Review: A Time of Blood by John Gwynne

A Time of Blood

John Gwynne

Of Blood and Bone #2

Pan MacMillan

474 pages


Release Date: 18/4/19


Copy received from Netgalley.  All thoughts are my own.

Let’s be honest, A Time of Blood was always going to be a five star read for me.  A Time of Dread was one of my favourite books in 2018 so I was completely expecting to love this book just as much.  It appeared on my most anticipated books for 2019 post so when I saw it on Netgalley there was no way I wasn’t going to request it immediately and love every single page I read.

God, this book was awesome.

Summary: Defy the darkness. Defend the light.

Drem and his friends flee the battle at Starstone Lake to warn the Order of the Bright Star. They’ve witnessed horrors they’ll never forget, such as magic warping men into beasts. But worst of all, they’ve seen a demon rise from the dead – making it even more powerful. Now Fritha, the demons’ high priestess, is hunting Drem’s party.

Concealed in Forn Forest, Riv struggles to understand her half-breed heritage. She represents the warrior angels’ biggest secret, one which could break their society. And when she’s found by the Ben-Elim’s high captain, he swoops in for the kill.

As demonic forces multiply, they send a mighty war-host to overthrow the angel’s stronghold. This could decimate the fractured Ben-Elim. And their allies in the Order may be too overwhelmed to send aid – with Fritha and her monstrous beasts closing in. Like heroes of old, Drem and the Bright Star’s warriors must battle to save their land. But can the light triumph when the dark is rising?

John Gwynne has firmly cemented his place as one of my favourite fantasy writers and A Time of Blood is an excellent read.  I was hooked from the first page to the huge cliff hanger at the end.  The plot is fantastic and moves along at a very satisfying pace, building and building until you’re sat there almost screaming “oh my god” (or is that just me?).  This book was unputdownable.

The story picks up straight after the end of the first book so I won’t spoil anything by going into too much detail but let’s just say that the story is epic.  The stakes continue to be raised throughout the book until it climaxes in a jaw dropping cliff hanger.  If you aren’t cursing the fact you have to wait for the next book once you’re finished then you have no soul.  This novel has everything: action, sweet character moments, betrayal, epic battle scenes.  What more could a reader want?

And the characters, oh the characters.  They are part of why John Gwynne’s books are so good (and the plot, and the worldbuilding and the battles) and they all deliver.  I said in review of A Time of Dread that I was a little bit on the fence about Bleda and I am happy to say that I now think he is awesome.  His story exploded and I really started to love him a lot more in this book.  His relationship with Riv was sweet (as the young people say I ship it) and I love where Gwynne took his story in regards to his betrothal.  I am very excited to see what happens next.  Riv was also amazing.  I loved how she spent a lot of the novel agonising over the fact that everything about her life and beliefs were a lie but you can still count on her in a fight.  She is strong and vulnerable and I loved reading her chapters.

Most of my love, however, has to be saved for Drem.  I said in my review of A Time of Dread that he was my favourite character and he is now more of my favourite character.  He is just so complete as a character, he could be a real person.  Yes he is strong and brave and he doesn’t back down from a fight but he also gets scared, he grieves, and he is often anxious which is wonderful to see in a character.  He often states that he feels nervous being around so many people, having grown up very isolated, and that is a very relatable trait to see in a character.  He’s not afraid to admit when he’s out of his depth and I love him for that.  Drem is such a lovely character and I adored reading his chapters above everyone else’s.

Finally, I have to talk about the world and the battles.  After reading all of The Faithful and The Fallen and A Time of Dread, I have to say that I love this world.  It is wonderfully realised and beautifully described by Gwynne.  I can imagine it in my mind and it feels so completely real to me.  That can also be said about the battle scenes.  They are raw and brutal and very, very exciting to read.  I will admit that sometimes I can get a little bit bored of reading fighting scenes but not here because Gwynne writes them so amazingly that I find myself completely drawn into the fighting scenes.

A Time of Blood was amazing.  There’s nothing more I can say and no more superlatives I can add.  It raises the stakes from the first book and the pace doesn’t falter.  The characters are wonderful and I am loving going on this journey with them.  I am eagerly awaiting the next book now because it ends in the perfect place to make you want to read more and I am going to spend the entirety of 2019 sitting on the edge of my seat until I can find out what happens next.  Bravo, Mr. Gwynne, you have yet another winner here.


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