Blood of the Four by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon is phenomenal. Prepare yourself for a fantastic journey you won't soon forget.
Phela wants power. Demos wants vengeance. Daria wants to lead. Blane wants the truth. But at what expense?
Princess Phela has perfected the art of eavesdropping. She sneaks around the palace quiet as a mouse - quieter - utilizing forgotten passageways to listen in on private conversations and clandestine meetings. In another life, perhaps she would have been a spy. But in this one, she's a power-hungry royal who will stop at nothing to get what she wants.
Her sister, Myrienne, is betrothed to Demos Kallistrate, and they are very much in love. When the Kallistrates are publicly shamed, injured, and enslaved, both Demos and Myrienne must endure an uphill battle to find their way back to one another, and to save the land they love. While Demos struggles to regain his freedom and restore the Kallistrate name, Myrienne's fight is just as difficult, and in the face of deep betrayal and tragedy, her unwavering resilence and strength is most admirable.
Elsewhere, Blane becomes a novice in the priesthood, although his beliefs differ greatly from those surrounding him; and Daria, who proudly sails the seas as an admiral in the navy, harbors a secret of her own.
Blood of the Four drew me in from the start and kept my attention until the very end. The complexity of the characters was fantastic, with personal histories and ulterior motives creating plenty of tension and quandries. The different stories were given equal importance, and led to lovely payoffs when they intersected.
Throughout the book, women are soldiers, sailors, warriors, and leaders without their capability ever being questioned due to their gender. Characters also range in size, shape, and skin color, with no specific standard of beauty; the Bajumen have blue eyes, but since they are considered to be the lowest class, this means blue eyes are not considered beautiful or desirable in this world.
Kudos to Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon for creating this exciting and magical voyage to the land of Quandis.
Here's the book flap summary:
The acclaimed authors of The Map of Moments and The Secret Journeys of Jack London join creative forces once more in this epic, standalone novel - an exciting dark fantasy of gods and mortals, fools and heroes, saviors and destroyers with a brilliant beam of hope at its core.
In the great kingdom of Quandis, everyone is a slave. Some are slaves to the gods. Most are slaves to everyone else.
Blessed by the gods with lives of comfort and splendor, the royal elite routinely perform their duties, yet some chafe at their role. A young woman of stunning ambition, Princess Phela refuses to allow a few obstacles - including her mother the queen and her brother, the heir apparent – stand in the way of claiming ultimate power and glory for herself.
Far below the royals are the Bajuman. Poor and oppressed, members of this wretched caste have but two paths out of servitude: the priesthood . . . or death.
Because magic has been kept at bay in Quandis, royals and Bajuman have lived together in an uneasy peace for centuries. But Princess Phela’s desire for power will disrupt the realm’s order, setting into motion a series of events that will end with her becoming a goddess in her own right . . . or ultimately destroying Quandis and all its inhabitants.
Read an excerpt at Nerdist.