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Review of The Blood Trials

Wow, what a story!  Terrible while at the same time, hopeful.  Ikenna Amari, the main character, is about to give up on her training when she learns that her hero grandfather was very likely murdered.  With renewed determination to bring down the killer, she pledges to the most elite branch of service, the Praetorian Guard. 

The training is horrendous.  The trainers are seasoned Praetorians following the long-established tradition of weeding out those they consider to be weak.  It is pretty much every person for themselves even when they are teamed up. 

Those that do not survive will end up dead. 

I can’t help thinking that this was a most despicable way to train loyal soldiers.  The trainers seem to have no regard for the lives of the trainees.  I was appalled at the first death (killing) and my disgust never really quieted.  Still, the book blurb warned me, sort of, so I kept reading.

Ikenna has the blood gift, a fact which must be kept from everyone or she risks everything.   This complicates her training, but while she and the pledges endure the training, the investigation into Verne Amaris’ death proceeds.  Added to the trials and the investigation is the blatant racism against Ikenna and her grandfather from the large majority of the Praetorians, the government and even her fellow trainees. 

With each bit of evidence Ikenna uncovers, the plot widens.  The peace of Mareen and its allies is threatened and Ikenna have a pivotal role when the decision of war or peace, harmony or rebellion, is decided.

Blending science fiction and fantasy, this book is a bit difficult to categorize.  I feel that fantasy comes out on top, but the non-earth setting gives it a scifi feel.  Technology is not highly advanced and I found the lack of communication technology a major missing piece, though it made the trials even more dangerous.  Ikenna’s blood gift and the presence of other supernatural forces is what makes this a fantasy.  The characters are very young, so this book may appeal to young adults, but I would not categorize it as such.

Racism, elitism, war, disregard for life, hope, diversity, heritage, and self are the themes that are woven through the story.  Sadly, friendship, and cooperation do not seem to be important.   The Blood Trials ends just as things are getting interesting.  No, not a cliffhanger, but there is much more to the story.  I have every intention of reading book two when it comes out. 

Through Netgalley, the publisher provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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About The Blood Trials by N.E. Davenport

It’s all about blood.

The blood spilled between the Republic of Mareen and the armies of the Blood Emperor long ago. The blood gifts of Mareen’s deadliest enemies. The blood that runs through the elite War Houses of Mareen, the rulers of the Tribunal dedicated to keeping the republic alive.

The blood of the former Legatus, Verne Amari, murdered. For his granddaughter, Ikenna, the only thing steady in her life was the man who had saved Mareen. The man who had trained her in secret, not just in martial skills, but in harnessing the blood gift that coursed through her. Who trained her to keep that a secret.

But now there are too many secrets, and with her grandfather assassinated, Ikenna knows two things: that only someone on the Tribunal could have ordered his death, and that only a Praetorian Guard could have carried out that order.

Bent on revenge as much as discovering the truth, Ikenna pledges herself to the Praetorian Trials—a brutal initiation that only a quarter of the aspirants survive. She subjects herself to the racism directed against her half-Khanaian heritage and the misogyny of a society that cherishes progeny over prodigy, all while hiding a power that—if found out—would subject her to execution…or worse. Ikenna is willing to risk it all because she needs to find out who murdered her grandfather…and then she needs to kill them.

Mareen has been at peace for a long time. Ikenna joining the Praetorians is about to change all that.

Magic and technology converge in the first part of this stunning debut duology, where loyalty to oneself—and one’s blood—is more important than anything.

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