Bloodring: A Rogue Mage Novel Mass Market Paperback – Nov 4 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Thorn St. Croix, a stone mage, lives secretly among humans in this entertaining if flawed postapocalyptic fantasy, the first in a new series... Even Thorn's friends, with whom she crafts jewelry, don't know she's a member of the new race that emerged in the catastrophe brought by winged "seraphs" a century earlier. When her ex-husband disappears, Thorn must use her only partially trained mage powers against the forces of Darkness. Outstanding supporting characters help compensate for a milieu with jarring inconsistencies (sugar is rare, but coffee and aspirin are common; no new computers have been built since most of humanity was wiped out, but the Internet is still an active source of commerce). The author's efforts to sex up the action with the concept of "mage-heat"—mages are uncontrollably lusty around seraphs—become tiresome, but the strong, cliffhanger of an ending bodes well for future adventures. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About a century after devastating plagues and the War between Good and Evil, Earth is in another ice age. Demons and seraphs fight unendingly, as do humans. A host of other unworldly creatures, most with an appetite for humans, add to the general danger. Certain humans are neomages, with the power to use leftover creation energy; kept in luxurious prisons, they use their powers only for the seraphic "government." Neomage Thorn St. Croix had to escape or go mad. Hiding among ordinary humans, she even married. When an attractive policeman appears at her door and tells her she is suspected of abducting her former husband, Thorn has to use her powers to hunt for him, too. Of course, any official who watches her long enough will figure out what she is, which means madness or death for her. Hunter's very professionally executed, tasty blend of dark fantasy, mystery, and romance should please fans of all three genres. Frieda Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Perhaps I was forced to think a little too much. When I did finally catch up with the plot (end of world that didn't quite go off as expected), it started throwing me curve balls. The "heat" the heroine goes into when contaminated by anyone with seraph genes was too reminiscent of Anita Blake and her "Ardeur", and now Karen Moning with her new "Dark" series and Fae that make the heroine crawl on her knees with skirt up, panties down. Sex lust, dogs in heat, mindless mating fever, ick, ick, blech. It has become a tasteless plot device that can so easily distract from what otherwise is a fairly fascinating story. The blind hatred by humans against mages also gave me pause. Humans will fight alongside the Mage against the dark, they call on the Mages for magical help, but if they catch one they will debase, rape, torture and murder them? Why? Never clearly explained, even though that blind hatred was a major portion of the book, and the reason the heroine was hiding out in the first place.
The world building is good, the dark and cold scenery was perfectly described (enough to have you grabbing for a sweater), the character's personalities (when not insane with hate or animal lust) were excellent. The villains were truly dark, the friendships were strong yet fragile enough to feel real. The characters who were standing on the fence showed natural insecurities and kept you guessing. Very impressive. Thorn's abilities with stones, both working with them professionally and as a warrior was incredibly well done.
Despite the curveballs described previously, I will read this author again, and have put the sequel of this book, "Seraphs" on my wishlist.
The main events center on Thorn's special abilities and the abduction of Thorns ex-husband, Lucas Stanhope - first, what makes our protagonist unique. Approximately 150 years ago, seraphs descended to earth bringing plagues and God's judgment on the human race. Nuclear war ensued, wiping out the majority of the population and plunging the planet into a new ice age. Seraphs formed a new government and insinuated themselves into everyday life. In the decades since the apocalypse, new races have emerged, as a result of human and seraph couplings. As a stone mage, Thorn has the ability to bend leftover creation energy to her will, or in laymen's terms, the ability to bond with the elements of nature and perform magic. This newfound ability comes with high costs, specifically human hostility and a life of seclusion in a compound.
Due to events that aren't completely made clear, Thorn can't live among her own kind. At the age of fourteen, she went into hiding in a small town nestled in the Appalachians. There, Thorn has managed to take up a trade, build a business and create a decent life making her living as a jewelry designer and one of three partners in a jewelry business. She's also been married and happily helped raise her stepdaughter, Ciana. All seems well until her ex-husband's kidnapping forces her into action. From that point on Thorn increasingly relies on her instincts, friends and innate mage abilities.
There is much to enjoy in Bloodring. Hunter's descriptions of life in a small town are dead on; down to the small dating pool and the fear of encouraging the wrath of a church elder (minister, preacher, what have you). The secondary characters are multidimensional; with everyone from the mule train master to the evil minions of darkness having a distinct personality. They also tend to talk and act like real people with real frailties. Even though Thorn feels alienated by her secret, she lives in a functional, supportive environment. Hunter effortlessly blends the biblical into elements of high fantasy. The easy integration of religion, theology and magic into the every day are reminiscent of Sharon Shinn's Samaria books and Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series. Yet, Hunter has endowed Bloodring with its own unique twist.
There are a few places where Hunter's vision falters a bit, especially when it comes to the romantic aspects of the plot. Thorn's primary object of romantic interest appeals to her mostly because of his genetic makeup. When a mage and an angelic being are in close proximity they both experience an overwhelming desire to have sex - "mage-heat". The concept is brought up repeatedly; hindering the flow of the story. The idea of "mage-heat" seems to borrow shamelessly from Laurell K. Hamilton's concept of the "ardeur". It's a device that Hamilton has used over and over in her recent work to cover radically inconsistent behavior in her main character, Anita Blake. Hopefully, Hunter will avoid falling into that same trap.
There are also inconsistencies in the world Hunter has built. For instance, horses are the most common form of transportation, but cell phones and television still exist. People rely on trading and salvaging to get basic necessities but the internet is still a flourishing avenue for trade. Also, the human's incendiary reaction to mages doesn't completely ring true. Thorn is in constant fear of being discovered, and if captured expects to be raped and tortured before meeting a grizzly demise. That doesn't seem consistent with a world trying to rebuild itself after cataclysmic events, but then again that might be too idealistic.
Nevertheless, the world Hunter has wrought is an intriguing one. Deft characterizations, realistic dialogue, and excellent plot pacing combine to create a story that is both gripping and believable.
There is also real trouble with the world building in this story, though Faith Hunter gets some points for at least trying to create a robust future landscape. In a very under-explained fashion, we learn that the story takes place about 100 years after the aforementioned apocalypse, which killed 99% of the human population and instituted a new seraphic regime, while also badly altering the earth's climate. Oddly, human society is largely unchanged (particularly in business and commerce) and after a mere century several new supernatural and semi-supernatural races have developed full histories and complete understanding of their new powers. Granted, this novel is pretty entertaining and you'll like the few characters that are actually given the chance to rise above the vague or stereotypical, and Faith Hunter manages to make this a mostly self-contained story with a pretty good cliffhanger at the end, thus avoiding the most common weakness of books that are written in series. However, the rest of the series will only be of interest to readers who don't mind books that unabashedly jump on a currently hot bandwagon. [~doomsdayer520~]
I found the first half of this book to be a very frustrating read. I did not have much of a clue what was going on in the novel, and just when things started to become clear new revelations would be made, further confusing Thorn's identity. I enjoy a little mystery to a character, but this book could have used just a little more back story sooner for everything to make more sense. The book loosely follows biblical aspects, and at root is a war between good and evil. Thorn is on the side of "light" and makes stands against the evil "darkness" that tries to hurt the ones she loves. She is a very strong character, and when she sets out to do something she perseveres, not matter the risk to herself. One aspect I didn't care for was the "mage-heat," it is portrayed as this all consuming desire, but never seems to serve a true purpose in the book other than to "throw a wrench" into things for Thorn, possibly in future books it will have more meaning, but for this book I just didn't feel it was necessary. Poor Thorn had enough thrown at her without it. Thorn's personality, her "voice," is great and her world is interesting, however the story was hard to follow at times. The ending resolution was only a partial one, and the peace Thorn gains seems tentative at best. With how the ending played out, there is definite potential for this series, and I think as more about Thorn's true identity and past are revealed, the better it will get.
I didnt like this book. To me, it was dull and boring. The main character constantly overthinks and spends a lot of her time trying resisting her desires, as if to make sure the reader understands that women have sexual urges too. I felt it was boring and repetitious.
But what I noticed, was that the style of this book is very similar to that of two other female writers I have read: Rachel Caine and Laurell K. Hamilton. They also have a female lead, who constantly overthinks and spends most of their trying to overcome their sexual desires.
Then I went back to the reviews of this book. Most of the people who wrote reviews and gave it 4 or 5 stars were women.
So basically this is a book written by women for women, or at least written in a way that women can connect with.
Next time I skim the ratings and reviews, I'm going to have to take note of the sex of both the author and the reviewers, before I choose. It's not something I'd considered before this book.
Would I recommend this book?
If you are female, then yes. If you are a guy, I'd say maybe.
ps: I meant to rate it 2 stars, not 3, but when I tried to edit it, it wouldnt let me.