The Bloodbound is the first in a fantasy series set in a world that is in the midst of war. Lady Alix Black disobeys orders and ends up saving the life of her king, and finds herself promoted to his bodyguard. While Alix feels some reservations for leaving her comrades behind, there are distinct benefits for being Captain of the king’s guards, like taking part in the war council. It also doesn’t hurt that King Erik isn’t hard on the eyes.
In all honestly, I had a hard time getting into this book. The premise for The Bloodbound caught my attention; I was getting a Tamora Pierce vibe what with the whole lady warrior thing. And this element was present in The Bloodbound but there just seemed to be something missing when it came to character development and character relationships.
Lady Alix Black is an impetuous young woman, not given much to thinking through her decisions. In The Bloodbound Alix came dangerously close to being a “special snowflake”. She’s promoted to Captain and her opinion automatically taken as important by the king. Yes, she saved the guy in battle, but I’m at a loss to explain what makes Alix stand out as a commander and leader other than readers are told this is the case. What saves Alix from the special snowflake syndrome is her lack of finesse when it comes to her romantic entanglements.
Before becoming Erik’s bodyguard, Alix was on the cusp of embarking on a relationship with her comrade at arms, Liam. However, considering the fact that Liam is a bastard, and therefore of no social standing, a permanent relationship (i.e. marriage) is not possible. Of course, this does not stop Alix from pursuing Liam, which leads to some complications down the road when Alix begins to find herself attracted to the king after being separated from Liam. Alix’s blundering into and out of these relationships go a long way in making Alix a more complex character, giving her some much-needed flaws.
Despite the fact that I liked the fact that Alix was embroiled in this tangled mess of romance, I also found the romance itself to be lacking. For me, the romance was a bit lifeless. Like Alix’s credentials as a military strategist, the romance and emotions surrounding it are told rather than shown. Personally, I would have liked a bit more exploration of these dynamics, and I think it would have made the romance(s) much stronger. Thankfully, there was resolution to this entanglement, which I think will make for some interesting reading in the next book in the series.
Lastly, for those fantasy fans that are big on world building, I have to say that you might be a little disappointed. Generally, I’m not overly concerned about intricate world building, since I’m all about the characters. I liked the world of The Bloodbound – the fact that women can take part in military service and lead men into battle is awesome. But, there were some details that were a little foggy, which I think might trouble those going into this hoping for an extensive and detailed world. This wasn’t a problem for me, but considering the fantasy buffs that I know, I can see this being a let down for some.
The Bloodbound was a decent introduction to a world and while it had it’s flaws, I can’t help but feel that the author did a good job in setting the stage for book two. Very convenient that I have book two loaded up on my Kobo. Look for my review of book 2, The Bloodforged next week!
There was something about The Bloodbound that had a YA feel – perhaps the romantic triangle? At any rate, the YA feel leads me to my first recommendation, the fantastic Snow Like Ashes. Romance, war, and a great heroine, there’s a lot to love – see my review for why.
If you liked the fact that Alix is a solider, its a must to check out Django Wexler’s Shadow Campaign series. One of the most awesome characters is a woman in disguise and she becomes the leader of a company of women soldiers. Seriously good fantasy, and the world building is quite a bit more detailed than The Bloodbound. Start with book one, The Thousand Names.
Lastly, for those who enjoyed the romance, I think M.J. Scott’s The Shattered Court is a good follow-up, especially if you’re shipping Alix and Liam. The Shattered Court does have some political intrigue plot stuff happening, but its mainly focused on the romance between a high born lady and soldier. See my full review here.