The Bloodforged is Lindsey’s follow-up to The Bloodbound, which I reviewed last week. After cracking open The Bloodforged it is immediately clear thatThe Bloodforged is Lindsey’s follow-up to The Bloodbound, which I reviewed last week. After cracking open The Bloodforged it is immediately clear that this is a much, much stronger book. The addition of new character perspectives goes a long way in making The Bloodforged a more complex and compelling fantasy story, and leaves the reader wanting more.
The Bloodforged picks up a few months after the events in The Bloodbound. The war continues to rage on; however, Alden’s forces are flagging and without reinforcements it is likely that the kingdom will fall. Erik White, king of Alden, proposes a risky, diplomatic plan. To gain the much-needed reinforcements Alden will have to seek out allies and convince them to join their fight. Erik and his bodyguard, Alix, will cross the border to win over the King of the Harrami, and Erik’s brother, Liam, will venture to Onnan city to see why their allies are delaying in providing help. If these diplomatic missions fail, Alden may fall. It's also risky to, you know, send the king and his heir off on this missions during a war. Should they fall, the leadership of Alden will be in flux.
Readers of the previous book will recall that Alix and Liam have recently wed, so neither are thrilled to be separated. The complicate love-triangle of The Bloodbound is mostly resolved (thank goodness!) and plays little part in The Bloodforged. However, that’s not to say that the author has not fleshed out the relationship between Alix and Liam. Creating a lot of dimension to Alix and Liam’s relationship is the addition of Liam’s narrative. Readers are finally treated to what’s going through Liam’s mind and his struggle in being a prince of the realm. A diplomacy mission’s not exactly his preferred task, soldiering it what he wants to do and he's not at all convinced that he's right man for the job he's given. How refreshing to have a guy character feel vulnerable and ineffective. Yes please, let's have some more.
What I also liked about the relationship element in The Bloodforged is the fact that Alix is also struggling with the changing dynamics in her relationship with her husband. In the previous book, Liam was an anonymous, illegitimate young man. Alix cared for him, but a relationship seemed impossible. Now that they have married and Liam is a prince, Alix has to deal with the fact that Liam no longer lives in her shadow; her wants are not always going to come first. I think this adds some great tension to their relationship and I would have liked there to have been more time spent exploring this. However, Alix and Liam spend the bulk of the book apart on their respective missions. Here's hoping that the next book plays with this conflict a bit more.
Another fabulous addition to the book is the heightened presence of Alix’s brother, Rig Black. Like Liam’s perspective, Rig allows the story to focus on another part of the war effort, specifically the front lines of the battle. This plot thread provides readers with the bulk of the action in the story, as well as a small romance plot. Rig is a great character and a nice counterpoint to both Liam and Erik.
Ultimately, there is a lot going on in The Bloodforged but instead of creating an unnecessarily complicated plot, readers are giving a more considered story than its predecessor. Characters are further developed, the world is more fully explored, and plot is moved in an unanticipated direction. Given the ending of the book, I can’t wait to return to this world and see how Alix and Liam are going to resolve the latest problem. And, if I’m honest, I hoping for more of a focus on Alix and Liam’s relationship; there’s a lot of meat there and I’d like to see the author take advantage of the potential for conflict. The first installment may not have impressed, but The Bloodforged succeeds in giving readers a story to be invested in.