Note: This was published on my old blog last January 15, 2015. If I can find the I've begun reading the final book of the trilogy and will be posting a review when I've read it.
I got my hands on A review copy indie author Ben Galley’s new novel, Bloodrush, and now that I’ve finally finished it, I can give it a review. This is Ben’s fifth book and is different than his Emanska series as the protagonist is a young man of 13 and not a grizzled and jaded veteran. Additionally it isn’t set in your typical fantasy setting, it’s set in in the Wild West. I had never really read any “western fantasy” before so this is a new sub-genre for me to be reading.
Bloodrush is the first book of the Scarlet Star Trilogy. It takes place in an alternate universe which is a little steampunk and set in the 1800s, during the time of western expansion and railroad building. Where this universe split from ours was sometime in the dark ages. I asked Galley for a specific point but he indicated that would be going into spoiler territory.
Being this is a dark fantasy book and the first one of a trilogy, I thought it would interesting to review the world building and magic systems Galley has developed in addition to a review of the book. Let’s face it, if you like fantasy it is more than likely you like discovering new worlds and learning about new magic systems.
World Building - Back in the early 90s there was a debate between two similar sci-fi shows, Babylon 5 and Deep Space 9. And which one was better. One of the reasons I preferred Babylon 5 was because the world was messy and lived in. There wasn’t a perfect being or government that existed. I beleive Galley does a very good job of building his worlds for the same reason. They feel lived in and messy, and that is the way a world should feel. Additionally the extra characters that live in the world always seems to be delighful.
Magic System - The magic system in Bloodrush is similar to the magic system used in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series. The concept is a person ingests something which gives them abilities. In the case of Bloodrush it’s blood of different animals as opposed to Sanderson’s ingesting of metal. (At this time it’s important to point out I don’t think Galley stole the idea from Sanderson, nor am I making such an accusation.) As all good magic systems should, there are downsides and drawbacks to using the magic.
The Review - Now it’s time to focus on the book and all of those bookish things like plot, characters, etc. Overall I thought the book was well done. I felt for Tonmerion and his plight. Tonmerion as a character was well flushed out and his desire to get back home and take revenge was understandable for a boy of 13, especially when he has the ability to do magic. His plot line throughout the book was well paced and tight. What I’ll call the B plot (Rhin attempting to find a Hoard) was a little slow but the twist at the end I didn’t see coming. Having said that I thought the resolution of the plot twist was a little too quick. In my opinion it should have lingered into the second book.
The antagonist(s) were pretty evil and their plan was a plan I didn’t think of. I did think it was an effective use of introducing certain aspects of the larger world. I did expect them to be around for more than one book. However having thought about the plot and what may come in the next two book, it made sense.
I would suggest that if you appreciate a good fantasy series and want to support indie authors, buy a copy of Bloodrush today. Although I have a review copy I also bought a copy of the book because I think it’s worth the price.