Valyruh’s #CBR4 Review #77 & 78: Bloodring and Host by Faith Hunter
There is such a flood of post-apocalyptic fantasy out there that I thought I’d take a look and see what all the fuss is about. I found Bloodring among the library freebies and thought the premise interesting and began to read. Unfortunately, I discovered too late that this is a trilogy and was only able to get access to the first and third books of the series. Nonetheless, I think between the two novels, Bloodring and Host, I gave the genre a fair shake and can honestly say that this is not my cup of tea.
Hunter can write fairly well and has a vivid imagination, to be sure. She also has the most mixed-up and confused plot I think I’ve ever come across. In a nutshell, the future earth has been subjected to a war of annihilation by a race of Seraphs (aka the High Host), who are either avenging angels conducting a purge of mankind on the authority of God or are aliens from another time and/or place, trying to take over the planet. It’s never quite clear. In the aftermath of the war, which has left the Earth in a new ice age, children were born with special gifts surfacing at puberty. These “mages,” seen initially as witches by human survivors, are confined to enclaves where they are licensed to practice their varied crafts in isolation from humans. Evil—in various and sundry forms—has been subdued temporarily, but is gaining strength and allies and threatening to burst anew upon the scene. The Seraphs continue to hover over everything, watching and keeping their distance….sort of.
The main protagonist of the trilogy is Thorn St. Croix, a stone mage with the unique ability to hear the thoughts of all other mages simultaneously. To protect her from going insane, her mentor smuggles her out of her childhood enclave and into a distant human town, where she works—unlicensed and therefore under threat of death if discovered—as a jeweler with a strange collection of partners who turn out to be only semi-human themselves. Thorn seems to be fated as the savior of everyone—and that includes humans, mages, and the High Host—and both novels boil down to a non-stop series of intense and terrifying battles of Thorn and her allies vs. evil spawn of every description, with a few connecting chapters that tend to center around Thorn going into heat (yes, heat, like an animal!) every time she’s around a Seraph or its ilk. Enough said.
The series is heavily overlaid with religious references, and at first I thought there was some profound philosophizing going on about heaven, hell and the existence of God, but by the time I had finished the second book, I had decided that author Hunter either thinks she is creating some new kind of post-apocalyptic fantasy genre for Christians, or she’s exploiting the Christian overtones for more commercial purposes. In either case, I think she needs to go back to the drawing board, strip out about 50% of the extraneous characters she peoples her novels with, and get a clearer handle on the message she is trying to send out to her readers. Because, let me tell you, this was one mighty confused reader by the end.