MY ⭐️ RATING: 4.5/5
Format: Kindle Whispersync
It’s all about blood.
The blood spilled between the Republic of Mareen and the armies of the Blood Emperor long ago. The blood gifts of Mareen’s deadliest enemies. The blood that runs through the elite War Houses of Mareen, the rulers of the Tribunal dedicated to keeping the republic alive.
The blood of the former Legatus, Verne Amari, murdered.
For his granddaughter, Ikenna, the only thing steady in her life was the man who had saved Mareen. The man who had trained her in secret, not just in martial skills, but in harnessing the blood gift that coursed through her.
Who trained her to keep that a secret.
But now there are too many secrets, and with her grandfather assassinated, Ikenna knows two things: that only someone on the Tribunal could have ordered his death, and that only a Praetorian Guard could have carried out that order.
Bent on revenge as much as discovering the truth, Ikenna pledges herself to the Praetorian Trials—a brutal initiation that only a quarter of the aspirants survive. She subjects herself to the racism directed against her half-Khanaian heritage and the misogyny of a society that cherishes progeny over prodigy, all while hiding a power that—if found out—would subject her to execution…or worse. Ikenna is willing to risk it all because she needs to find out who murdered her grandfather…and then she needs to kill them.
Mareen has been at peace for a long time…
Ikenna joining the Praetorians is about to change all that.
Let me start off by saying THIS WAS FANTASTIC! I’m sad that this is only going to be a Duology because I feel like there is so much the author can do with this story. The Blood Trials reminds me a bit of Red Rising, but instead of touching on classicism the way Brown did, Davenport touches upon racism and sexism. It had that YA feel to it, especially near the beginning, but in that same tone as Red Rising it is not that genre. While I completely understand the connections people make with Red Rising, It also reminded me a bit of Book of the Ancestor by Mark Lawrence, and even a little bit of the tv-show/book series The 100.
I’m not a huge fan of first person perspective stories, but this really hit where it needed to. It’s a medium paced, science-fiction, military style, type of story of loyalty and rebellion. Ikenna was an amazing character, and from the get-go she is someone that you immediately like, and throughout the story I continued to love almost as much, or even as much as Nona from the Book of the Ancestor series. There were several side-characters throughout the story that I also liked a lot. Davenport did a fantastic job of fleshing out each one of them and putting their flaws out in the open. This story gets brutal and bloody, something I was not expecting at all, which might be why I liked this even more!
“We are as strong as Khanaian steel, I say to myself alongside Grandfather’s whisper. We do not bend. We do not break. We do not bow. We do not yield.”
There were a few times where some of the wordage hurt the flow of the story when easier words or phrases could’ve been used. I only bring this up because I was hoping it would be explained as a way the people spoke or how the characters were taught to speak, but there was never an explanation of that nature. These are a few examples of what I mean: “Goes down my esophagus”, “I curtail a wince”, “consternation creases her forehead”, “I let it’s soft susurration drown out”.
The narration was also on point! Jeanette Illidge does such a fantastic job of getting into each character and the emotion of the lines. You feel everything with the way she delivers! She gives life to each character by giving them all unique voices that make them distinct of their lands which further helps give voice to so many characters made this even more enjoyable.
Sounds like somebody used a thesaurus! And I ain’t talking about you….
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I kinda thought so myself lol
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I know that people can talk like that in real life (I’ve done it enough myself), but if the author is going to do it, it should have only been for one specific character and not from the narrator’s view.
I’d say it was a “confidence” issue as much as anything.
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