Joshua Palmatier's Reviews > Bloodstone

Bloodstone by Barbara   Campbell
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it was amazing

I hear alot of fantasy readers complain about the fact that there aren't any "different" fantasies out there. Where are the fantasies set in other places that AREN'T medieval in nature? What about all of the other cultures that are rife for fantasy settings?

Well, here you have one such book, and I find it extremely disappointing that Barbara Campbell's books didn't find a much larger audience. Her setting is essentially the end of the Bronze Age, so her culture is based on tribes, but at a point where the tribes have begun to settle down into one location, rather than roaming for food. As such, they believe in gods and their interactions with the surrounding world. The first book in the series, Heartwood, dealt with a Midwinter ritual gone horribly wrong, essentially putting the world into a neverending winter. The main characters attempt to end the ceaseless winter, and along the way get caught up in a powerplay between gods and mortals alike. That gives you a taste of the world in which Bloodstone is written.

Bloodstone is the second novel in the Trickster's Game trilogy, with the third Foxfire being released by DAW on February 3, 2009. That said, you can absolutely pick up the second book and read it without having read the first novel at all. Bloodstone is set 15 years after the end of Heartwood, and the main character is the son of the main characters from that first book. This jump in time and shift in focus makes Bloodstone its own novel. However, while there's no reason you have to read the first book, I'd recommend you go check it out anyway simply because it's also an excellent book.

And when I say this book was excellent, I mean it. When I started reading this book, I got caught up in it immediately, and that hasn't happened to me with a fantasy novel for quite a while. I was instantly engaged with Keirith and his plight. He's a young man, just coming into his powers to commune with the spirits of the creatures and the humans around him. However the culture he lives in condemns those in the tribe with his powers to death because of the threat his powers create: the temptation to use the powers to subjugate or destroy the spirits they commune with is too great, the consequences of such actions horrifying. Even if the person who wields such power is essentially good. Keirith fears that his powers will be discovered and he'll be killed. He inadvertantly reveals his powers to his father, who (for his own personal reasons) reacts with the horror Keirith dreads. But before they can react, their tribal village is attacked by an outside source and Keirith is kidnapped (along with other members of the tribe).

What he finds is that the brutal culture he's dragged into actually reveres the powers that his tribal culture abhors. And . . . well, if I say anything more I'll end up spoiling the entire story. But you can see the dilemma. His tribal culture is essentially peaceful and what we'd all consider "good", but if we stays there he'll likely be killed for these powers that he didn't ask for. But the new culture, which reveres such powers, is brutal and warlike, attacking the surrounding lands to gain resources for their own culture, stealing members of the tribes for use as slaves or to be sacrificed to their own gods. Neither choice is good . . . and a good portion of the book deals with Keirith's struggle with this very dichotomy.

Also of interest throughout the book is the relationship between Keirith and his father. Keirith believes that he can never live up to his father's image, since his father is the one who helped resolve the neverending winter from Heartwood. He's a hero in the eyes of the people of the tribes, and Keirith is constantly in his shadow. Keirith also believes that his father hates him, simply because of the power he has. There is an intensely personal story between these two characters that's threaded through the novel, and that's one reason, among many, that I was so riveted.

So, to summarize, Bloodstone is an excellent novel, one that I highly recommend everyone find and read, especially if you're looking for something without the medieval setting. It's a spectacular fantasy, with characters that come alive, with problems that have no easy solution, even with magic at hand. I'm certainly looking forward to the third novel, Foxfire.

There might be a problem getting both Heartwood and Bloodstone. Most bookstores can't seem to order them in at this point (which is appalling). They are available on and the last time I checked. But don't let these difficulties deter you. Find these books. You won't regret it.

Also note that for some reason GoodReads has the second book under the title "Tricksters Game" when the actual title is Bloodstone. I don't really know why. But look for Bloodstone at the bookstores.
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Reading Progress

August 30, 2008 – Shelved
Started Reading
January 23, 2009 – Finished Reading

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message 1: by M— (new)

M— I fixed the Goodreads information to show this title as Bloodstone within the Trickster's Game trilogy instead of being titled just Tricksters Game.

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