This is a review from GoodReads which you can find HERE. You can find The Blood Trials by N. E. Davenport HERE.
3 stars: I liked it
SYNOPSIS OF THE blood trials
Blending fantasy and science fiction, N. E. Davenport’s fast-paced, action-packed debut kicks off a duology of loyalty and rebellion, in which a young Black woman must survive deadly trials in a racist and misogynistic society to become an elite warrior.
It’s all about blood.
The blood spilled between the Republic of Mareen and the armies of the Blood Emperor long ago. The blood gifts of Mareen’s deadliest enemies. The blood that runs through the elite War Houses of Mareen, the rulers of the Tribunal dedicated to keeping the republic alive.
The blood of the former Legatus, Verne Amari, murdered.
For his granddaughter, Ikenna, the only thing steady in her life was the man who had saved Mareen. The man who had trained her in secret, not just in martial skills, but in harnessing the blood gift that coursed through her.
Who trained her to keep that a secret.
But now there are too many secrets, and with her grandfather assassinated, Ikenna knows two things: that only someone on the Tribunal could have ordered his death, and that only a Praetorian Guard could have carried out that order.
Bent on revenge as much as discovering the truth, Ikenna pledges herself to the Praetorian Trials—a brutal initiation that only a quarter of the aspirants survive. She subjects herself to the racism directed against her half-Khanaian heritage and the misogyny of a society that cherishes progeny over prodigy, all while hiding a power that—if found out—would subject her to execution…or worse. Ikenna is willing to risk it all because she needs to find out who murdered her grandfather…and then she needs to kill them.
Mareen has been at peace for a long time…
Ikenna joining the Praetorians is about to change all that.
Magic and technology converge in the first part of this stunning debut duology, where loyalty to oneself—and one’s blood—is more important than anything.
A big thanks to NetGalley and Harper Voyage for providing me with an unedited E-ARC of The Blood Trials to read and review. I do have a lot to say, so here we go:
There are many strong points of this story that I really liked such as the interesting story and world-building, a strong woman of color as the main character dealing with racism and proving herself despite it, and a very vivid sex scene (that I was NOT prepared for but still enjoyed though I don’t think was necessary). Also, I really loved the cover which I thought was gorgeous and really enticing and made me want to read the book even more than the blurb alone.
However, though I’m very happy I finished this book, I have to say that the first half was SO hard to get through.
The constant repetitive introspection of the main character was SO hard to get over, I get that she was obsessing over what happened to her grandfather but I don’t get why the reader had to read over and over the same information we were given at the start. Not only, but there are major info-dumps and an excessive amount of details placed on the weapons that the characters use that I really didn’t enjoy or care reading about.
There were also major grammatical errors and plot holes that I really hope they fix since I got an unedited version (such as a Comm Unit going “missing” when Kenna goes to snoop around Chanse’s and Reed’s room that she clearly had on her when she left Chanse’s room).
There were parts where the story lulled to a near-complete stop and then suddenly we had an action scene, and again and again. I really hope that this problem is fixed in the completed and edited version because it is a very nice story and I really like Kenna as a character, but the potential the story has isn’t coming out just yet.
Though I liked this part as I stated above (once I adjusted to it) I was not prepared for the sex scene that was presented to me so suddenly and I think the book could have done without it altogether. I started the book thinking it was a YA novel and there was nothing in the description to make me believe any differently, so this threw me off kilt a bit. Thus, if you’re reading this, know that it’s more of a New Adult (NA) story than it is YA.
I also wish there was more of an introduction to Enoch than there actually was, because of his and his family’s appearance in the story towards the end, even though he’s “mentioned” very briefly at the beginning, made it feel like a new/different story altogether. As if book 1 was supposed to end at the end of the Praetorian training and book 2 were to start where she is an actual Praetorian, but that would leave the reader with too many unanswered questions which would do the book more harm than good, so that wouldn’t work. Thus a better introduction to Enoch’s importance to the story and weaving his existence/importance throughout the first half of the book would make that starch difference feel a little less jarring.
It was during the second part of the story that the action stops lulling as much and it gets really interesting to read and I found myself really wishing it didn’t end when it did. The storyline gets much more adrenaline-inducing and interesting to follow and the characters’ personalities really come out.
I do look forward to reading book 2 despite this version I’ve read so far only being “ok.” And I’m giving it a 3-star review because the last 35% of the book was good and I felt that it sort of made up for the first 65% of it being so slow if you can get through it. I want to read book 2 but I definitely think that it needs some serious work in the first 65% of the book.
Once the book is published, I intend to read it again to see if there were any edits made so I can update my review to be correct to the current version of the book.