It has been twelve years since The War of Ashes, but animosity still lingers between the nations of Sharma and Gavendara, and only a few souls have dared to cross the border between them. The villagers of Jalard live a bucolic existence, nestled within the hills of western Sharma, and far away from the boundary which was once a warzone. To them, tales of bloodshed seem no more than distant fables. They have little contact with the outside world, apart from once a year when they are visited by representatives from the Academy who choose two of them to be taken away to their institute in the capital. To be Chosen is considered a great honour… of which most of Jalard’s children dream.
But this year the Academy representatives make an announcement which is so shocking it causes friction between the villagers, and some of them begin to suspect that all is not what it seems. Just where are they taking the Chosen, and why? Some of them intend to find out, but what they discover will change their lives forever and set them on a long and bloody path to seek vengeance…
Bloodsworn by Tej Turner is a classic fantasy adventure with some very cool twists, opening with the traditional setting of remote village and an initiation test about to happen. I was immediately in comfortable territory and excited to see what the author would do with it, and I quickly took to the first point of view character Kyra, the only girl in Jalard who has taken up weapons training and can beat most of the boys. All except Rivan, her main rival when it comes to becoming one of the Chosen for the prestigious Academy in the city of Shemet.
I liked Kyra’s feistiness and determination, and was initially quite surprised when the book quickly swapped point of view, but it did become intriguing and gave the perspective of a bookish young man called Jaedin. Through him we start to see some of the mythology of this world, and I absolutely loved it. Warring deities and creation stories captivated my imagination and set the stage for the little hints of mythology that continued throughout the story.
As for the plot, I love the twists that come quite early on – before the Chosen even reach Shemet things start happening and the youth of Jalard, both those Chosen and those left behind, find themselves in the midst of world-shaking events. Without giving too much away, it involves magical experiments, shape-shifting monsters, meddling gods, and betrayals aplenty. Apart from the events themselves, the dynamics between the characters was a strong part of the story, and I was kept on my toes wondering what people would do next and how they would play off of one another.
My only complaint with this book is that the lack of flow within the dialogue and the sentence structures sometimes jarred me out of my reading, and there was a lot more telling than showing throughout. However, the world building and the promise of more enticing magic, monsters, and plot twists has made me very keen on book two. And the good news: I was very kindly sent the sequel, Blood Legacy, by the author and publishers and am buddy reading it with the wonderful Bookforager, so stay tuned for that review soon!
Published: 8th January 2021 by Elsewhen Press
Series: The Avatars of Ruin, book one
Narration style: third person past tense, multiple points of view
Format read: paperback
Content Warnings: body horror, death, blood