Bloodchild is the final part of the Godblind trilogy from Anna Stephens. We’ve reviewed the previous instalment here , and found both the first and second books to be fantastic works of fantasy.
So, if you’re here to read the final part of the trilogy, you’re probably wondering…does it measure up? Does it have brutally visceral action? Sudden reverses, betrayals, lives hanging on the turn of a word? Gods striding the lands of men? Relationships which are artfully drawn to feel immediate, personal, heartbreakingly human? Wonderfully crafted villains, who can be empathised with as people, even as they’re busy being awful people doing awful things?
Yes. Yes to all of that.
I could probably write a paean to the sheer mastery of craft on display in this narrative. The way the text is a crescendo of tension, each page turning the screw just that little bit more tightly. The way each of the characters, from your favourite (and I know we all have a favourite) hero to the most reviled villain get the closure both we and they deserve. The world, from ruined forts to occupied cities, from liminal spaces populated by the divine, to muddy, blood-soaked fields. There’s a diversity of environment, but not just that – each has the detail, the depth, the solidity that makes it feel real.
I think this is, if it wasn’t clear already, a very good book.
Well, some of you may be saying, tell me about the characters. Tell me that the one I like, lives, the one I don’t, dies. Tell me that the feels are still there, that these words on a page still make a wonderfully realised person.
Well, the second of those things is certainly true. I’ve said before how much I enjoy the villains of this piece. The way they do all sorts of terrible, terrible things (often lovingly, viciously described), but manage to make sense as more than two-bit caricatures. They’re lovingly spun from the stuff of nightmares – family men who commit atrocities, thoughtful, ambitious women who order those atrocities. They’re people, is the point. People like us, albeit at the horrific end of the spectrum. There are weird creatures here, true enough, gods and prophets, but the most terrible thing is the people, the way they’re shaped, the way they shape themselves; the viewpoint chapters for the villainous Mireces are fabulously horrifying. On the other hand, our protagonists are equally compelling. In many ways, each is paying the price from previous books. Be that in imprisonment, in slavery, in fear, in responsibility, in truth. But they also show off the best of people – in their courage, in their grit, in a determination to hold fast, to keep each other safe, to do the right thing, not the easy thing. To pay the price, if it needs paying.
Yes, these characters, in a world of gods and monsters, are the work of writing that scintillates darkly across the page, giving us heroes and villains, and sometimes both in the same person. This is top-notch writing, characterisation that makes you want to laugh and weep along with the people on the page.
I’m not going to tell you who lives and who dies though, that would be spoiling things. That said, it’s worth remembering that this is a lethal world, where no-one is entirely safe.
The story – well, you can see my emotional reaction above. I don’t want to get into detail But just to round things off. Yes, there is an end that meets the outstanding quality of the story so far. No, it did not disappoint. Yes, your heart will be in your mouth at points. Yes, it’s something of an emotional rollercoaster. Yes, the payoff is absolutely worth it, in each line, in each page, in a book which grabs hold and won’t let you go until it’s done.
Yes, this is a good book, a bloody book, and a bloody good book. It’s a fantastic conclusion to a brilliant trilogy, and I advise you to pick up a copy straight away.