It’s FRI-YAY!!! I know, I promised to do better at blogging outside of these tours, but pandemic fatigue is REAL right now. I’m working on ways to overcome these mental hurdles, but I’ll take wins where I can get them, which right now, is throwing all the delicious books I can at you.
And holy amazing race do I have an awesome ride for you today!
If you are new to this duology, I highly HIGHLY suggest you drop everything and get thee a copy of Ashlords post haste. You can check out my review for it HERE. I absolutely loved the Nyxia trilogy, but phoenix horses and alchemy and war and rebellion? I am here for it!
Before we start this race, be warned. Blood Sworn is the second in the Ashlord’s duology. So there may be some natural spoilers for the first book in reviewing the second book. That’s just how sequels work.
Now, without further ado… I give you five reasons you should read this book (and anything by Scott Reintgen, if I’m being honest).
5. Ruthless prose
From the very first pages of Nyxia I was hypnotized by Reintgen’s voice. And his mastery of words and imagery is even stronger and sharper in the Ashlord’s duology. We get three rotating POV’s and each one is not just unique but wholly the character’s own. But beyond masterfully creating characters that pop off the page, the prose is tight and sharp throughout the book, carefully steering us through the world along an exact path.
It’s a lovely parallel to accompany the plot with prose that matches. War after all is a series of feints and attacks, and there is no room for waste. Reintgen doesn’t use a word without necessity and as a result they are devastating. In the best way. The prose propels not just the story forward, but the reader too, filling us with a ruthless need to find out what happens next.
4. Intense and interwoven plots
Where Ashlords was primarily about the Races, Blood Sworn is about war. And war is complex. There’s politics and rebellions and rebellions within politics. This type of storyline can seem slower than the incredibly fast-paced intensity of the first book, where the Races made the story literally fly. But Blood Sworn is just as fast and just as intense.
Each character has a different perspective on the war and the world they live in. It gives us a stunning immersive view of the different dynamics at work, but also creates a very stressful (in a good way) reading experience. What one character discovers, another still doesn’t know, and in war, that is never a good thing.
But it’s not just characters working against each other. Reintgen gives us a far more complex war, where not even the characters understand the various layers and battles being waged on the battlefield, in government circles, and between the gods themselves. It’s politics and machinations, which means nothing is easy and there’s no clear answer over which way is right.
3. Killer characters
Can we all just bask in the glory that is this quote. Words like this bite and this book is filled with them. But part of this bite is the mouths they come out of. And fuck if I don’t love all of them.
First, the girls are my faves. Nothing against Adrian but Pippa and Imelda are where its at for me. They’re smart and determined and deadly. And that’s my favorite combination.
Beyond simply loving these characters for who they are, I adore how they’ve grown since the last book and continue to grow in this one. All three of them are strategists. It’s what got them in the Races in Ashlords and makes them brilliant commanders of their own people in the wars. But this strategy means they are masters of feints, forcing the reader to look one way while they hold the real play close to their chests. It is a heart-racing ride trying to figure out what their plans are and even more delightful when we realize that it’s always the unexpected play.
2. Harsh worlds and buried secrets
The details of the worlds alone are fascinating to discover and incredibly imaginative to explore. Phoenix horses that rise from ashes and alchemy at the suns first light. A pantheon of gods that offer a myriad of gifts to their loyal followers. It’s a wonderfully complex world that’s easy to get lost in and we get even more by taking the fight into the actual underworld.
As with all sequels, we get more in Blood Sworn. More alchemy, more creatures, more worlds, more intrigue, more violence. The characters themselves have grown but they have to continually adapt and adjust to the new truths and secrets they discover as they wage war against each other. And it’s not just that we see these new truths, but how the characters react to them.
I mentioned before that the characters are all strategists, holding their cards close to their chest. Well, they get that trait from the author, because Reintgen is a master at making us look one way while an entirely different plot twist unfolds instead. It makes reading a roller coaster ride where it’s difficult to see what’s coming around the next curve. All we know is that there will be stomach-plummeting twists along the way.
1.A plot-twisting rebellious adventure
While the main story revolves around war between the different people of the Empire, this is really an adventurous rebellion at its core. There are rebels, and they give the book heart and sass in wild abundance. But the essence of rebellion is shaking off the shackles of expectations and forging your own path. And that is the what each character is forced to grapple with. Do they do what is expected of them? Or do they blaze their own trail?
This is what makes each POV fun to read. It’s a story of discovery and journey. I love how each path is different, letting them make mistakes with the new truths they find. And simply that they get to become who they are. There are a lot of heavy themes woven throughout the plot, and more than a fair share of dark moments. But it’s impossible to read this duology and not feel the rush of racing through different landscapes on a horse born of magic.
In short, this series is a story that rushes you to the end the first time. It screams like the wind whipping through your hair to read it again and discover the quieter details missed the first time. It’s a book about races and rebellion, but it’s also about discovering the endless possibility of who we could be, if we’re brave enough to chase it.
Five burning stars.
Thank you TBR and Beyond Tours and Penguin Teen for my copy and including me on this tour.
Be sure to check out the rest of the tour HERE for more reviews, top five reasons to read, playlists, interviews, and more!
Three cultures clash in all out war–against each other and against the gods–in the second book of this fantasy duology that’s sure to capture fans of The Hunger Games and An Ember in the Ashes.
The Races are over. War has begun.
Ashlord and Longhand armies battle for control of the Empire as Dividian rebels do their best to survive the crossfire. This is no longer a game. It’s life or death.
Adrian, Pippa, and Imelda each came out of the Races with questions about their role in the ongoing feud. The deeper they dig, the clearer it is that the hatred between their peoples has an origin point: the gods.
Their secrets are long-buried, but one disgruntled deity is ready to unveil the truth. Every whisper leads back to the underworld. What are the gods hiding there? As the sands of the Empire shift, these heroes will do everything they can to aim their people at the true enemy. But is it already too late?
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Scott Reintgen is an author of science fiction and fantasy books. He wrote the Nyxia trilogy, as well as Saving Fable, Escaping Ordinary (Fall 2020), Ashlords and Bloodsworn (2021). He began his career as an English and Creative Writing teacher in North Carolina. He strongly believes that every student who steps into the classroom deserves to see themselves, vibrant and victorious and on the page. It’s his hope to encourage a future full of diverse writers. He currently lives in North Carolina with his wife Katie and his two boys, Henry and Thomas.