“Magick ain’t pretty, it ain’t stars and sparkles. Magick is dirty. It’s rough. Raw. It’s blood and guts and vomit. You hear me?”
When Prime Lord Hark is found in a pool of his own blood on the steps of his halls, Tonmerion Hark finds his world not only turned upside down, but inside out. His father's last will and testament forces him west across the Iron Ocean, to the very brink of the Endless Land and all civilisation. They call it Wyoming.
This is a story of murder and family.
In the dusty frontier town of Fell Falls, there is no silverware, no servants, no plush velvet nor towering spires. Only dust, danger, and the railway. Tonmerion has only one friend to help him escape the torturous heat and unravel his father’s murder. A faerie named Rhin. A twelve-inch tall outcast of his own kind.
This is a story of blood and magick.
But there are darker things at work in Fell Falls, and not just the railwraiths or the savages. Secrets lurk in Tonmerion's bloodline. Secrets that will redefine this young Hark.
This is a story of the edge of the world.
Find out more at and choose your shade at: www.bengalley.com
Ben Galley is a British author of dark and epic fantasy books who currently hails from Vancouver, Canada. Since publishing his debut Emaneska Series, Ben has released the award-winning weird western Scarlet Star Trilogy and standalone The Heart of Stone, the critically-acclaimed Chasing Graves Trilogy, and the new Scalussen Chronicles.
When he isn’t conjuring up strange new stories or arguing the finer points of magic systems and dragon anatomy, Ben explores the Canadian wilds, sips Scotch single malts, and snowboards very, very badly. One day he hopes to haunt an epic treehouse in the mountains.
I can understand why the book was the favourite of 4 out of 10 judges in the contest and came 2nd from a field of 273.
I have praise for and gripes with almost every aspect of the book, though the praise outweighs the gripes.
Let's start with the cover, often a stumbling block for self-published work. It's a fine-looking cover and wouldn't look out of place on a bookshop shelf. I like it. On the other hand, the protagonist is a boy of 13 who doesn't use guns, so you might ask if a man with a rifle does the job. Also, there's plenty of magic in this book - it's a fantasy book - the cover says Western, but doesn't really hint at magic.
The writing next. It's good, strong writing. Galley does a number of things (I will enumerate them) writing-wise which annoy me. But for each annoyance there are three or four good things that remind me he can certainly write.
Writing pluses: The prose is smooth, has a good voice to it, carries humour and pathos as needed, and the descriptions are very good.
Things that annoyed me writing-wise: The writing occasionally addresses the reader directly in a way that reminds me I'm reading and kills the moment. Also, there's a fair bit of head-hopping which is quite distancing. Sometimes this head-hopping isn't even given a paragraph break. To be fair, Stephen King also does this! ...though he does it better.
The story seems to fall into two parts. We're not introduced to the main magical ingredient until page 200 or so. Up to that point we're in an alternate 1860/70 with warped versions of the British Empire and America. The only magic we're introduced to is in the form of magical beasts, like our young hero's companion faerie (a tough, armoured sword-wielding foul-mouthed faerie rather than a tutu-wearing wish-granting fairy). We also get second-hand tales of the magic used by the book's Native American analogues. This half of the story gets our protagonist from London to the wilds of Wyoming, and once you've swallowed the existence of the occasional faerie, rail-wraith, and tribal shaman it feels much like a Western.
Once we're introduced to the magic then the book changes character somewhat. I'm not going to SPOILER TAG the entire remaining review but be aware there are SPOILERS here relating to the magic system.
We learn that the book is called Bloodrush because our protagonist is a special person who can... blood-rush.
Now, let me first say that the magic system is a bit ... silly. I had this same problem, to a much lesser degree, with Brian McClellan's excellent Promise of Blood. The thing is - if (and it could be a big if) you can swallow the magic system, which for many fantasy fans shouldn't be a problem, then it's actually a great fun magic system with loads of possibilities. On the other hand, if your imagination or nature strains at incorporating the silliness of it into a straight-faced alternate Western setting ... then you're sunk.
I surprised myself by being able to buy into it, with just the odd twinge here and there.
Here's how it works.
The story itself has Merion's personal tragedy and battle to regain the upper-hand interwoven with the Western clash of frontier town, railroad vs 'Red Indian' culture clash. There are some splendid battles with Gattling guns and shamans that put me in mind of Myke Cole pitting the modern US army against goblin hordes, shamans and dragons. There's a family story of Merion and his newly discovered aunt. There's the politics of it all back in Blighty, and the mystery of how Merion's father died, and on top of it all the trouble Merion's fae-friend has got himself into. So there's a LOT going on.
By the end of the book many of the problems are actually resolved! Though there's enough still ongoing to promise plenty of trouble in book 2.
Anyway. This was, I think, the first Self-Published book I've read (I don't count Blood Song or A Theft of Swords as those were traditionally published by the time I read them). There were a small number of typographical errors and incorrect words, but I've seen as many such in some traditionally published books. The writing quality was plenty high enough to rank among the traditionally published work I've read in the past few years.
I enjoyed the book, it was a solid read, and great fun in a good number of places.
Bloodrush is an excellent western/fantasy hybrid with rich world building.
Really! The world building in this book is its stand out feature. Right from the time we encounter the protagonist and enter the Wild West, the details of the world stand out. I was totally engrossed for the first few chapters just find out more about it. Every new detail made me chuckle with pleasure.
The magic sorry, magick system is equally rich and as complex as any I have encountered before. The closest parallels I can find are Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn alloy system and Brian McClellan's Powder Mage system. As always, the protagonist is a savant but that is neither here nor there.
The story is pretty mundane (or has been in the first book) so far. I will be curious to see how it progresses and if there will something new to savor beyond the world building and magic systems.
Ben Galley's writing is, as always, excellent. There are great one-liners and dialogues. Characters have decent motivations but, barring the protagonist, no one else really has any development of any kind.
By the way, Tonmerion is one of the most whiny characters I have read and I wanted to throttle him every time he did something stupid. But here's the thing - he behaves exactly as you would expect a 13 year old privileged brat, who is out of his environment, to do. In that sense, Ben Galley has done a fantastic job in making us hate Tonmerion.
"When Prime Lord Hark is found in a pool of his own blood on the steps of his halls, Tonmerion Hark finds his world not only turned upside down, but inside out. His father's last will and testament forces him west across the Iron Ocean, to the very brink of the Endless Land and all civilisation. They call it Wyoming.
This is a story of murder and family.
In the dusty frontier town of Fell Falls, there is no silverware, no servants, no plush velvet nor towering spires. Only dust, danger, and the railway. Tonmerion has only one friend to help him escape the torturous heat and unravel his father's murder. A faerie named Rhin. A twelve-inch tall outcast of his own kind.
This is a story of blood and magick.
But there are darker things at work in Fell Falls, and not just the railwraiths or the savages. Secrets lurk in Tonmerion's bloodline. Secrets that will redefine this young Hark.
This is a story of the edge of the world."
The first novel that I picked to read from the next batch of SPFBO novels sent my way was Bloodrush, Ben Galley’s entry, and the western/fantasy blend instantly drew my eye along with the intriguing cover. The Western and fantasy genres are something that you’ll see blended together rarely, and it was the potential that attracted me to this book coupled with an interesting sounding plot of a man named Tonmerion Hark finding his life turned upside down when his father is found dead. As per his father’s last will and testament, Tonmerion is forced across the Atlantic to Wyoming, however, it’s not the Wyoming that you’ll be familiar with in the present day. This is a Wyoming that’s on the other side of the Iron Ocean, and stands at the edge of the Endless Land. Dark things haunt Fell Falls, combining fascinating beasts like railwraiths with intriguing plots and conspiracy. It’s a richly developed, compelling fantasy novel that twists our own history very well. I loved reading about the world, and it’s something that I’m going to return to for sure in the future. The book could have easily fallen short and not hit all the high notes, including almost too much stuff for one novel to hold, but thankfully, Bloodrush is well written enough to avoid that trap, blending the characters and pacing strongly together with the richness of the world building to create a compelling story.
Tonmerion Hark is the son of the Prime Lord, the recently deceased equivalent to the Prime Minister. The backdrop of the alternate version of Victorian Britain is handled very well and the era suits the novel perfectly. Tonmerion allows for an interesting protagonist, who also happens to have a best friend who isn’t exactly human, but a faerie named Rhin who is on the run from the rest of his race. This is a world where despite knowing that the Fae exist, few people have actually seen one in the flesh. It’s not the only change to the history of the world that readers can come to expect when they read Bloodrush, but for obvious reasons, is the most important one. Other touches like Red King Lincoln are also mentioned, providing some great depth the scope and scale of the world and plenty for Galley to explore in the future. From the beginning you’ll find yourself supporting and getting behind the lead character, as Tonmerion undergoes a coming-of-age transition when he journeys to America, with Rhin, a secondary character who works just as well as the other additions to the cast do. His Aunt Lillian, the reason behind his travel across the Iron Sea, and Lurker, Lillian’s friend, are other more prominent people who you can expect to feature. It’s an interesting mix of characters that work really well together and is something that's pulled off effectively.
Ben Galley’s Bloodrush then, is an incredibly strong read that fans of fantasy and or westerns should check out. It blends the two genres together very well, pitting the characters against the backdrop of an intriguing world that will appeal a lot to fans of the likes of Neil Gaiman (particularly if you’re a fan of American Gods) and Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. I can’t wait to see what Galley comes up with next and as a result, this is something that I can highly recommend.
Summary: When 13-year-old Merion's father (the Prime Lord of the Britan counterpart in this alternate reality world) is killed, Merion is sent to America to live with his aunt, where he will learn about his magic and generally make a nuisance of himself, while trying to find out who killed his father.
Thoughts: This is not a bad book, mostly it is a not-for-me book. The writing itself was quite good. I found the mash of western and fantasy interesting, and not just as a concept, it was quite well executed. I also enjoyed the fantasy creatures and Merion's bloodrushing power, which were a bit different from the norm.
The biggest thing I didn't enjoy was Merion; he is a whiny, entitled little shit who is determined to ignore all the good advice he's given. Least to say the book's attempts to make me sympathise with his situation failed every time he threw another tantrum.
Most of my other issues stem from a tendency of the book to value moving the plot along at the expense of everything else. As example, when the plot requires it there are; * many people willing to drop everything to help Merion for no apparent reason; * characters who keep information from Merion without a real explanation other than "he's not ready", which is a pet peeve of mine (e.g. Merion goes to this all knowing tree, the tree then refuses to tell him who killed his father, because "that's not the right question"); and * people in general making stupid decisions. I feel that most of these could have been solved with stronger characterisation and a tighter focus on Merion's personal goals. There's a lot going on in this book, and it doesn't do it any favours.
I suspect I would have liked this more if I wasn't over YA at the moment, and readers who enjoy YA might be pleasantly surprised.
Further note: while it has not affected my rating, there is something uncomfortable about reading a book where the Native American counterpart people are described as "more animal than human" in an attempt to turn them into elfish creatures. I'm not in a position to meaningfully critique how the author treats these people and the culture from which he has borrowed, but at best this seems problematic and Native American readers may want to avoid.
Much, much love and 4,5* for this one! 2016 really has mostly great books in stock for me.
It takes quite a while to really take off, but I was submerged right from the start anyway. So I won't take a star for it. If you are looking for a "thrown right in the action" start, you might mind it more than me though. It also has slower parts in the middle, where we just live day to day live in the desert town of Fell Falls with the main character - not much action in there either, but I found it quite interesting anyway.
I really like the main character, even though he quite often acts out of character for a 13 year old. Don't believe this is a YA book, due to the young protagonist - it most certainly is not. It has some quite grim, bloody and gory parts. It also has a lot of dark humor, that I absolutely adore! This book had me snorting and grinning all the way through. Bloodthirsty swearing, murderous fairies, an aunt who is working as an undertaker, an often drunken vagabond for a friend and monsters containing of railroad parts make for an amazing read! The balance between humor, blood, action, plot, character development, worldbuilding and magic was just perfect for me.
The prose was really good, and kept me engaged all the way through. The book sometimes directly addresses the reader, something I usually hate, as it throws me out of the story - but somehow with this one it didn't bother me - maybe because the rest kept me so well grounded in the story.
1/4 star missing for some typos and errors along the way, and another 1/4 for the "magick", that could have played a way bigger part in the story - some other magical creatures made up for part of it though.
This might not be for everyone - but it was right up my alley, and I already bought the whole trilogy!
I do loathe the rating system on here, what I would like to give this book is 4.5 stars, and so to hell with rules, it's getting 4.5. To elaborate on that, for me, if I give a book 3 stars it means I enjoyed it, if it gets 4 it means I really enjoyed it, if it gets 5 then it flat out knocked me on my arse.
This book is self published. Why say that you ask? Because it does not feel like it is. You hold this book and you know you are holding a quality product. While the cover doesn't make the greatest sense in terms of what lies within, it is a great one nonetheless. It has a few typos and grammatical hic ups but no more that many traditionally published books I've read. So, yeah... I was mightily impressed by the professionalism displayed here by Mr Galley.
Ok, so I love fantasy but I'm not a big lover of magic/mystical and mythical creatures. So having read the blurb I wasn't overly sure I would enjoy it. Thankfully, I was wrong! The whole magic/magick system doesn't come in till around half way, and when it did I found myself enjoying the story all the more... weird (for me I mean) The cast is small which means relationships between characters has a lot of room for development and is handled really nicely. The story itself is split between a dark fantasy enhanced 19th century London and the hot desert town of Fell Falls in Wyoming. Bold... remember. I thought Ben was being brave here, and that I might cringe with each turn of the page. Nope—not a bit of it. The story is focused, this I like, it doesn't drift off and deter from the threads that get you all amped up. There are a few niggles that I wasn't so hot on, like the narrative on a few occasions interacted directly with the reader. And POV shifts were sometimes sudden. But I must say it lessened as the story went on, which is a sign of a writer improving. Another good thing!
Galley's strongest talent by a country mile is his powers of description. He's able to set the scene in such a seamless and economical way that I became annoyingly jealous on several occasions.
As I said, the story surprised me in many ways and every one of them was good. I will definitely be reading the rest of the series! You should too.
This book is a coming-of-age tale of Merion Hark, a 13 year old boy who is forced to move to America during its famous era of cowboys, scalping native americans, railroads and saloons. Add to that supernatural elements, like faeries, blood-drinking people, shamans with real magic and guns and you have a very different mixture.
The prose is very well-written. The editing and proofreading were also great. The supernatural part adds a sense of mystery to the story. The magic with guns part in Old West theme is intriguing.
However, the book takes a lot of time building up and to really start. You see the cover with the guy holding a rifle, thunder in the background, colors like explosion as well, the title "Bloodrush". You would expect a very fast action paced book, but it wasn't until 60% or 70% into the book that the first gunshot was fired (and not by any of the main characters) and the first saloon brawl happened. Also, Merion is not tall and adult like in the cover (especially being 13) and never uses a rifle or cowboy hat.
The power of blood rush takes pretty much the same amount of time until it's finally introduced. It's really curious what effects someone can gain. Electric eel, buffalo, etc. But when it's finally used in a battle (at around 90% in the book!) it felt clumsy and disappointing.
I was grateful Merion didn't suddenly become a badass magical shooter kicking everyone's ass as soon as he learned about his powers and got a gun. That is, until the very end,
The Shohari probably could have been explored more, they were really cool, specially the tree part. Speaking of the tree part, it was also strange to see people hiding stuff from Merion and then proceeding to reveal it later anyway, for very dubious reasons as well and you would think what they were thinking. For example:
That said, an inexperienced 13 year old boy in the world was well done. I liked how he was played by drinking over and over just to try to show he was an adult. And the obvious curiosity, breaking rules and not following advice, but he also felt too much of a spoiled brat that deserved a punch in the face sometimes. I guess that was the intention, but it seemed to contradict his education from his father, who supposedly raised him very harshly. One would think because Merion was always so terrified of him he would be more humble and introspective, but he acts like someone who always did whatever he wanted and was spoiled by his father. A good example would be the parts of the postal office. He simply acts and talks like he owns the place. Also strange he didn't learn how to shoot a gun from his father.
Rhin was my favorite character. He's the faerie companion of Merion. Also, he later robs a train carrying gold. How cool and creative is a faerie robbing a train in the Old West?
But speaking of Rhin, he showed the only problem in the prose. Nothing major (for me, at least) but other people may notice and not like it. Sometimes we are seeing everything from Merion's POV, then in the next paragraph it switches to what Rhin is thinking/feeling. This doesn't happen much, but it does happen without any kind of warning or break. Also, sometimes the narrator addresses directly the reader, as if the book was written in first person. Again, doesn't happen much, but it's noticeable and feels a bit strange.
I think the book could have started with Merion much older (18-20), with a reasonable control of his powers and gun abilities and already kicking ass for vengeance/rescue/whatever. We would be asking ourselves what he is doing and why, about his powers, sidekicks, etc. And then the initial 60% or so could have been used as flashback as how he was back then, and how he is now, and would be cut to like a few pages. To a more similar themed book, think Roland Deschain and the ka-tet from The Dark Tower.
Even if it takes a lot of time for the action, I didn't skimmed anything because the prose is very well-written, characters have distinct voices and rarely things are repeated. Also, the formatting was nicely done. I just expected action to happen a lot sooner.
No story spoilers beyond what's on the back cover:
I accepted a review copy of this book because I've long fantasized the idea of writing my own Western/Fantasy mash-up. This first novel of "The Scarlet Star" trilogy mostly succeeds at combining the two, but it favors the fantasy aspect more so than western.
When I think of a western I think of lone, quiet drifters and traversing wide majestic landscapes with the clash of nature and civilization. All these points are hit upon within the story, but sort of just felt like they were checking off boxes, and I would have liked to have seen a bit more emphasis on each. It also feels like there's a slight identity problem, where I couldn't really tell who the target audience was supposed to be. Some parts feel very Young Adult with the inclusion of fairy sidekicks and a 13 year old protagonist while other parts are full of blood, grit, and swearing. While there's nothing inherently wrong with this, it did feel a little jarring from time to time.
Hands down my favorite part about the whole book is the world that's been created. It's a sort of fantasized alternate history of the second half of the 19th century where people like Red King Lincoln exist and the continental railroad extends over the western lands of The New Kingdom to The Last Ocean. It's a world full of spirits, shamans and terrible monsters like the dreaded railwraiths which manifest themselves into great hulking bodies of splintered wood and iron.
Merion Hark, the main protagonist, was sort of a mixed bag for me. We join his story at a very dark time, right after the murder of his father and while that is a perfectly good reason for the kid to be rather sullen and whiny, it doesn't make me like him as a character. We don't ever see what he was like before this tragic period of his life, and so I never felt that bad for him. He's rude, entitled, and brash and the only things I really admired about him were his bravery and ambition. Character growth doesn't really come until the very, very end, and even then it felt like it happened just because it's expected, and not as a natural progression of his story.
There's a really great magic system called Bloodrushing, and along with the world it was my other favorite part. Basically it revolves around drinking the blood of different animals (mammals reptiles, fish, birds insects), both ordinary and mystical, to gain specific powers, traits and abilities from them. It reminded me a bit of Allomancy from Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn, in that the magic is limited to a particular substance that the characters have to ingest before they can use it. Most "rushers" can only stomach one kind of blood, while a select few known as "leeches" can stomach a whole range. It's a really cool and well crafted system that stays interesting because you get the sense that you'll never see it all. Each and every species is a new possibility.
Overall I enjoyed the book and am definitely interested to see where the story goes next. I'm just hoping that Merion becomes a bit more likable and that the western aspect, depending on future settings, has a bigger influence on the feel of the series.
My original introduction to Ben’s writing was via his debut Emaneska series. With Blood Rush though, Ben takes an entirely new approach and gives us an alternate historical book that also acts strongly as a western. The story focusses on Tonmerion Hark, a 13-year old who is (sort of) banished to a foreign frontier land called Wyoming. Wanting to return to his British homeland, Tonmerion will have to try to fit in with his extended family in Wyoming while also trying to figure out secrets about the land.
What I enjoyed about this book was that the author doesn’t quite dwell too much into the world setting and gives s a story that is entirely dependent on the characters present within. What I mean by that is that there are strong hints and secrets scattered throughout the story, however the readers will have to piece them together to figure it all out. Plus the book’s pace will keep the readers glued and the ending is one that will leave you waiting for the sequel instantaneously. Blood Rush gets 7.5/10 for its ingenious plot approach.
Bloodrush is a weird west fantasy is set in the frontier town of Fell Falls, America. It’s on the edges of a dusty, desolate desert. There are guns, wild locals, and monsters called railwraiths that eat up the railway workers attempting to lay tracks to expand the empire. There’s also blood magic and faeries. Yep, faeries!
The tale centres on Tonmerion Hark, a young teenager who is sent to live with his aunt when his VIP father, Lord Hark, also known as the Bulldog of London and the Prime Lord of the Empire of Britannia, is found murdered. Much to Merion’s annoyance, his aunt, Lilain, lives in the New Kingdom.
Off Merion trundles from his father’s ample estate on a boat across the sea and then by train to Fell Falls. Accompanied by his faerie best friend, Rhin, Merion is naturally very put out to find his aunt lives in a bit of a shack on the wrong side of town, and has a rather distasteful job as the town’s undertaker.
Determined to get back to London to find out who murdered his father and reclaim his substantial inheritance, Merion decides to work for his aunt to earn some cash for the train / boat fare. He also heads off on an enlightening (and hot) journey into the desert with his aunt’s friend, the strange prospector Lurker, and his magpie. When the wealthy Serped family, owners of the railroad company, come to town Merion spots his chance to gain support for his get-back-to-London cause. He also gets a tad distracted by Lord Serped’s daughter.
However, his aunt isn’t just an undertaker, the Serpeds aren’t what they seem, and Rhin has some dark secrets and vengeful enemies hot on his tail. Merion must also deal with the wild locals, the Shohari, raiding the town and a rather unpleasant post office master. He’s also coping with the revelation that there’s such a thing as blood magick. “Roots be damned!”
This was a really enjoyable read. I enjoyed the mash up of western and fantasy, the whole other world of the faeries as well as the stiff upper lip Merion who must grow up and decide who’s worth fighting for and who isn’t. It is a coming-of-age tale that is packed with laugh-out-loud humour, some grand battles, and a cool magic system.
The ‘magick’ was entertaining to read about – the blood of different animals and creatures did different things when ingested and in combination those things could be epic, or cause terrible nosebleeds or similar ailments. I like that there’s a detailed section at the end of the book all about bloodrushing and the different ‘shades’ with the positive and negative effects of each.
I recommend this book for those who like reading unusual fantasy that breaks the mould. It’s a refreshing concept with quite different elements that come together and work well.
the whole idea of magick, bloodrushing, it perks me up. i love the idea and willing to understand it deeper. the author is kind enough to give the explanation of bloodrush in the last pages! and i even love world building which takes place in western period. good lord, i fall for Fell Falls even it is blasted hot, lol. for these, it is worth for me to read.
Merion, the main character, that i couldn't work with. he was a childish, foolish, obnoxious, and whiny 13 year old boy. heaven's mercy, i had tried my hardest to understand that he was still a boy, one with sorry situation, but further way, I stopped being patient. only in last chapters he seemed to gain his mind in the right tracks. i hope he grows up in the second book which i delay to read.
the plot is somewhat lack of excitement tho most of it are fine minus the Hark boy attitude. it does tell a story of Tonmerion Hark who comes to live with his aunt Lilain, an undertaker! (i kinda fond of her!) since she is the only living relative he has in Wyoming, Fell Falls. the time when Merion lives with his aunt is filled with planning of getting back to London to see justice for his murdered father, finding the truth beneath his family magick, learning the ability he inherited from his father, witnessing the Shohari vs Fell Falls wars, and finally practicing the bloodrushing to save his family live.
don't forget about the Faerie, Rhyn. he also has some problems to be taken care of which require half-hearted interest from me. i thought Merion and Rhyn would be the real main characters, alas, on my eyes, the runaway Fae didn't get much (exciting or notable) parts in the book. it was said that Rhyn regarded Merion as his friend, one he cherished, but the bond with these two is just not strong in my opinion even they had spent 3 years together before it came to this plot. Rhyn is hundred year olds Fae, and I don't see he tamper Merion to be a better person just like he stated.
everything then begins to be piled up on last pages. well, at least i got some real deals. ain't going along for having read 400 pages and comes to quagmire. i will be the one throwing tantrums of capslocks in here. and, hey, have you seen the cover? it is beautiful and majestic and elegant and promising! (at least, for me) i was hoping for more gun fires, real action of bloodrushing, even encounters with railwraiths. more alive! less annoying brat! but well, the world is not a wish-granting factory as i said earlier, at least i got some of them :")
if you happen to read this book, let me know, perhaps i can think it over from different point of views. if you happen try this book, also let me know, perhaps i can share the (pain) pointed excitements. hur hur hur ♥
Weird West is a Thing. Though possibly not my Thing. To my eye the West doesn't get much more weird than Sergio Leone, and most westerns are jousts and mythic adventures dressed up in plaid shirts and buckskins, knights riding to save a damsel in distress from a fate worse than refried beans and a spitoon.
Or so the story goes. Which means that Ben Galley's mash-up of coming-of-age adventure, Brave New World voyages, and murderous goldhunting fairies in a vaguely parallel hybridised world where the guns are larger than life, ought to fit in nicely just over to the left of Deadwood. Unfortunately life is rarely that simple.
The protagonist Tonmerion Hark can't quite make up his mind whether he wants to be a YA hero or not. There's an awful lot of pouting and poor communication, even allowing for the fact that he's 13 years old, all done to advance the plot. His pocket companion (one of the aforementioned murderous fey, bound to him by an oath, is by far the more interesting of the two, with a real drive to keep clear of his kinsmen back in Blighty.
It gets a little more confused when Merion pitches up at his long-lost Aunt's house and discovers that she - and obviously himself too - can assume the powers and aspects of certain animals by drinking their blood. The slight steampunk aspects of the story fade back to nothing as Galley explores this magic system instead, topping it off with an antagonistic family of blood drinkers who - of course - don't just stop at animals...
There are some good visuals - the rail wraiths bending the tracks and derailing trains, the steamboat buring in the night and Galley writes the set pieces and denouement with real energy. But the pace gets dragged back by Merion's near-constant moodiness - he's not the most sympathetic protagonist, even in his mourning phases.
Perhaps there are too many ideas in the pot, but it's well worth reading through to the very end of the glossary where Galley has hidden a few laugh-inducing "blood" aspects.
DNF at 20%. It's not that the book is bad exactly, it's that there were too many little things that hit the bother button for me, and they just added up to the point where I didn't want to push through to finish.
To start with, the prose is so very, very purple. To the point where it's both overwrought and careless because in an effort to use the MOST words ever, Galley doesn't pay attention to what those words actually mean. At one point in the novel there are fingers tasting foggy air. Fingers do not taste; fingers feel, touch, are exposed to foggy air, they do not taste it. What's a shame, is that when Galley gets out of his own way and stops trying to torture the thesaurus he's pretty decent. He just needed someone to tell him when his metaphors are strained to the breaking point and that no human should ever have 'sapphire orbs'. Sapphire eyes if you really must, but what is wrong with blue eyes. Hell, throw in some descriptors and you've got cold blue eyes, deep blue eyes, stormy blue eyes, etc etc. All of which are more descriptive than 'sapphire orbs'.
Then I'm not sure Galley has ever been to Wyoming. When he describes the town of Fell Falls it would have been a good description of a desert southwest town. However, Wyoming, even eastern Wyoming, is not the desert Southwest, it's prairie or mountain west. Picky, I know. And honesty I could have just dealt with this, but like I said minor annoyances that added up.
Finally, I was bothered by the way Galley changed the dangers of the frontier from the Native American wars to monsters. To be fair, it doesn't appear as though he completely erased the Native tribes but he did make the man eating monsters the main focus of the dangers of the frontier. Not my favorite way of dealing with the problems of colonialism and Manifest Destiny. It is common in Weird West Novels though.
Anyway, I just reached a point where I didn't want to read anymore. Shame, I really do love Weird West novels and I was hoping this one would be enjoyable, but hey oh.
I have to start off by saying that Bloodrush has one of the most original storylines that I have ever read.
"Welcome to the wild west, he thought. Last stop before Hell."
The story follows thirteen year-old Tonmerion Hark, Merion for short. The story begins in London, where we learn Merion's father has been murdered and Merion's life is again turned upside down as he learns he's to be sent to America to live with his aunt until he's old enough to take over his father's estate. Tonmerion and his friend Rhin the faerie soon make their way across the Iron Ocean to Fell Falls, Wyoming. The frontier town is a drastic change to what Merion is used to and he isn't a bit happy to be there or with his Aunt Lilain, the local undertaker. We also meet Lurker the prospector and his magpie Jake.
I don't want to give the entire story away but I just have to mention the rushing. Merion learns he's a Bloodrusher as his father was which means he has the ability to drink blood from an animal or creature and take on some of the abilities from them. It was amazing how many kinds of shades there were to learn of and as I said I don't think I've ever heard of a story like that.
I also love that it has a western setting, I don't read westerns so this was a nice compromise. It's a great new setting for me and the railwraith creatures were scary fun and the Shohari were an interesting lot.
Overall, I loved everything about this book. Sometimes I wanted to thump Merion for the things he did but you can't help but love him and I really want to see Lurker and Lilain get together! I would recommend Bloodrush to anyone who loves amazing characters (Lurker was my favorite), magick, and some mystery thrown in.
I few weeks ago I was looking at new books to read and just went browsing on the internet and stumbled upon the excerpt of Bloodrush the latest book of self published author Ben Galley. After finishing it, I readily new that this is one of those books that lives up to my "reading motto" of that I like to read books where author don't go the distance but go the extra distance to produce something exciting, and this is precisely what Ben Galley does, he goes the extra distance. Ben Galley is best known for his Emaneska series (a quartet featuring the books The Written, Pale King and Dead Stars parts 1 and 2. Next to being a writer, Ben Galley also offers self publishing help. Now onto the story.
One thing that directly set the setting straight for Bloodrush is the introduction. Here in you read that werewolves and other supernatural creatures aren't weird. When a person goes missing or something odd happens this will be the most likely explanation. When I read this I was excited for the remainder of the story. You have either of two sort of story, supernatural inspired where it is either the focus of the story or where it is put in the background creating an alluring sense. And now come to think of it, Bloodrush is both of these cases. As after this introduction the story starts to focus on young Lord Tonmerion Hark. Instead of any threat, but you as a reader know darn well what is on the background and later after passing 25% of the story Ben Galley delves fully into the supernatural aspect of this story.
The story of Bloodrush focuses on the young Lord Tonmerion. In the beginning of the book his father is murdered, Tonmerion's father held an important role for the Empire of Britannia, he was the Prime Lord, right hand to the Queen. With loosing his father Tonmerion is on his own and since Tonmerion is a minor, he is send to his only living relative in America, his aunt Lilain to live and grow up until he is old enough to take over the estates of his father. And thus Tonmerion ends up in the desert town of Fell Falls in Wyoming. On his journey to Fell Falls Tonmerion starts to see the possible hardships and mainly the discomfort he will be facing. And when he finally reaches his aunts place it all becomes reality, the level of comfort is far from what he is used to from his time in London. His first reaction is to get out of Wyoming as soon as possible and return to London once again but with a steep price for the tickets and no money available he has to accept that he will be having a rough time. Luckily Tonmerion has a friend with him and not just a friend. A Fae. Rhin. Tonmerion met Rhin when he was young and they have been inseparable even since. Just shortly after his arrival Tonmerion starts to uncover some dark secrets of this town throwing his life quite around to say the least. His aunt Lilain is the town undertaker, by her job you learn that wraiths walk in the desert and not wraiths-wraiths but railwraiths they are made up of railroad pieces and are terrifying and dangerous. A real eyeopener is shown when Tonmerion ventures with Lurker (a friend of Lilain) out of town. When Tonmerion returns he is far from the same boy who left. Tonmerion learned about Bloodrushing and this is pretty awesome but I will get to that. Now that Tonmerions presence is known in Fell Falls he gets more acquianted to the higher caste of people there. Lord Serped and his family. Even with Tonmerion's newly gained ability he is treading in dangerous waters. The question that remains to be answered is will Tonmerion be able to keep his head above it all?
As I already mentioned the focus in Bloodrush is on Tonmerion. From the beginning I liked his character, though with something of a reluctance of sorts. When you see Tonmerion in London he is a spoiled brat which becomes fully noticeable when he makes he journey towards Fell Falls. The discomfort in his rides and his place of eventual stay. He does everything to try to find away back to London. Here also lies a strong character trait of Tonmerion he is driven. After finding himself "born" a new, he accepts his faith in Fell Falls and this is an important point for character as he goes from brat to a more caring and virtuous person. Displaying traits of his father but in a much better way. Such transformation, or name it coming-of-age really helped to fortify Tonmerion's character in the story. Added to this comes the really foolish way of how Tonmerion explores Bloodrushing of his own, quite funny and again a learning point in his young life. Next to Tonmerion there are quite a few secondary characters that you meet. The Fae Rhin, the aunt of Tonmerion, Lilain and a close friend of Lilain, Lurker. Lets start of with Rhin, dont let his size fool you. Rhin is devious and knows his way around humans. With the introduction that Ben Galley gave into his world in the front of the book it was nice to have it seen followed up with a Fae creature. Rhin was and still is Tonmerion's tutor and guardian. With Rhin's character Ben Galley introduces a fun and witty character to balance some of the grim situations out. Lilain, Tonmerion's aunt, is the undertaker of Fell Falls, she doesn't only handle human bodies but also creatures both natural and supernatural. Lilain has a much darkerside to her job as an undertaker, she also deals in blood for Bloodrushers... Last and definitely not least is Lurker. A friend of Lilain. He acts as a catalyst to Tonmerion, convincing the young boy to experiment with his gift. Overal Lurker just as with Rhin adds something healty to the serious tones of other characters. Lurker might seem like an guy who does what he wants only in his own benefit but when push comes to shove he is there for you. I would want him guarding my back.
Now as promised Bloodrushing! I tweeted about it that is was just plain cool and it is. Ben Galley advertises magick (yes it is written with a k) as a bloody and dirty business far from roses and sunshine. And it is literally a blood(y) business. Ben Galley's take on magic is directly in what I like to read, I am a sucker for cool magick and Bloodrushing meets all the requirements, it is something comparable to what Brandon Sanderson uses in Mistborn. By ingesting blood a bloodrusher is able to gain powers. The type of powers gained is dependent on the blood sample. If you ingest a squirrels blood you gain better reflexes, if you ingest that of an electric eels you can shoot lightning and from an ox you become strong with a high endurance. These are just three example of a lot more, there is a nice glossary in the end of the book that explores much more blood samples. But this is far from all, most of the people able to bloodrush can only use one animal like a magpie in Lurker's case, there are also people able to use much more animal, these are called leeches and are most dangerous of all. But wait there is more. It is also possible to blend with blood i.e. mixing two animal to gain two powers at once. So can you now understand why this is so awesome?
With Bloodrush Ben Galley has written a very strong first story in what will surely be an action packed series. I was taken from the beginning of his book right until the end, there was never a dull moment in the story. I do have to be honest that I missed a strong plot in the beginning of the book, I couldn't see the direction, but once over the half mark of the book things started to become clear and most interesting and made up for the earlier part more than enough. I haven't read Ben Galley's Emaneska series so I can't compare that with Bloodrush, but Bloodrush has all the right elements working in it's favor, solid writing and character building all along the book, an interesting world ( think crossover western/urban fantasy and supernatural) and lets not forget it has Bloodrushin which is just plain awesome. Somewhere in the book you introduced to a character and a specific trait of his, in the last paragraph of the book, Ben Galley reveals the possible continuation of the series and mentions something similar. Honestly I was saying to myself "No way, that is not possible", I need the sequel right about now! Add this book to your to read list!
“What do you think of when we talk of magic?" Merion scratched his head. "Rabbits in hats. Doves. Cards," he said. "Now, that's magic. What about magick, with a k?" "I would say you have atrocious spelling.”
I wouldn't have picked up this western fantasy if it weren't for the wonderful The Write Reads, so thank you so much for making me a part of this ultimate Blog Tour and for this Review copy!
So, did I like the book? Well, yes, for the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed Bloodrush. There were a few things which, bothered me but I'll write about it in a bit.Bloodrush follows the story of Tonmerion or Merion, who is sent away across the iron ocean to a place called Fell Falls, Wyoming after his father, The Prime Lord's murder. According to Merion's father's will, he is to stay with his aunt in this strange land until he comes off age and the news obviously, doesn't sit well with Merion. However, he doesn't really have a choice in the matter so Merion along with his companion Rhin, a twelve-inch fae warrior, reluctantly set sail to the kingdom of America. The story moves forward from there on as Merion arrives at the last frontier and gets to learn a lot about himself as well as the weird magikal world around him.
This book has such an interesting and compelling premise, I have read books set on the eastern frontier but never on a western one, so that was definitely something new for me. In fact, this book presents an alternate version of history which was so intriguing and fascinating. There are so many supernatural beings lurking throughout the story and I found the history, the lore, the mystery and the magik system extremely vivid and riveting. I was engrossed by the Author's description whether it was of the cold, grey 19th century London or that of the sunny and hot Fell Falls. However, The Bloodrushing powers and how it manifests was hand downs my favorite part of the book.
Like I said earlier, although, I enjoyed reading this book, there were a few things which, bothered me. Firstly, I kept forgetting that Merion was supposed to be thirteen, this can be considered just my problem but I couldn't wrap my head around he being thirteen and going through all the stuff that happened in the book. Mind you, it gets quite gory and bloody. Which also, resulted in me taking a very long while before I can warm up to his character. Secondly, I found a few inconsistencies when it came to POV switch, Most chapters would start with Merion as the narrator and then all of a sudden switch to Rhin, it felt a little jarring for me. Thirdly, I felt the beginning of the book slow, the book opens with a murder scene and a big promise but it takes a long time before any real action starts.
That said, I still think that the Author did a brilliant job in setting up the atmosphere of the story in this first book and I am hopeful that the books following Bloodrush will be extremely fun to read . Now, common, shamans, blood magic and wraiths, that's everything I love in fantasy.
It is hard to describe this book purely because it appears to try to do too much.
It is set in an alternate universe where much is familiar but some things are very different. It is a western, mostly set in an frontier town in Wyoming with the usual cast of restless townspeople, lone prospectors and ruthless land owners. It is a fantasy involving faeries and magick
Yet in Galley's capable hands these elements are moulded into a seamless and thrilling story. All the different aspects fit together neatly and consistently producing a terrific platform for the characters and plot.
The main character is 13 year old Tonmerion Hark (known as Merion), son of the Prime Lord (think Prime Minister) of an alternate version of Victorian Britain. When his father is murdered by assailants unknown he is sent to his last remaining relative - an aunt living in Wyoming. Travelling with him is is best friend, a faerie called Rhin who is a fugitive from the rest of the Fae. Desperate to get back to London to find his father's killer and rescue his inheritance, Merion is instead drawn into conflict and underhand dealings in the small town of Fell Falls where is aunt is the undertaker.
The alternate universe is particularly striking. Very nearly everything is familiar but with important differences. The biggest of these is clearly that creatures such as the Fae exist (even if few people have ever seen one) but other changes include the natives of America, the Shohari, not being quite human and a lot of clever differences in London that really make it clear what kind of world Merion inhabits. The magick is also well thought out with a lot of thought and imagination given to its mechanics and its implications.
Galley's writing is a joy. It is clear and concise yet conveys the scene to the reader with impressive ease. The hot sun and gritty sand of the desert feel very real indeed. The characters are very well described and a great deal of care has been taken to express them. These are not cardboard cliches, which would have been easy. Merion is the hero but at heart is still a 13 year old boy, a boy who is impetuous and complains how life is unfair. All through the book there is a subtle undercurrent of wry humour.
What this whole book reminded me of - both in the writing and in the almost but not quite like our world setting - was a slightly darker Terry Pratchett. That is not an exaggeration, This book really is up there with the very best Discworld books in terms of story and inventiveness. It is darker in tone than anything Pratchett would write and not quite as laugh out loud funny in places but it is damn close.
The story itself unfolds at a fast pace - which is good because there is a lot to get through with several plots running intertwined through the narrative and sparking off each other as they twist and turn through every reveal. The final showdown is suitably climactic and the prose as well as the magick crackles off the page in a breathless rush towards the final chapter.
I do like to balance my reviews with maybe some small point that counts against the book but I really can't think of one for Bloodrush. It simply is a magnificent piece of work. You may not have known you wanted a alternate reality fantasy western but once you have read this you will wonder where the next one is coming from.
Very very highly recommended and the 5 star rating was easy to give.
Rated: Strong language so not for the youngest of young adults
This is a great blend of two genres, with the tension and struggles of a Western, and all the creative goodness of Fantasy. I loved the world that Galley has created. It's an alternative history, set in the 1860's, with well thought-out twists on names and histories that make it entirely its own. It all meshes together really well to give a strong background. Yes, the story may be about a teenage boy and a faerie, going to stay with Merion's aunt in America; but everything has bite (literally, in some cases). The faeries are an ancient race, with a tendency for violence and foul language. They are as likely to stab you as anything else. And Merion's Aunt Lilain has abandoned her upper-class upbringing to work with dead bodies on the edge of human society. It's not fluffy, and there's the inevitable blood and gore that comes with Lilain's profession.
When Merion discovers the different types of magic, with the Shohari, and the Rushers, it feels real. There are rules, limitations and sometimes a price to pay.
Listing all the above, this is the sort of book that I normally love and blast through in a couple days (regardless of length); but on this occasion it's just not for me.
There are two main reasons for this: I did not like Merion. He is a spoiled, egotistical little lordling who spends most of his time moaning about his situation and doesn't show the slightest concern for those who are trying to help him (i.e. he's a dick to his Aunt Lilain). I mean, I understand this, and expect it because he is the son of the Empire's Prime Lord. He has been raised as the only son of the most powerful man in Britain - that's got to come with a bit of an attitude. Of course he's ignorant to the plight and feelings of others, he is a thirteen year old who thinks he is the man. The problem is that he is our main narrator, we cannot escape his voice. And most of the time he is either alone or with Rhin the faerie, not doing anything in particular; which means there are no other characters breaking up the monotonous cycle of Merion's selfish thoughts.
The second reason was that it just dragged out too long. It started promisingly enough, they there were hundreds of pages of keeping secrets from Merion; training Merion; keeping Merion in check. As mentioned before, I don't like our main character. So inevitably, I was a little less interested in the stream of ungracious musings and... ugh, I just got irritated with the sections where nothing was happening and we have Merion-filler.
So overall, I would recommend grabbing a free copy and checking it out for yourself. I'm not in a rush to read the rest of Merion's trilogy, but I wouldn't mind other stories from this world.
Book source ~ Tour. My review is voluntary and honest.
When 13-year-old Tonmerion Hark’s father, Prime Lord Hark, is murdered on their front steps Merion is sent to live with his last living relative, his aunt Lilain. The problem for Merion is that she doesn’t live in London. Or even in the Empire of Britannia. She lives across the Iron Ocean in the wilds of America, the New Kingdom. But not in one of the bustling cities. Oh, no. Poor privileged Merion has to trek all the way out to Wyoming and live in Fell Falls, the latest settlement at the current end of the Serped Railroad Company’s railroad line. But at least he wouldn’t be going alone. Traveling with him is his best friend, Rhin. Except no one knows about Rhin, being that he’s a faerie and all. Let the adventure begin!
Ben Galley has created one hell of a world in Bloodrush! This is fantasy at its finest. The writing flows so easily and the world is so creative! I mean, who would think that Wild West meets Fantasy would be such an interesting combination? I love everything about this tale. Except Merion. Okay, okay, I know he’s a 13-yr-old boy who is used to a life of privilege, but the way he reacts to everything and his attitude in general still gets on my last nerve quite a lot. But really, that’s just me. I can step back and tell you that he acts just right for his setting. But he still pisses me off and I can’t help it. To make any book a delicious meal for this reader, I need to at least like a main character (more than I do Merion - way more). But this is told from several POVs so it’s not like I’m stuck in Merion’s head all the time. There are other great characters to hop around in. And there’s the mystery of Prime Lord Hark’s murder. Not to mention the dangers way out there in Wyoming. And don’t get me started on the Hark family secret. Oh, boy! It’s a damn good one and nothing I’ve read about in any book, which is saying something. There is one hell of a good story here, make no mistake. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good yarn.
Bloodrush has an interesting concept, combining fantasy with the western genre (although the latter comes out mostly in the setting; the feel of it is fantasy). I think this book definitely shows promise, but I'm not entirely happy with the execution. It feels unfocused, untidy. Somehow it was just too much of a jumble for me. I had the feeling that it would have been better if it would have been compressed a bit. There were bits that really pulled me in, but there were also transitions that pulled me out again, and this made for messy reading. In the beginning I was willing to overlook it, since it usually takes some time before you really get into a book. After a while it became jarring though, and I considered to stop reading several times between pages 300 and the end (~500). Not a good sign after having made the commitment of reading 300 pages... Part of what was bothering me was the character of Merion, the protagonist. Perhaps I shouldn't have expected so much of a 13-year-old boy, but on the other hand, this is a western, at least in part, and I had hoped for a bit less whining and stupidity, and a bit more growing up. Again, I was fine with it in the beginning, hoping for improvement later on, but that improvement only came all the way at the end.
Overall, I would give this 2.5 stars, but of course, GR doesn't do half stars...
From the start of the book it is clear the Tonmerion has a lot of mystery surrounding his life and especially with the events that lead him to having to travel to Fell Falls and it is intriguing how all the elements of the different characters in the book all flow back to his life directly through the friendships he has made. It will definitely be interesting to see the direction that this will take over the trilogy. The mixture of 19th century America and the fantasy elements is so fluid and just fits the tone of the story perfectly you would almost think that it is written as a history book in places as you are not able to see the divide. This idea has definitely worked as an advantage as it has shown a clear divide in the writing styles from the Emaneska trilogy. It will be very interesting as to how the western elements of the trilogy develop as the series progresses and as to how it will have Merion in his development as a character. Overall it is a very intriguing and attention grabbing book that when started it will be hard to stop as each page brings a new mystery to the forefront.
During the middle of the book I planned on giving it only two stars, but by the end it was markedly better.
What I liked about the book: This book mixes two genres that I like quite a lot - fantasy and western. It reads quite easily. There are some nice, well thought put characters characters. And I did enjoy the time it was set in. By the end of the book I felt like I wanted to read the second book in the series. The fae element in the story. The shohari are quite interesting.
What I did not like about the book: The main character was too young for the way he acted. If he was 15 it would have been believable, but 13 is just too young. The middle was way too slow. The plot is mot clear in the beginning, or let me rather say that the main character does not drive the plot forward. I noticed the lack of good editing that sometimes comes with self published works. No spelling mistakes, but quite a few grammar mistakes.
Made it to 50%. I've seen good reviews of this book and a "western fantasy" sounds cool to me. However, this felt like a young adult book that was hastily made into an adult book by throwing in a few F bombs here and there, and it just feels "Harry Potterish". Could use better editing, too - port is the left side of a ship, starboard the right. I thought it was funny that the book makes it a point to say the opposite. Also in one scene Lurker has a cigarette in his mouth and a couple sentences later, it's a pipe. I was never drawn into the story, and I gave it a fair shake. I should have passed it up when I saw a review mention faeries. I'm not good at reviews or at conveying my feelings and thoughts about a book, but this one just constantly frustrated me with a feeling that is "childish".
I got a digital ARC from the author and am currently 80% through the book, but I wanted to leave a review right away. Seriously, it's amazing. I must say I was surprised at the "western fantasy" mix when I first discovered the project on Pubslush (who wouldn't?). But that's exactly what makes books from indie authors so cool: they get to experiment, follow their guts, and create amazing stuff that you just wouldn't read elsewhere. The characters are perfect. I mean, the boy is 13 and I'm still totally able to walk in his shoes and get in the action and the plot through him. I'm an avid fantasy reader and I've read a lot of the traditional stuff. This one has absolutely nothing to envy, it might even be better.
Ben Galley sent me a copy of his ebook in exchange for an honest review.
This is a YA, historical (American Western?), and fantasy book with a touch of mystery. The protagonist's father is murdered and the protagonist is shipped off to America. The protagonist brings his fae friend with him, who has some political issues in the fae world. There's a lot going on, but it fits together well. In my opinion, the best part of this book is the world-building. It's skillful and interesting.
However, interesting genres and world aside, I found it difficult to stay engaged in the story. It wasn't the type of book for the kind of reader that I am, but I think that readers who are well-versed in historical fantasy settings would enjoy this, especially those who like well-crafted worlds.
I am huge fan of Ben Galley and truly enjoy his creative magic systems. In the Written books his mages had their magic tattooed on their bodies and in Bloodrush they drink blood. Great first book in a new series. I loved the interesting mix of western mixed with fantasy. In Mr. Galley's hands it work so well.