Blood War by K.J. Colt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Blood War (The Healers of Meligna, Book 5) By K.J. Colt is the fifth of the series. A lot of series reach a point where they start stretching almost as though belaboring a point and threatening to be a never-ending story until readers start dropping out from sheer exhaustion. I have it from the highest authority that number six should put end to this series.
Now I just have to figure out if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
From the start we've watch Adenine grow from a seemingly tortured and abused child to something far greater than anyone might ask. And in her journey she certainly hasn't sought this out, well not in the manner that others before her have. We've watched her grow from someone pushed through life by a fate larger than her to someone who has decided to take life by scruff of its neck and give it a good shake before she examines and molds it into something far more acceptable.
And now she's reached the point where she's forced to do what she is most reluctant to do, wage war, because the consequences are beyond control.
This book opens with a scene that for some reason brought to mind Elizabeth Bear's All the Windwracked Stars. Maybe it's the notion of snow and the carnage of war with a contrast of white and blood and similar images. Though All the Windwracked Stars started mostly at the end of a battle, this book is still in the midst of battle; however the images are striking and vivid in both books.
For Adenine this is a tough battle and it is defining a length of dilemma that her own moral values have restricted and confined her. It's the crux of the story. As bodies fall she watches her own people putting arrows into friend and foe alike. This is all about the healing blood and how it has to be delivered to keep those who would otherwise perish from having to die. Her toughest goal though is to keep everyone alive, both friend and foe and in war that could be a fatal agenda and it certainly does not endear her to her own generals.
Just as she has done in previous books K.J. Colt examines some tough moral ground both in positive and negative directions and her main character is standing in the midst of those; challenging our ability to sympathize with her all of the time. It's not just the war--the conflict--but also it's her personal life and decisions, as she marches forward into battle carrying the children of one of her two lovers who are forced together at her side to fight this battle with her.
So with this fantastic beginning it would be a wonder if I mentioned that the story almost drags a bit at the beginning. I think that this is true of the first book in the series also. It's not an entirely bad thing and the first chapters make up for any slowdown in the next few; however there is a stage to set for this story and it takes a bit of time and as usual K.J. Colt manages to goad the reader with a bit of frustration with how Adenine is going about things.
Sometimes Adenine seems like her own worst enemy.
Things work out, but along the way Adenine has a number of lessons to learn and the most critical is one that we keep being remind of throughout and that is that you can't save everyone. However I've a feeling that Adenine is of the mind that she will die trying.
These stories can be read separately and give the reader a satisfyingly complete novel from front to back and usually enough background to keep the reader sane. However I would still advise anyone new to them to read them all.
Adenine is a wonderfully flawed and perfectly human character that constantly has to exceed her limits despite herself and it's difficult not to love her despite all the frustration she manages to put the reader through.
This is a must read for epic fantasy lovers and lovers of well built fantastic worlds.
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