Review: Blood's Pride / Author: Evie Manieri / Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books / Release Date: September 13th
The debut novel by Evie Manieri, Blood’s Pride is also the first book in the Shattered Kingdoms trilogy. We were hooked right from the prologue. Manieri paints a picture of a calm Shadari settlement suddenly ruined by the appearance of a fleet of ships and flying creatures. This marks the arrival of the Dead Ones, tall humanoids with an ice cold metabolism lending a bluish tint to their appearance. The Norlanders (to give them their actual name) quickly set about wrecking the settlement as the Shadari wait for their spiritual leaders, imbued with powers that could easily rid the settlement of the Dead Ones, to act. Only they don’t. Instead they throw themselves off a cliff to their deaths.
From such a strong opening we had very high hopes for Blood’s Pride, though sadly we quickly realised we were doomed to disappointment. The rest of the novel takes place a generation later, with the Shadari now slaves to the Dead Ones who have turned the settlement into a mining outpost. The cast of characters is a generous one and Manieri juggles them well, every character having their own agendas and impact on the plot. The issue we have is that the characterisation is left drastically wanting. Pretty much everyone in Blood’s Pride reads alike as Manieri uses the same style of speech for every character, yet occasionally adding a more idiolectic bit of dialogue that forces you out of the novel.
In addition, it seems like the only way two characters can say goodbye in Blood’s Pride is dramatically. We lost count of the number of times Manieri had characters in an emotional, lingering goodbye, where, just as one character is walking away the other one shouts their name. A little more effort in fleshing out the characters would have gone a long way to making it the debut novel it is so close to being, a problem made all the more frustrating when you read the most interesting character in Blood’s Pride: the Mongrel. Her aloof nature and questionable loyalty really goes a long way to keep you wondering where she’ll take the plot next.
This brings us to the highlight of the novel, the plot. Manieri clearly has a talent for intricate plots as she gradually reveals what really happened a generation ago, when the ashas left the Shadari to their subjugation and committed suicide, and why that means the second book, Fortune’s Blight, is likely to be much better than the first. Despite our gripes about the characters, we’re still looking forward to Fortune’s Blight and, as such, we would still recommend Blood’s Pride to fans of fantasy.