As Caldan and his companions flee the city, horrors from the time of the Shattering begin to close in.
With Miranda’s mind broken by forbidden sorcery, Caldan is forced to disobey the most sacrosanct laws of the Protectors if he is to have any chance of healing her.
But when one of the emperor’s warlocks arrives to take control of him, he begins to suspect his burgeoning powers may be more of a curse than a blessing, and that the enemies assailing the empire may be rivaled by even more sinister forces within.
When he was eleven, Mitchell Hogan was given the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to read, and a love of fantasy novels was born. He spent the next ten years reading, rolling dice, and playing computer games, with some school and university thrown in. Along the way he accumulated numerous bookcases' worth of fantasy and sci-fi novels and doesn’t look to stop anytime soon.
His first attempt at writing fantasy was an abysmal failure and abandoned after only one page. But ideas for characters and scenes continued to come to him and he kept detailed notes of his thoughts, on the off chance that one day he might have time to write a novel. For a decade he put off his dream of writing until he couldn’t stand it anymore. He knew he would regret not having tried to write the novel percolating inside his head for the rest of his life. Mitchell quit his job and lived off dwindling savings, and the support of his fiancé, until he finished the first draft of A Crucible of Souls.
He now writes full time and is eternally grateful to the readers who took a chance on an unknown author.
A Crucible of Souls won the 2013 Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel.
Mitchell lives in Sydney, Australia, with his wife, Angela, and daughters, Isabelle and Charlotte.
Blood of Innocents is a tale that unfolds with the precision of an excellent smith-crafted timepiece, sporting a compelling and easy to read style.
The story itself captures a time when the young protagonist has to leave everything behind for a second time in his life, and travel to unknown waters with people he doesn't trust, only to realize that the world isn't the place he thought it to be. Mitchell is using the circumstances he crafted to his advantage, realistically depicting how a young boy will react when confronting prejudices of his own and others.
“Apply reason and evidence to the problems around you. Reach conclusions, then test them. See if your deductions stand up to testing. Only then will you know real truth.”
Blood of Innocents has an excellent pace, with interesting circumstances occurring once in a while, keeping your interest while building momentum for the finale. What is great with Sorcery Ascendant Sequence, is that the protagonist, Caldan, isn't a "chosen one", someone that will excel in every aspect and save his world, as with most epic fantasy series nowadays. Caldan is a young boy that happens to be in the wrong place at the right time, trying to survive, and help himself and those around him. My only (minor) problem with this book, is that a lot of time is spent in other POVs such as Felice and Vasile, that aren't really interesting (with the exception of Amerdan, whose chapters are equally entertaining as Caldan's).
All in all, Blood of Innocents is a great book and a lovely continuity to A Crucible of Souls, and now it's the perfect time for you to pick it up, since "A Shattered Empire", the third and final installment of the Sorcery Ascendant Sequence, is out for publication within a few days.
Have you ever came across a new tv-show, decided to watch it, had a great time watching it and when you finished, you were eagerly waiting for the next season. And then came the next season. You start watching thinking you’re going to have a good time and it turns out to be nothing like the previous season and you’re just left wondering what the hell happened?! That is exactly how I felt after reading this book.
I enjoyed the first book, it wasn’t something groundbreaking but I had a good time, the story was intriguing and so were the characters. It ended with a cliffhanger and a lot of questions were left unanswered and I expected to find some of those answers in this book and instead I got more questions.
I had two big issues with this book. The first issue is the story, it simply didn’t move forward, every time when it took a little step forward it almost immediately took two steps back, like it was stuck in a loop and halfway through I wanted to pull the plug on this series. But I forced myself to continue hoping something will happen besides characters resolving their personal issues and it did, but unfortunately it happened in the last ten percent of the book. It is suffice to say that the pacing was a huge problem.
Second and the biggest issue was the main character. We learned in the first book that he is a great Dominion player. Dominion is something like a very advanced chess. So in order to play it you have to be smart. Great in Dominion equals intelligence. Well, not in this case. He was so gullible and naive most of the time that it was almost painful to read. Seriously, it even got me mad. I can understand the motives behind his actions but to always seek acceptance from the people who are rejecting him (Protectors) and to worry what will they think of him even though he doesn’t trust them is borderline stupid!
There are a couple of things I liked. I enjoyed Felicienne’s story arc the most. She was the highlight of this book and the only character who tried to take some actions and move the story forward unlike the rest of the characters who were mostly moving in circles. I also liked Aidan’s story arc and confrontations of his crew with the Jukari.
Maybe my expectations were too high but I was hoping that this book would be even better than the first one. Sadly, I was wrong. Even though I had big issues with this book I will continue with the series because I really want to see how will things play out and because I want some answers damn it!
I hope that the last book in the series, A Shattered Empire, will redeem this series and that my hopes will remain unshattered.
A really hard book to rate. I thought for a while it was going to far surpass book one but there were too many head scratchers. Biggest one Calden is supposed to be a Dominion mastermind (think three dimensional chess like Star Trek) which we're repeatedly reminded makes him super smart and able to look many steps ahead and yet he's blundering through most of the book. Especially .
Second myself and everybody reading it in our group read book one not that long ago and we all had such a hard time remembering who was who. I can keep Malazan straight.
That said the book flowed and the action was good. I want to read book three to see the author put it all together and have some of these loose strings be brilliant on his part and not the meandering WTF's the currently are.
Update 29th May 2014: Blood of Innocents has now been released!
Update 2nd May 2014: For those readers eager to know the release date, I am aiming for early June 2014. There's been a slight delay due to some health issues with my 11 month old daughter (who is doing fine by the way!). Update 2: Apparently Goodreads has emailed everyone stating the book is out. My apologies, I had no idea this would happen! As I said above, it's another 5-6 weeks away.
As the author of this book I'm not going to rate it, but I thought I'd take this chance to comment about what's happened and what I wanted to achieve with book 2.
When sales of ACoS took off I was shocked, and immensely grateful to everyone who'd taken a chance on the first book of an indie author. After a month or so I realized I'd be able to write full time as I was making a living doing what I loved. I'm living the dream and for that I will be forever thankful.
As of today, 2nd December 2013, the first draft of Blood of Innocents is complete and I've started revising. Professional editing should be complete sometime in Feb-March 2014 and hopefully the book will be published in March 2014. That's 8 months between books, which I think is pretty good but I still want to write faster!
ACoS lacked a little on the action side so I wanted Blood of Innocents to have a much faster pace all the way through. A better balance of action, adventure, character building/development, dramatic tension and world building. I hope I've achieved that, but as always it's you the readers who'll be the judges and it's your opinion that matters most. As a slight teaser Lady Felicienne Shyrise becomes one of the POV characters, and her scenes were fun and very easy to write.
I hope you enjoy this book and that it lives up to the standards you expect. I'd love to hear what you think and try to answer every email so feel free to drop me a line at mitchhoganauthor(at)gmail(dot)com
3.5 stars, could have been 4 stars if not for the pacing! This was a good book which I enjoyed. Had it been a hundred pages shorter, I would have enjoyed it more and I know exactly where I might have used an editing pen! Hogan has a way of investing the reader in characters where there is little pay off- they get killed off or they add little to the actual story. I don't want to be too specific in case I spoil it for readers. Having said that, it is still an interesting read and the author has a chance to redeem all in the final instalment of the trilogy where hopefully the story is all going to come together and resolve all our unanswered questions.
Writing the second book in a fantasy trilogy isn't easy. There are many factors to consider, especially if the first book was a hit (A Crucible of Souls was). There are reader expectations to now manage and exceed, and a story that not only needs to develop but also be improved upon from the first book. Unfortunately, many authors fall short in this endeavour, leading to the rise of the term 'middle book syndrome'.
Fortunately, Hogan is not one of those authors.
Blood of Innocents not only exceeded my expectations, it smashed through them and swept past cackling and lobbing magical lightning at all in its path.
Beginning where A Crucible of Souls finished, Caldan finds himself on the run with a ragtag group of companions. Events are spiralling out of control around him, as he struggles to help the woman he cares for in a world filled with former allies, and new and powerful enemies. The Empire is under threat, and legends of pasts evils may not turn out to be legends after all.
I loved so many different things about this book, from it's Tolkienesque world building through to its many sword and sorcery moments, that I could literally write for days. But I have to keep it as concise as possible. So here goes.
Blood of Innocents is not constrained by tropes, and therein lies its brilliance. Hogan has shown where a writer can take a fantasy story and still please fans of a more traditional vein with this book. The construction and expansion of the world is well thought out, and the magical systems in place rival Sanderson in their design and originality (warlocks, coercive and destructive sorcery... hell yes). There is admittedly a lot of description to work through, but Hogan's universe needed to grow in this book in order to set things up for the final volume of the trilogy.
The story itself unfolds at an enthralling and rapid pace, with many moments where I felt as though as I was an actual companion on the road with Caldan, fleeing those who were hunting us. It is hard to achieve that level of intimacy with a story, but Hogan does it with ease whilst also incorporating spades of moral ambiguity and grit into the plot. The lines between good and evil become very blurry the further in you get.
The action itself is incredibly intense and brilliantly choreographed, and the sorcery battles have to be read to be believed (I've read some great magical battles, and Hogan is right up there with the best). Climaxing wonderfully, the ending leaves you wanting the next book straight away so you can continue the adventure.
Blood of Innocents is what I want from a fantasy book in every way, shape, and form. Entertaining, enthralling, and moving, it has been my favourite read of the year so far.
A wonderful follow-up that fuses Tolkien, Salvatore, and Moorcock, Blood of Innocents is truly magnificent. I cannot wait for the final book in the trilogy!
The book is ultimately a 3.5 stars. Amazing last 20% but very slow first 50%. Most of the book seems to place the people in the right spot. Yet, Caldan's story line was extremely slow. Provided that I believe his decision were driven by a relateable situation (trying to save a loved one), the story line itself was very plain, at least in my opinion. There is a significant development in the last 10% of the book - which makes me incredibly intrigued for the new installment of the series. Plus, how amazing was that fight, including the grand entrance of the emperor? I was really looking forward to having him as part of the series!
Caldan keeps being this good guy, trying to do the right thing and I like this about him. This year I tended to read more ambiguous characters and I like to know that Caldan is a more straightforward good guy - nothing around him seems to maintain the facade that it had in the first book so Caldan's moral compass is a good guidance. The story line I liked the most and I could not wait to read more about was Vasile and Aidan; and I genuinely liked cel Rau. I truly enjoyed it; a group genuinely battling against the monsters, actual monsters which aim is to destroy the world. Provided that the group itself might have less than clear morals - or better, to achieve the ultimate goal they might be doing unspeakable things including but not limited to murder, I enjoyed the fact the enemy is a clear menace to humanity, including the Jakari. Lady Felicienne is always amazing, powerful, strong, clever, brave. This is a great character, and I still want to read the short story dedicated to her background. While I did not particularly like Bells, I am really creeped out by Amerdan. He is just really sociopathic, serial killer and I find I like the consistency by which he is interpreted.
Off to the last book in the series, hoping it will keep up with the high standard of the last part of this book!
I read book 1 and 2 back to back, so my comments span both books. I feel that some of it was okay and some of it was I liked it, but there isn't a 2.5 star option.
Anyhow, some of the cons: 1) I still wonder if this is a young adult book. The Main Character's conversation, actions, and story feel childish, compared to what else is going on, and all the back story. If it is, then I apologize for my ratings.
2) The magic system is interesting, however his only attack is blowing up his creations, but he is the only one who can do this so far? And it's really like he is throwing grenades and land mines against the real sorcerers.
3) With the amount of "destructive magic is evil" and the protectors out there, and the school settings, one would think that someone could detect lies. His stories are all lies and half truths, that seem to win over the masters, and then more trouble happens. Heck, even an normal teacher should be able to get a sense of when his student is lying without magical means.
4) Just the overall flow (lets chase these 5 monsters, kill one, lets run away before the rest follow) and the random chapter for some random character for POV back story just make it odd.
5) italics for "Craftings" and "Trinkets" got old on page 4. I get that he is trying to say they are special, and that crafting isn't the verb, it is a noun. But if he had called the trinkets (items of great power by the way) something like "Artifacts" and then he could have called his craftings "Trinkets" and skipped italics all together. Then everyone would know, "Oh, artifacts are like real artifacts and are rare or powerful, and trinkets are like real trinkets of low value".
When this book ended I didn't want it to be over. I think we can all agree that this is the number one sign off a good read.
That's not to say that this book is something special. It's your garden variety epic fantasy about an extra special youth caught in the middle of two warring empires and the possible end of everything. It's up to him to reach his true potential and save all that he loves in the process. Nothing new here. But anyone who had read any of my reviews knows that I don't need a special book with all new ideas. I just need a good story and this book is that.
Despite a lack luster magic system, this book is engaging and fun almost the whole way through. The thing that I liked the most about it was that it takes a grimdark view of good and evil without being grimdark. With the exception of the main character Caldan, the reader never knows who is good and who is not or if anyone of the characters even fit into this dichotomy.
Like the first book, the thing that stands out the most is that this book is beautifully written. I've rarely read a more fluidly written book.
Very good book. Continuation of the story. Enjoyable and easy to read, good pace. Characters are developing nicely. Still a bit of mystery around the plot, but I think it is fairly guessable. Amsterdam and Sudan are probably the most interesting characters. Moving on to book three now.
Okay, I liked the first volume in this series a bit more than this, the second. Now, I don't know if this is a "trilogy" or a "series". That said I couldn't help (as I was reading) thinking of the old "second volume" curse. It used to be almost accepted that the second volume of a trilogy would slow down some compared to the first as the writer lined up their "pieces" and moved everything into position for the climax.
That seems to be true here. We pick up our story and start following events as move (even spin) forward. There were times I though that the story line was beginning to spin (as I said) out of control a little. Our hero is not quite the "man" we saw him developing into before. he continually makes decisions that seem to be not only illogical but counter intuitive. He is so caught up in undoing what's been done to his "perspective love interest" that he does things that make absolutely no sense.
I mean you'll see him doing things that it seems to me he should have realized that in the long run will do just the opposite of what he intends.
Well, much more and I'll be giving spoilers. Let me simply say that this book does hold the interest (mostly). While there were times I was indifferent about getting back to it I still have hope for the series as a whole.
This one is flawed but very readable and I plan to follow it up. Not memorable, not the best but if you read the first I can recommend this one.
Before I get into anything I didn't care for let me just say that Mitchell Hogan can write and I enjoyed this book.
It was a flawed book.
I loved the first book in the series and this book picks up pretty much where the last left off. This series is really just one big story split into three books.
The characters were f'ing amazing and that's why I kept turning those pages and couldn't wait to get back to it. Read the book. It's good.
Why not 5 stars? It was flawed. We spend a lot of time following the adventures of a couple people doing really exciting things but there is a big story arc and 99% of this book ignores the bigger picture even though the bigger picture story should be what is driving the plot.
Not sure if I'm articulating it how I would like.
The characters should do fun interesting things to move the story along and the story is a grand sweeping fantasy adventure. But all too often in this book the characters are doing fun interesting things but it isn't moving the plot along.
At the end of the day I love this series and I enjoyed this book, just not as much as the first in the series. I can't wait to read the next book and let's be serious - I really recommend this series and this author.
In the first book the characters developed individually and in their relationships in a moderately satisfying way. The protagonist's naive nature and feckless enthusiasm were excusable because he had grown up in a sheltered environment. In this book ,however, all of the characters just act as foils to progress a very predictable plot. Caldan is shocked, over and over, that he isn't taken seriously by people in power. This is really painful to read. It's like watching a bad horror movie where the irrational actions of the characters just make you want to punch them. And it is made worse by the fact that Caldan is supposed to be this strategic genius who is great at reading patterns and people. And he shifts between offhandedly slaughtering enemies, and being appalled that he has done something so callous as to strike a lady! (The lady in question being a murderous sorceress).
All this ends up just making it impossible to understand his motivations or maintain respect for a character which the first book managed decently. Hogan got lazy with this book and instead of working on character development and finding ways to flow forward the plot from there just makes up absurd situations and conclusions to ram forward to the next story line.
Also, he repeatedly uses the "I don't have time to explain right now" ploy to avoid characters from understanding what they need to, when there is never actually a shortage of time. Usually these phrases occur during the middle of journeys or preparation periods that are days or weeks long, and the explanation would take maybe 30 seconds. No time while making a campfire, or during eating, or before sleep? I don't mind suspending disbelief but it's much easier to get lost in a story if you maintain realistic premises for inter-character tension and lack of clarification.
You should really cut the healer character out of this story. She just whines and moans and has really flimsy motivations. Basically playing the part of "moral compass" (badly) to keep Caldan from treating Bells like the villain she is and getting crucial info out of her.
This is a really disappointing follow-up to an otherwise good series (first book). The problem is with the change in the main character. He was enjoyable to read in book #1. There's some progession, he has developed motivations, he acts intelligently and bravely, his love interest is interesting, his interaction with his mentor and the world is interesting etc etc.
All those things are terminated in the second book. The main character acts stupidly or naively over and over. All his conversations include or reference helping Miranda. When pressed by any other character he struts like a bantom rooster then backs down and apologises. The combination makes for a very monotonous and frustrating read.
I'm not often compelled to write bad reviews, but this was a huge change to the first book, felt like the author was at a loss as to where to take the story, or didn't understand what was really enjoyable about the first book.
This review is for both books but the 2nd one stuck out more.
Had potential but the dialogue, the writing itself felt like it needed editing. There were parts that could've been shortened, polished or altogether scrapped out! The wordings and language felt forced, clumsy. The whole book felt clumsy! I enjoyed, I admit, it but I had to make myself plow through the less than okay writing.
Even the so-called "scheming and plotting" of the characters were at best childish, not well thought out (for being smart, resourceful professionals...ahem!) and at worst dumb. Most of the main and side characters' reasoning were very immature and at times illogical. The story was confusing, too. Or maybe I was too frustrated to follow? I skipped and skimmed so much that maybe this review is now biased but you can only go so far.
I did like story despite all the cliches. It was entertaining but could only go so far. Will read the next books just so I can find out what's gonna happen.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I truly enjoyed this book. I'm not some pretentious literary snob, although after reading over 20k books, I feel that my conclusions have some comparative value. I've read 5+ books a day with very few exceptions since I was 17; do the math. In any case, I merely have one requirement for me to continue any series. Specifically, that I, as a reader, am entertained. If I am distracted by convoluted, or disjointed writing it ceases to be entertaining.
These two books, both of which I've read back-to-back, were entertaining.
Mr. Hogan, though, has provided us readers with a good story minus the distractions that many novice authors works are often bombarded with. As each story is unique, I'm not of the "it's been done to death" snobbery, I see way too much in critiques. Yes, themes are common. So what?
It comes with a heavy heart to say that I did not like the way this book ended. The beginning has a promising start and was engaging, towards the end of book felt like a deflated balloon. I did not like the actions of the characters as they were established in the first novel (which I loved by the way). The book could have been a lot shorter as the main character Caldan is constantly talking about Miranda and nothing ever progresses. Overall I was excited for the 3rd book but after this one I might give it a break and wait a little bit before proceeding.
This book is an example of a strange phenomenon I find amongst the epic-fantasy genre that for the life of me I just don't understand. It is a phenomenon shared even by juggernaut fantasy series like Raymond E Feist's Riftwar Cycle and Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, to name just two of the biggest names out there that have this in common. That phenomenon is pushing aside their protagonists.
These series spend the first novel getting you attached to the main character (Pug in the Riftwar Cycle, Rand in The Wheel of Time, and Caldan here), then giving you increasingly less time with that character with each subsequent novel. It is a bizarre thing to do because one of the most important things to do as an author is to get your reader attached to your protagonist. A strong attachment to the protagonist will carry a reader through a bad book, a slow narrative, and a myriad of other problems that might plague an author's work. Therefore it is utterly baffling to me why an author would ever throw them aside.
This is the case in this novel. Caldan went from the primary viewpoint character for over two-thirds of the previous novel to being little more than a secondary character here. He does get POV chapters in this book, but only for a third of the time if I'm generous, but more likely for a quarter of the novel. Replacing him are a variety of different stories that I am vaguely interested in at best, and can't be bothered with at worst. To make matters worse, sometimes it felt like we were only with Caldan just to keep him relevant to the story rather than giving him anything of worth to do.
This is a huge change from the previous novel where Caldan was one of the most exciting and proactive protagonists I have read about in a long time. If he wasn't relevant to a storyline you got the sense that was only because he hadn't got around to it yet. However, in this story, he is barely relevant until the last act.
It's a huge disappointment because I loved the first novel so much. I never thought after reading that book that I would finish the second one with the thought of, "Thank god there's only one more of these to go."
Basically this book was just another disappointing sequel in a genre filled with high-potential false starts. I credited the last book with reminding me why I used to love reading epic fantasy novels with a large word count. Well, this novel has reminded me why I don't do that so much anymore.
It's 3-stars because I read to the end and I am still interested enough to see how it finishes, but overall I'm hugely disappointed.
In many ways, a better novel than its predecessor; the rate of event development and pacing is much more improved, a number of characters have gained more complexity, and it still is very easy to read and visualize.
However. The main issue with the.. main character is not solved - Caldan is pretty much the archetype of "the young hero". His only seeming weakness is a slight bit of thick-headedness. And I'm not sure that there's much point to having a character as predictable and universally familiar as a lead.
Next up.. Miranda being delegated to the "sleeping beauty" role (or rather, the magically lobotomized beauty) really rankles. It's not as if this novel lacks strong female characters - far from it; Felice and Bells alone are good counterarguments to that. But, was it really necessary to give the flawless heroic "prince" lead a brain-dead (i.e. maximum helplessness) girl to obsess over? That is a rather tired cliche, and surely could have been avoided.
A Crucible of Souls was a good debut novel. The plot was intriguing, the characters were on the whole well fleshed out, and the world building was extremely competent. The book was one of the better reads of 2013 and I have been looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
Mitchell Hogan has outdone himself with Blood of Innocents. The first book was a promising debut from a new author, but Blood of Innocents is a book of which any seasoned author would be extremely proud of.
It is superior to the first book in almost every single respect. Hogan has expertly crafted a world that engrosses the reader, and the book contains many new (and often surprising) revelations that only make you want to find out more.
The first book was mainly focused on Caldan and on his exploits in Anasoma, and while Caldan does clearly remain the focus of the series in Blood of Innocents we are exposed to much more of the world than in the first book. There is plenty of intrigue in all of the plot lines, and the thrilling story will keep you engrossed from start to finish.
The potential of the magic system was clear from the first book, but was never fully developed. Blood of Innocents realises this potential and the magic system is fleshed out substantially throughout the book while leaving scope for even more development in the future. It is a superbly crafted system that benefits from its uniqueness, and I am extremely interested to see how it is developed further.
I devoured the book in a single day and could not recommend it more. This is an excellent book with a captivating story and I am eagerly awaiting the next instalment.
What can I say? This was an interesting novel, one that I struggled to finish because everything took forever to happen, the writer really needs to work on the pacing of his books.
The magic system continues to be interesting, but the sheer number of perspectives presented makes this series a pain to read. There are too many side stories happening, and yes they do all converge onto something, but that doesn't make things any less annoying, because you always want to know what the MC is up to, and the truth is that the stories of these side characters are not interesting at all.
I feel like this book as well, simply builds up for the events in the last book, as the first did, and that means that last book has to be pretty amazing in order to pull this one off, because once again, this book leaves on a cliff hanger.
I don't think I'm going to read the next book for a while. Even with all this building, I feel that the story does not warrant an interest strong enough to read the last book.
Great read. I love it when a book keeps me reading when I should be sleeping or doing something else. I really like the three dimensional characters from the heroic Caldan to the sadistic Amerdan and following their parts through the plot. I also like the light handed addition of Caldan's inner battle over whether using variations of magic makes you evil or if you make you who you are. There are a lot of plot strings and people I am looking forward to in the next book. I'm very curious to know more about Rebecci's people and who they are. Are they good guys, bad guys, or somewhere in between? Good stuff.
This was a very good book. I love the way Hogan built on the foundation he created in the first book. There's so much mystery in this world, as well as a healthy dose of action. The last part of this book featured some amazing action sequences. There are also some fascinating characters in this series, most notably Amerdan. I have to know what's going to happen in the last book.