanderers bless their followers in exchange for their singular devotion. Should its secrets be unearthed, the lost faith of the enslaved harbors the most powerful magic of all.
A large cast of characters and shifting points of view might throw off some readers. I had no problems following along. I did feel the actions taken by two of the characters were at odds with what I’d come to know about their personas. This initially broke the spell Evie had cast over me, but she made up for it in subsequent chapters. I came to understand I hadn’t fully understood the characters I thought I had and I liked them more for it. Looking back, there were hints I simply hadn’t caught.
The tale ties up tight, yet there are definite lead-ins to the next books. One element of the ending was bitter-sweet and was both unexpected and predestined. I look forward to the next installment of the trilogy.
I rate this story a solid 4 out of 5 stars. If you like original fantasy settings and good writing, you’ll enjoy it too.
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