Bloodring, by Faith Hunter

>> Tuesday, November 06, 2007

TITLE: Bloodring
AUTHOR: Faith Hunter

PAGES: 352

SETTING: Post-apocalyptic Earth
TYPE: Fantasy
SERIES: Starts one. Followed by Seraphs and Host

REASON FOR READING: I heard about it in one of the yahoo groups I'm in, and what I heard, especially about the world it was set in, sounded interesting.

In a novel filled with lush imagery and exhilarating action, Faith Hunter creates a near-future world caught in the throes of an ambiguous apocalypse-where a woman with everything to hide finds her true destiny revealed.

As humanity struggles with religious strife and seraphs and demons fight a never-ending battle, a new species has arisen. "Neomages" are human in appearance, but able to twist left-over creation energy to their will. A threat to both humans and seraphs, they are confined in luxurious Enclaves.

Thorn St. Croix is no ordinary neomage. Nearly driven insane by her powers, she is smuggled out of an Enclave and now lives among humans, channeling her gift of stone-magery into jewelry making. But when Thaddeus Bartholomew, a dangerously attractive policeman, tells her that her ex-husband has been kidnapped, Thorn risks revealing her identity to find him. And for Thorn, the punishment for revelation is death.
THE PLOT: The summary I quote above is actually really good, so I won't bother with my own.

MY THOUGHTS: I'm afraid this book was a bit of a disappointment. On the positive side, the world Hunter created showed much promise. I thought the premise and many of the details were fascinating and fresh. I mean, the action takes place about a hundred years after Earth suffered an apocalypsis, almost right out of the Bible visions. The people in this story are the descendants of the few survivors of the catastrophes, and it's a world with a very close and immediate relationship with the formerly intangible mysteries of religion, which are now right there. In that sense, it reminded me of parts of Sharon Shinn's Samaria series. And even more intriguing, there are some hints that things might not be quite as clearly-cut Biblical as most people assume. This doesn't really go anywhere in this book, but I would imagine there will be more developments later. With this basic premise, Hunter managed to create an atmosphere I could almost taste, it felt so real.

But... I started out the book feeling like I had some catching up to do, and never managed to succeed. It's obvious that this is not a world the author is making up as she goes along. Everything here indicates that has a detailed universe in her mind and that it has its own rules and its own complex history. And that's great, that's just as it should be with fantasy. The thing is, what's probably really obvious in her mind wasn't always as obvious to me, the reader, and I spent much of the book feeling a bit lost, for all that I was reading slowly and carefully. There are things that still don't make sense to me now, like why exactly the neomages are so hated, or the exact nature of the kylen and what happened between Thorn and the seraphs all those years before. As for the ending and the final confrontation, with that seraph intervention, I'm still scratching my head over it. I can't make up my mind if this is all something I should have understood completely or if it's some kind of cliffhanger-ish ending.

In addition to this, though the characters were interesting, they all felt distant to me, including the narrator, Thorn. There was a detatched feel to her reactions; even when we were told she was terrified, I just couldn't feel it. Hunter told us this kind of thing, rather than show us. I just thought Thorn was a bit dull and never particularly cared about the whole thing with her ex-husband being kidnapped. What's more, I never truly got why she would care, either. That's the kind of thing I mean, even after reading the whole book, the narrator is still a mystery to me.

MY GRADE: I'm regretfully going to have to go with a C-. I would be interested in seeing in what direction Hunter takes her world, but actually reading this book was too frustrating for me to continue with the series.


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