Nineteen-year-old Torien Risto has seen dissidents dealt with before. He knows the young local girl who just knifed him will hang for assaulting an Imperial officer, unless he can stop it.
Someone inside the provincial government is kidnapping Imperial citizens and selling them across the desert to the salt mines, silencing anyone who tries to intervene. The girl’s brother is one of those who has been taken. Rejected by the corrupt courts, she’s waging a personal war against the Empire.
Determined to save her life, Torien sets out in search of answers on the Salt Road, the ancient trade route running deep into the heart of a desert—territory claimed by the hostile Mayaso tribe.
Now, Torien is no longer sure where his own loyalty lies, or how far he will go to break the cycle of tyranny, political bullying, and social injustice in an empire that seals its borders in blood.
This was a meh read, but not that much of an awful meh after all. I liked the premise and the story itself, the writing a little less. Too pompous and, at times, really too rushed for my likings. But still, it entertained me well enough and it definitely deserves 3 full stars (I'd give it even four if I'll ever get my hands on the phone number of the sweet baby jesus how is he even that hot guy on the cover)!
Disclaimer: I was given this book for free as part of the Library Thing Early Reviewer (LTER) program for an honest review.
This is a great story. The development of the characters and the storyline kept me intrigued right from the beginning. I originally thought the story got off to a slow start, but by the time I finished chapter 1, I didn't want to put the book down and had a few reading sessions where I said to myself "just one more chapter". The main character, Torien, is very likeable and empathises with many people who cross his path. There were other characters, though smaller parts, such as Alliun, Nico Briule, Valle, Ædyn, Jovan, Chareste and the signo who helped make the story interesting and the role they played in Torien's journey. There are elements in the story where things don't go so well for a number of the characters and I found myself holding my breath waiting to see what happens and hoping that all will be well. Separately, but equally as entertaining was the description of the food. There were several moments when my mouth was watering.
Overall I found the storyline interesting and kept my attention the whole time. I liked seeing where the characters and the journey took them and often when I thought things were smooth sailing, a twist would occur leaving me wondering what's going to happen next and how will they manage this situation. I also enjoyed how the story has ended, but it certainly lends itself to a continuation. I want to know what will happened next in the journey and where that journey will take the characters and what actions they will do.
I was anticipating this novel to be action packed. After all, the synopsis reminded me of ‘An Ember in the Ashes’ by Sabaa Tahir. I absolutely love that novel by Sabaa. So, I went into this novel hoping the plot might blow me away as much as An Ember in the Ashes did.
However, after 100 pages in, I was still really confused relating the characters to their respective roles in the novel, other than the two characters mentioned in the synopsis. Just when I thought I got the hang of telling the supporting characters apart, new characters will show up, and I got all confused again. As such, I placed the book down after feeling that I wasn’t making any progress with it, after 100 pages. However, I decided to give this novel a second chance and picked it up again, only to be met with the same issue. With that, I decided to DNF the novel. With that in mind, I wouldn’t be giving this novel a rating.
I wouldn’t say that the novel is bad as the world building is really good. In addition, this novel talks about social injustice and corruption within the ruling party. Civilians were kidnapped and sold as slaves into the mining industries and the government kept the public in the dark.
On the whole, I guess this novel isn’t really for me. I would still encourage those who have yet to read this novel to give it a chance as I have a feeling that you will enjoy this novel much more than I did.
Finally, I would like to give a huge thank you to LibraryThings and Month9Books for providing me an arc of Blood Road in return for an honest review.
A debut rich in world building, and full of danger, BLOOD ROAD is a book that brings to life an early empire full of deadly secrets, deception, murder, and greed. At it's heart is a Commander who will risk his life to keep his blood oath he made, and avenge those who have suffered at the hands of his very people. Not knowing just how dangerous this is, and what it will cost him, Torien Risto is a man of his word, and a man on a mission to stop a very corrupt government.
Blood Oath is a historical fantasy set in a grim world with many similarities to ancient Rome. It is not a genre I normally read, but then I happened upon this quote: “I could kill you and make it look like the cat did it.” I just had to read the book. After a few pages, I knew I would not regret it. The main character, 19-year-old Imperial Officer Torien Risto, has a strong sense of justice. When he discovers someone is kidnapping Imperial citizens and selling them off as slaves to the salt mines deep in the desert, he takes it upon himself to try to stop it, no matter how high up in government the corruption goes. His self-imposed mission takes him on a journey through a vast Empire inhabited by different tribes where no one really knows who can be trusted. The story is filled with twists and turns, and when you think you know what comes next, something else happens. Together with his brother-in-arms, Lt. Alluin Senna, Torien Risto is a bright light in a very dark world. The book is filled with battle scenes and also includes a few torture scenes, which I found difficult to read. However, the love between the main characters, their loyalty to each other, and their belief that good can prevail in such a gruesome world, makes up for the violence. The other characters in the book, both the “good” and the “bad”, are well fleshed out, and you usually get where they are coming from. The writing is excellent, the world building great. As I read, I felt I was there, on the rough sea or in the sandblown desert. At no point did I want to put the book down. When I got to the end, I wanted to start on the next book right away.
Blood Road tells the story of 19-year-old Torien Risto, a young officer of the Vareni Empire. As the book begins, Torien is about to assume his role in the fort of Tasso, in the desert outside the city of Modigne. A child in Modigne knifes him in the back.
It’s at this point that I began to fall in love with Torien. You might expect that a young officer would instantly kill an attacker from a subject people. Torien doesn’t. He, himself, is descended from the Cesino people, conquered just a couple of generations before and still restive. He wants to know why the young girl—who might already be fifteen, old enough to hang for the assault—tried to kill him. Torien has a dogged sense of justice and a strong impulse to protect those who are weaker or more vulnerable than he is. When he finds out that the girl’s brother was sold as a slave to the salt mines, he swears that he will find out what happened to him. What seems a simple quest to rescue a boy and stop the enslavement of citizens becomes a journey into corruption and darkness that may end up costing Torien and his good friend Alluin their lives.
Amanda McCrina has a real gift for writing complex characters. As I said, I quickly came to love Torien, even though some of his decisions are disastrous—and not just for him alone. His friend, Alluin, is also a thoroughly decent young man, and I loved the way he sniped at Torien and tried to get him to think things through. McCrina’s settings also shine; you can almost taste the dust of the desert and see the sunlight on the walls.
Dealing as it does with conquest, rebellion, and corruption, Blood Road is often a violent story, sometimes horrifically so. There are scenes of torture. One involves a child, a little slave boy called Aedyn whom Torien tries to rescue. Aedyn simply broke my heart. The violence is never gratuitous, but I found it very hard to take at times. This is why I could not give the book five stars.
However, I also found this book hard to put down. It’s very well researched and well plotted, with characters readers can admire in spite of their flaws. Fans of Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series should love it. Because of the setting, so clearly based on ancient Rome, it should also appeal to fans of Rosemary Sutcliff, Ruth Downie, and Lindsay Davis. Recommended.
This is the story of Commander Torien Berio Risto. The second son of Lord Risto of Cesin. An unfortunate event led him to make a blood oath to a girl named Lida. In order to perform his promise, his journey brought him to the Salt Road or more popularly known as the Blood Road. Named so because of the rampant killings and blood shed on this road. Torien Risto wants to get to the bottom of the corruption in the government involving kidnapping of Imperial citizens. His search will lead him to a very deep hole with very influential and filthy rich individuals involved.
Wow! This is like one man versus a world of corrupt government officials. Torien's oath opened up a canned of worms with people bent on killing anyone who will expose their dirty deeds. The rich and the government holds all the power. The high and mighty. While the ordinary citizens are eating scraps. Not exactly far from the real world--might be the same scenario in any third world country. Torien's crusade brought on by an oath to a poor girl lead him to deadly situations and ambush. Along the way, he finds good souls who share the same aspiration as his and they try to topple the vicious and corrupt system. In the end of this story, their efforts seem to have paid off but they are not sure if the problem has really ended. It's obvious that new adventures and deadly situations are going to be waiting for Torien.
One of the most memorable characters in this story is Torien's adjutant--Lt. Senna. He is also from a rich family but was disowned by his father. I like his and Torien's relationship. Honest and loyal. Lt. Senna can be blunt with Torien about anything. He can speak his mind and truth without fear. These two have each other's back and would lay down each other's life for one another. I just hope that the author will not kill Senna's character in the next stories.
I have observed that throughout the story, Torien kept passing out. He lost consciousness a lot of times. More than I could count. Maybe it's due to the fact that Torien has it in his personality to try to take on the world alone. He is often blind-sided though he also often escapes those very tight situations with help from unlikely and unexpected sources. The propensity for him, more often than not, ending up unconscious bothered me. It seems like a flaw to his very admirable and strong character. I am not sure if this flaw will eventually lead him to his end or will continue to save his butt. I am dying to know if this will continue to be Torien's trademark in the next books. I am not sure if the author is even aware of this. I hope she is.
All in all, this is a very inspiring story. I can't help but be moved by Torien's strength of character and convictions. He is a new hero to watch out for. A new champion! He has a heart for the oppressed and the forgotten. He is bound to breach every wall that stands in his way against his fight with corruption. Though stubborn, he doesn't just go to any battle unprepared. He tries to weigh some facts and information at hand. I think his success is due to using his brains and not pure brawn. And yes, fainting. I wish there's someone like him in real life. One who would stand bravely and stubbornly, against all odds, to remove all the corrupt government officials and individuals and end their hemorrhaging of the nations coffers.
I give this book 4/5 open palms. I am open to read the next books in this series. I want to continue Torien's fight for a slave-free empire.
Prudence is groveling. Wisdom is holding your tongue until this passes over and we can all of us act on reason, not impulse. - Amanda McCrina, Blood Road -
“I know the way you think--because if you didn't outright assume she was telling the truth, at least you're going to make sure she gets to prove she was lying.”
~Alluin, BLOOD ROAD
Torien has never questioned his role as an Imperial Officer. He believes strongly in justice and doing what is right. When he is knifed by a girl, he swiftly begins to carry out justice, only to realize that there is more going on than meets the eye. As he unravels corruption beyond his wildest dreams that goes all the way to the highest of offices, he begins a long, dangerous journey that can fundamentally change society...but can also get him killed.
When I first heard about BLOOD ROAD I'll be honest: I thought it was going to be in the vein of AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir. The summaries for both books talk about martial law, and imperial officers with all the power. They both mention girls standing up for their beliefs, adamant about saving their families. They both feature officers/soldiers who, thanks to them, turn the world upside down in order to do what's right. I was immediately intrigued by the fact that both books had similar parallels and instantly TBRed it. I was surprised when I began reading and found out that the two books have very little in common, that the girl talked about so much in the summary plays a very minor part in the novel. So just be forewarned going in if you had the same expectation I did: Definitely read BLOOD ROAD as its own entity!
It was refreshing to have a YA "historical fantasy" (I don't really like to call these "historical novels" when they're not based on specific events, and I don't really like to call them "fantasy" when no magic is involved...we need something better, lol!) from a male POV. Don't get me wrong, I love fierce girl heroines as much as the next person. But there are so few male heroes in YA fantasy, and guys want to see themselves in fiction just as much as the gals do. Torien is a complex hero, too, one who has a strong sense of justice. He cares for everyone, even slaves, and hates seeing people mistreated. He sees the good in everyone. When he uncovers an underground slave ring, he decides he's going to set things right, but he has no clue that he's about to be knee-high in trouble. He could have gone on with his life, ignored what he saw, and been a good soldier. He didn't. He puts his life on the line. He doesn't cower before his superiors and accept that their hands may or may not be tied.
Torien meets a lot of different people along his journey, and each one changes him and helps determine what he will do going forward. He cares deeply for the people in his life, even ones he's barely encountered, and by the book's end, his path is completely different from where it was when readers first met him. BLOOD ROAD is the first book in the Blood Oath series, but ends cleanly enough that readers won't have to fret about the ever-worrisome evil cliffhanger!