Book Review: Bloodstone - Mania.com



Book Review

Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • Author: Gillian Philip
  • Book Series: Rebel Angels
  • Publisher: Tor/Forge
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
  • Series:

Book Review: Bloodstone

From the Rebel Angel series

By Chuck Francisco     November 24, 2013
Source: Mania.com


Bloodstone by Gillian Philip
© Tor/Forge
Warrior brothers Conal and Seth return for this second entry in Gillian Philip's Rebel Angel series. Having been banished by their Queen, Kate NicNiven, at the close of Firebrand, the two find themselves still questing for the elusive bloodstone centuries later in our modern world. While that may sound impossible, the brothers are Sithe- making them timeless though not immortal. And while they have been exiled it is not from some distant land which they had to flee, but from a land parallel to ours yet separated by a magical veil. A gateway between the realms lies within walking distance of their home leading to illicit excursions of exile breaking for the men. It's one such fateful trip which sets into motion the machinations of Bloodstone, knocking over the first domino in a Rube Goldbergian device of interconnect plot threads. Rewardingly these currents never flow quite where one would expect.

Just as the brothers exist in both worlds, so to does the novel. The first book, Firebrand, took place during the 16th century of our time, providing a feeling of fantasy despite which world our protagonists travelled to. Progressing Earth to the modern era grants dual personalities to Bloodstone, equal measure high and urban fantasy. There is a precarious balance to be struck here and Gillian Philip manages it with the alacrity of a world class tight rope walker. Deftly she weaves a gritty, substantially real world, while simultaneously rewarding readers with the sort of fantastical otherworld which contains an intriguing alien quality. Certainly the world of the Sithe is much more interesting, but happily Philip is quite talented in continually weaves an engrossing tale.

Another fascinating facet of Bloodstone is the narrative focus, which rotates between three characters who are intrinsically flawed. Seth, the protagonist of Firebrand, returns as a self centered hedonist with a mouth that constantly gets him into trouble. Joining him in Bloodstone's character triumvirate is Finn- the cynical and angst ridden daughter of a fellow Sithe warrior, and Jed- a low rent thief trying to care for his baby brother and drug addled mother. These are complex, multifaceted characters which feel real, occupying lives that feel well lived in. Many authors write unsavory protagonists but it takes a truly talented author to give these sorts of characters streaks of likability, as is the case here. We can never fully write these people off as beyond redemption. 

As the rebel Sithe quest for the titular bloodstone, the key to repairing a slowly collapsing veil between the worlds, the centuries wear on and their goal seems hopeless. An unquenchable urgency drives the homesick group to tempt dangerous jaunts across the veil, all but daring marauding patrols to confront them. The danger is compelling, and no less severe is the mental danger as these fey battle with both steel and their steely minds. 

Bloodstone is an exciting, multifaceted ride with uniquely flawed protagonists that aren't the indisputable good guys commonly placed upon pedestals throughout the genre. This is a solid and enjoyable follow up to Firebrand, and the exciting next step in the Rebel Angels series. Author Gillian Philip is playing with magical ingredients, swirling them around in a cauldron of wonderful adventure.

Bloodstone is available now from Tor Publishing in hardback for $24.99. Order it Here.

 

 

Chuck Francisco is a columnist and critic for Mania, writing Wednesday's Shock-O-Rama, the weekly look into classic cult, horror and sci-fi. He is a co-curator of several repertoire film series at the world famous  Colonial Theatre  in Phoenixville, PA. You can hear him drop nerd knowledge on weekly podcast You've Got Geek or think him a fool of a Took on Twitter.

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