Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Bloodring by Faith Hunter

My TBR Wednesday book for March is Bloodring by Faith Hunter, published November 2006. I think the reason I've not read this before is that I'm not 100% comfortable with the religious overtones of the story. How did this end up on my TBR pile? LOL. I think it's another of those I picked up on Amazon's recommendation.

Bloodring is a dark fantasy set one hundred years after three plagues have decimated mankind. The Earth is now in an ice-age, and seraphs and demons fight a never-ending battle. Meanwhile, the surviving humans are caught up in religious strife - the apocalypse was preceded by the appearance of the seraphs.

In this world Thorn St. Croix hides among the humans. A Neomage; she should be living with the rest of her kind in one of the Enclaves. Instead she chooses to live as a fugitive. When her ex-husband Lucas is kidnapped, she'll risk everything to find him, knowing that the price of discovery is death.

As well as Thorne, we meet her ex brother-in-law Rupert, and his lover Audric (I think my favourite characters). Thadd - a policeman who is convinced Thorne knows more than she's letting on, and who has secrets of his own. Various townspeople with their own agendas, and of course the seraphs.

There was a lot I enjoyed about the book.

It's filled with a subtle eroticism, that crests and wanes as you're reading.
"I dragged my thoughts away from his muscled back and what it might look like naked if he lifted a bale of hay overhead. In summer. After a hard workout."
:) Okay, some of it's not so subtle. But there's this slow burn as you're reading it, that let's you experience Thorn's frustration as she's unable to fulfill her desire.

There's lots of dialogue that I'd love to quote. A sure sign I enjoyed a book, even if I didn't completely understand what was going on.
"I'm naked."
"I noticed. And if I was straight. I'd be interested."

Faith Hunter 'draws' characters very well. She can paint a picture with words, which fixes them in your head very quickly. She has a wonderful way of expressing herself - I can't remember the last time I read the word 'pellucid' or 'susurration' in a novel. It adds to the sensuality of the storyline. Though using such strange words more than once, really stands out.

I like that we cut between Lucas and Thorne. It does feel like a puzzle, with the pieces slowly coming together. Though at the end there are still pieces missing.

As one of my concerns before reading the book was the religious content, I'm pleased that the seraphs in this world haven't validated any religion. And that there are some groups that believe the seraphs aren't angelic but alien in origin. I like the fact that we're given more than one possibility and no definite solution.

There was also a lot I was confused about or didn't understand. This was my main problem with the book. I get the main thrust of what's going on, but I think some of the subtleties of the plot are lost on me, which is frustrating. Though conversely when you finally work something out, it's rewarding. Yes, I want to have my cake and eat it too.

I didn't completely understand why Neomages risk execution for living outside an Enclave. I'm not sure I understand why they're hated - not that people ever needed a reason. There is some clarification later on - to do with the part they played following the apocalypse. But I think perhaps there are still some gaps to be filled in. That's the thing I noted down most often as I was reading - I still don't understand why Mages are so hated. At one point a seraph - a being that the religious groups venerate - tells Thorn to wait, and still the crowd of humans turns ugly.? Maybe it's because the world has gone mad, and you can't look for logic or sense there, you can't look for reason in a fundamentalist world - but I think in a story there has to be some consistency.

It's also said in the book that the seraphs would lead the attack on any undocumented mages. But this never happened to Thorn, which feels contradictory. Again I feel like I'm missing something.

No matter how many times I try, I can't get the hierarchy of neomage, kylen, seraph, second-unforeseen straight.

Quite a few of the biblical references went over my head, especially towards the end.

I didn't like the fact that neomages aren't supposed to have souls. (Apropos of nothing, it always bugged me on Angel when they said Fred's soul was destroyed. Grrrr.)

Having said all of that. I don't necessarily think that not completely understanding what's going on in the first book of a trilogy/series is a bad thing. As long as these complications are clarified in a later book. My problem is that I don't know whether they will be. So my fingers are crossed that a) this is the case and b) by the time I've read the next book I'll be keeping track of who is what, and what that means. I've already ordered Book 2 - Seraphs, hopefully it won't take me another couple of years to get round to reading it.


Li said...

Hmmm... I remember seeing this one when it first came out. I think it was the cover that appealed to me. I'll have to have another look the next time I'm in the bookstore to see if it appeals - I like the passages you quoted, but what you say about not completely understanding the story is putting me off slightly!

Anonymous said...

I don't do religous themed books. I'm glad you found moments of humor in the book though.

LesleyW said...

Li - There's some good explanations on Faith Hunter's site about how the various creatures fit into the story.

Scooper - the religious stuff is what kept it on my TBR pile for so long.