Speculative Fiction Reviews, Interviews, Art and Whatever Else!
Medieval Britain is one of my favourite times and places in history to read about. Not the nobles or the royalty, but the villages and their inhabitants. I have a deep fondness for the wortwyf, who used herblore as a basis for healing the sick and tending to the people when modern medicine was in it's infancy; still snake oils and guess work. And this book is like a gold mine! I almost went and frolicked in my medicinal garden from the sheer pleasure all of the references to herb lore this book has. There is actually a warning at the front of the book not to try these at home, which amused me!
Blood Oath was an extraordinarily quick read for me. Start to end in one sitting and it went by as quick as a flash. There is such a blinding sense of urgency, one cacophony after the other; sorrow, fear, death, rabble mob of townspeople. It was impossible to put down. I was constantly reminded of how cosy my life is, I felt a bit guilty for being warm, safe.. and bathed! You can almost smell this novel from afar due to descriptiveness of the malodorous town and it's inhabitants.
Janna is the quintessential headstrong heroine. Extremely strong willed and fiery, her obstinate ways get her into trouble as her quickness to judge alienates the people trying to help her. Yet, the passion she feels toward her mysterious past and the romantic notions of what her future might hold, gives her the extra dimension needed to make her relatable. The regret she feels for her misdirected accusations, and that real sense of weariness over the events also makes her feel wholly human.
This was also a good little murder mystery. As Janna searches for her mother's killer, she examines the evidence, questions of the witnesses and the systematically discounts (and recounts!) suspects. Almost a medieval police procedural (without police)! I enjoyed her skewed deductions and frustrated conclusions.
I think my main gripe, was that the secondary characters were pretty paper thin. There were glimpses here and there of insight, but due to the frantic rate of events, there wasn't enough time for them to be fleshed out enough for them to come to life. Slowing down slightly might have allowed for fuller development, and not really taken away anything from that feeling of urgency used to it drive the plot.
The small romantic sideline was hindered by that lack of characterisation. I kept asking why? He wasn't given enough real flesh to make the titbit feel realistic. I hope it is explored with more depth in future novels and he is given more groundwork if it is.
In all Blood Oath was an enjoyable, faced paced medieval mystery that hit a majority of the right spots for me. I am looking forward to the rest of the series (I have Stolen Child in my hot little fingers right here! )! Janna's future looks like it's going to be one hell of an adventure!
(was this released once before in Australia quite a few years ago under a different name? I wanted to read it, but couldn't afford it at the time, so I read the first chapters huddled in between bookshelves in bookstore.. something to do with rosemary? It certainly rings a bell at any rate..)