Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Review - Blood Magic (The Ballad of Kirin Widowmaker, Book 1) by Matthew Cook (4/5 stars)

This is the first book in the Kirin Windomaker series.  This was planned as a trilogy and the second book in the series Nights of Sin was released in 2008, but I have yet to see any information on the last book in the series.  This was a good book, overall I enjoyed it although it is pretty dark in tone.

Kirin is a necromancer and regularly uses her magic to raise the dead as her "sweetlings" which are grotesque but powerful creatures that defend her.  She is a scout in the army and is helping defend the human population against the powerful and deadly Mor, a race of non-humans hell-bent on destroying humanity.  This book is a solid fantasy setting, in a dark and war-ravaged world.

Kirin is a character with a serious set of issues.  Her motherly love for the monsters she calls back from the dead is a bit disturbing at times, as is her sexual lust when she is bathed in her enemies blood.  Overall though she is a complicated and conflicted character that you can't help but feel sorry for at times.  Kirin is neither good nor evil but walks a grey line somewhere between the two.

The chapters alternate between the current time where Kirin is helping the fight against the Mor and past time, showing how Kirin became to be who she now is and how she learned her dark art.

There is a lot of blood and a lot of war in this book.  Overall it was well done and engaging.  I enjoyed learning about Kirin's history and about how she got to be the conflicted necromancer that she ends up as.  Cook's writing style is very readable, if a bit dark and serious for me at times.  This is not an uplifting book, it is dark and full of human misery.

The only ray of light comes in the form of Lia, a lightening mage who ends up accompanying Kirin in her fight against the Mor.  The book ends at a decent point, but not much is resolved showing that this definitely continues on into another book. 

I enjoyed the book and characters enough the I am interested in reading Nights of Sin.  This is an intriguing, if dismal, world and you can't help but want to know more about these wretched characters and find out why the Mor are after them.  If you like fantasy with a kind of urban fantasy flare to it this book should appeal to you.  I enjoyed the way Cook dealt with necromancy and the questions behind whether or not it is good or evil.

This book goes towards the following reading challenge:
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge
Blood Magic: Book One Of The Ballad Of Kirin Widowmaker (Bk. 1) 

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