Blood Road

320p. (Blood Oath: Bk. 1). Month9Books. Apr. 2017. pap. $15. ISBN 9781945107887.
Gr 7–10—A medieval fantasy with plenty of fighting, desert sand, and men who can't seem to get along. Noble-born Torien Risto is riding his horse with his manservant-friend Alluin when someone fiercely stabs Torien's shoulder from behind. Alluin and Torien manage to capture Torien's assailant and are surprised to discover that the person who stabbed Torien is a teen girl. The girl tells Torien that her brother—a free man—has been taken as a slave. Torien vows that he will discover who's been kidnapping free citizens and why. Torien and Alluin set out to uncover the truth about their Empire and what exactly is happening to people who find themselves forced into slavery on the Blood Road. Torien is painted as a superhero noble, but his altruistic motives aren't exactly clear. The girl who stabbed Torien is a complete stranger to him; he owes her nothing at all. Any normal person would be upset at such an injury, especially since Torien did nothing to deserve the girl's spear in his back. Yet Torien promises her that he will investigate the kidnappings, despite the danger to himself and his friend Alluin. There is plenty of action, but at times, the plot gets lost in wordy prose. Nearly all the characters are men, and the few women who appear are underdeveloped and shallow.
VERDICT A fine addition for where medieval stories about war and constantly quarreling nomadic tribes circulate well.

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