Blood Metal Bone is set on the distant world of Dohrsar, where the land is split into three rival kingdoms, where vicious kings and queens rule with iron will and murder. It’s here that we meet Sonara, the bastard daughter of Iridis the queen of Soreia. Looked down on with scorn by her mother, Sonara is forced to live and work in the stables, her only friend her older brother, the prince, Soahm. Despite her unhappy life she accepts her place in the world, and finds enjoyment where she can, but when a huge metal ship descends from the heavens and takes her brother in a beam of light the queen blames Sonara for his disappearance.
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Sentenced to death, Sonara is tortured and whipped before being thrown from a cliff to her death However, for some on Dohrsar death is not the end, and Sonara is brought back to life as a Shadowblood, a warrior with a magical power and darkness flowing in her veins. Now wandering the Deadlands, she and other Shadowbloods have come together to form their own small mercenary band. When they get hired for a job my another Shadowblood and her masked companion Sonara little suspects she’s setting out on a path that will decide the fate of the whole planet.
Going into Blood Meta Bone I was expecting a pure fantasy story, one where the magics of the Shadowbloods and the warring kingdoms would be the focus. And whilst this is mostly true, and this is a book that deals with themes of magic, destiny, and mystical forces, it’s also got a dash of science fiction thrown into the mix too, which really makes it stand out. It turns out that Dohrsar is just one of many worlds in the galaxy, and that humans have an interest in it for their own gains, putting those who live there at risk. This is what the book is really about, and in a lot of ways mirrors historical colonialism, of a more technologically advanced force coming to a land because they want the resources, and willing to kill those who live there to get it.
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At first glance the book is simply a fantasy story, but once you start to get deeper into it it’s clear that there’s a lot more going on here, and the book deals with heavy subjects, as well as blending together two normally incompatible genres in a way that never feels forced or out of place. Lindsay Cummings manages to craft some amazing scenes where you’ve got warriors with swords attacking a spaceship whilst riding a dragon, and what’s not to love about that?
There’s a great mixture of characters too, with the team around Sonara being an interesting mix, all of whom I’d love to spend more time reading about. The fact that they’re not a perfect team, and that some of them get on each other’s nerves, argue, and sometimes even need to manipulate each other, makes them all the more realistic. Rather than a perfect band of heroes they feel like a group of people thrown together and making the best of things, people who see each other as family, but probably wouldn’t be friends if they had much of a choice in the matter.
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Whilst I really enjoyed the book there’s one thing that brought it down for me: the length. The book clocks in at just shy of 400 pages, and it really didn’t feel like enough. We get to know Sonara pretty well, but none of the other characters really get as much of a focus; the same with the world of Dohrsar, we hear about some of the other kingdoms and peoples, but never really know much about it. The book felt light on detail in places, and I wanted to spend more time getting to know the characters, and can’t help but feel another hundred pages would have helped with my enjoyment of it.
Despite that one small complaint, the book was a really entertaining read, one that did a lot with the time it had, and created a world and characters that I wanted to read more of. I don’t know if Cummings plans on writing more books set on Dohrsar, but I really hope she does, as I’d love to find out what happens next.
Blood Metal Bone is out on 7th January from HQ Young Adult.