Review: A Time of Blood (Of Blood and Bone #2) by John Gwynne

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis

Defy the darkness. Defend the light.

Drem and his friends flee the battle at Starstone Lake to warn the Order of the Bright Star. They’ve witnessed horrors they’ll never forget, such as magic warping men into beasts. But worst of all, they’ve seen a demon rise from the dead – making it even more powerful. Now Fritha, the demons’ high priestess, is hunting Drem’s party.

Concealed in Forn Forest, Riv struggles to understand her half-breed heritage. She represents the warrior angels’ biggest secret, one which could break their society. And when she’s found by the Ben-Elim’s high captain, he swoops in for the kill.

As demonic forces multiply, they send a mighty war-host to overthrow the angel’s stronghold. This could decimate the fractured Ben-Elim. And their allies in the Order may be too overwhelmed to send aid – with Fritha and her monstrous beasts closing in. Like heroes of old, Drem and the Bright Star’s warriors must battle to save their land. But can the light triumph when the dark is rising?

Review

Thanks to the publisher and author for a finished copy of A Time of Blood (Of Blood and Bone #2) in exchange for an honest review. Receiving a copy of the book did not influence my thoughts or opinions on the novel.

Have I told you guys how much I love John Gwynne? His writing ability is obvious, but he is genuinely one of the nicest and most engaging human beings I have met via social media. He is one of only a handful of authors who will literally answer each and every tweet, DM, etc. sent his way, and I don’t mean with just a one or two word response. Can we have more authors like him?

A Time of Blood (Of Blood and Bone #2) is an engaging and praiseworthy successor to the phenomenal A Time of Dread. Think of it like a 500 page ‘Battle of the Bastards’ but with angels and demons and bears, OH MY. Battle lines are drawn, armies are weaponized, and all-out chaos is on the brink. This is epic fantasy at its finest and we are not worthy.

What I really enjoy about Gwynne’s writing has to be his characters. Each one is fully fleshed-out with a backstory, present-tense engagement, and motivation for a future of their own making. While there is an overall tone of good vs evil, there is a harsh shade of gray that looms over the entire battlefield and its surrounding areas. We see characters with obvious external conflict, but also the internal as they attempt to pick a winning side or figure out just who they really are. Those we see as friends, some even becoming like family, have only schemed their way into the fold and their true colors are shown as the skies begin to darken.

Since Book 2 is practically a seamless transition from Book 1, the world-building schematics have already been laid out for your pleasure, but we dig a little deeper into certain sections this time around. A few things that are more built-on this time around are the characters and creatures of the world. Much like Book 1, we are given four (4) POVs, three (3) of which we are familiar with from the previous novel, and a new one which revolves around Fritha who is a priestess and captain of the Kadoshim’s covens. Though Drem is still my favorite (which it is difficult to not pick him), Fritha’s backstory and motivations are of high interest as the book plays out, giving us insight into her upbringing and what clicked to lead her down this path.

Oh, and I mentioned creatures. Holy moly, there are so many! Giants, giant worms, demons, bears, crows, ‘ferals’, etc. Has a very Tolkein-esque quality to it that I absolutely loved. Honestly, just missing wizards and hobbits, but I digress. Every single creature in this book plays a role, and several are given human-like qualities that actually give the reader a bit more engagement opportunity through emotional attachment.

Gwynne had firmly established himself as one of my go-to authors for epic fantasy after I read Malice (and no, I haven’t finished The Faithful and The Fallen series and I am a terrible book blogger), but Of Blood and Bone continues to cement him as a “drop everything you are doing right now” author and I can bet he will do the same for you.

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