Paperback Review

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  • Paperback: Bloodheir
  • Author: Brian Ruckley
  • Publisher: Orbit
  • Pages: 528
  • Price: $14.99


Mania scopes out the new Brian Ruckley book.

By Pat Ferrara     June 27, 2008

BLOODHEIR, the second addition of Brian Ruckley's Godless World Trilogy(2008).
© Orbit Books

Following last month’s stateside release of Winterbirth, the heroic fantasy opener to Brian Ruckley’s Godless World Trilogy, Bloodheir continues the tale of the True Bloods’ struggle against the exiled Black Road nation, but with rather blasé results.


Under the leadership of the Horin-Gyre Blood, the banished Black Road have flooded south below the Vale of Tears, splintering the uneasy peace amongst the self-proclaimed True Bloods. Their strict credo of predestination has helped stimulate a monumental attack, an attack that snowballed from a mere raid to reclaim land into a major spearhead offensive to bring about the return of the Gods.


In a time of disunity and growing dissent, the ordinarily robust defenses of the Lannis Blood, the northernmost fiefdom, were quickly overrun. Orisian, with the help of two Kyrinin (fair-skinned, Night Elf-like warriors), was able to avoid the slaughter that claimed most of his family. Now the ruler of the remaining Lannis Blood, Orisian must decide whether to follow the orders of a neglectful High Thane or pursue information on the only threat that could trump the advancing Black Road army.


Though an entertaining book in its own right, Ruckley’s Bloodheir unfortunately takes a step backwards from the epic caliber established in Winterbirth. Instead of expanding upon the Godless World Bloodheir actually delimits its scope, focusing on a handful of characters to the detriment of others. In particular a large portion of the book is dedicated to Aeglyss, the half-human / half-Kyrinin na’kyrim, and his swift rise to terrible, hatred-fueled power. While Aeglyss is an interesting persona, the other main players just don’t get enough screen time in the wake of establishing the na’kyrim as the central villain.


The undisputed protagonist of the novel, Orisian, is far removed from the main plotline of Bloodheir. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but not enough happens with the young Thane to make his journey worthwhile to the reader. Orisian’s Kyrinin friends, brother and sister Ess’yr and Varryn, were some of the most dynamic character additions to the original troupe, yet in Bloodheir they only get a few lines, at best, and no new depth. For that matter a lot of the favorites of Winterbirth are only cursorily sketched; Orisian’s sister Anyara gets a mere handful of POVs, Roaric nan Kilkry-Haig gets none at all, and Taim Narran’s perspective, though a little more fleshed out, is still too tantalizingly brief.


The balance to this omission of character insight is a lot more time spent with the less savory personas of the Godless World. Aside from Aeglyss we also get behind the eyes of Mordyn Jerain, the High Thane Gryvan oc Haig’s chancellor and infamous Shadowhand. Again this extra layering of characterization is fascinating, but still feels like a shoddy tradeoff considering everyone else who gets overlooked.


All of this could be forgiven, however, if the plot boasted action worthy of an epic fantasy novel. But alas, not even a culminating battle at the end of the book is enough to warrant the noticeable lack of blood and gore in the previous 400-odd pages.   


In the end Brian Ruckley’s Bloodheir suffers from middle-itis, that nefarious disease that tends to infect the middle tome of sci-fi and fantasy trilogies. Although I was disappointed in this installment, the Godless World is still a great fantasy read and worthy of attention…if only for its opening and, hopefully, concluding volumes.          


Showing items 1 - 5 of 5
AMiSHPiRATE 6/27/2008 6:27:11 AM
dear brian ruckley, because you didn't give us a bunch of money, we're going to give an honest review of your book. for future reference, you should be more like those "gone" people and give us our lunch money for the week, then we can say your book is totally awesome. sincerely, mania
almostunbiased 6/27/2008 7:09:53 AM
kaybar 6/27/2008 8:10:52 AM
It does look like that doesn't it. Check out what other people are saying about both books.
chirop1 6/28/2008 6:33:59 AM
Finished the book last night. I think I probably liked it better than Pat, but I certainly agree with all of his points. My overall impression was that it was indeed a middle book. On the plus side, I thought the pacing in this book was better than Winterbirth. It took me a good while to get into a good reading "flow" on that one, but I was able to run with this one much easier. Probably the best scene in the book for me wasn't the big battle at the end, but the first battle towards the middle of the book. I thought Ruckley did a great job of characterising the frantic confusion of a battle where everything is going to **** in the middle of a snowstorm. All in all, not a bad second effort. I'll certainly read Fall of Thanes if only to know how things finish up.
chip 6/28/2008 8:43:49 AM
Hey Amishpirate, Usually it takes more than 9 days to be signed up at Mania before one can pontificate crap about this site. You have no clue what you are talking about because how would you, you just signed up to this site. We actually ran a home page reskin for your information on Brian Ruckley's book Winterbirth back in April. We have very good relations with his publishers Hachette and guess what genius, we were paid for that reskin back in April and plan to do more business with the publisher. But yet you give us crap because our independent reviewer did an an honest review of another one of his books? Before you mouth off again, spend a few weeks on this site that we have been running for about 10 years.


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