Saturday, July 7, 2012

Review: Bloodline - Katy Moran

Bloodline by Katy Moran
Series: Bloodline #1
Genre: YA, historical fiction
Published on February 10, 2009
Published by Candlewick Press
Pages: 320
Read From: 6.30.12 - 6.30.12

Essa has spent his life on the roadways of Britain, traveling peacfully with his father, Cai, a bard. But these are the Dark Ages, and times are uncertain. When the pair arrives at a Wolf Folk settlement, Cai leaves Essa behind without explanation. Slowly, Essa grows rooted in village life, and the boy who was bound to no one finds himself forging deep allegiances. Still, Essa can't forget Cai or help wondering why his father abandoned him. 
Then the Wolf Folk's sworn enemy, King Penda of Mercia, threatens the settlement, and Essa finds himself thrust into the violent and cunning world of the tribal kings. With the help of unlikely friends, he goes on a desperate journey to avert disaster and save everyone he loves. A deadly battle is brewing, and Essa can influence the outcome in a way nobody understands - except, perhaps, his father.


Cover Blurb: The simplicity of it is nice, and I love the sunset colors. The shield and Celtic design clearly indicate what sort of story it is, and for someone like me who is always on the lookout for good Britannic stories, it’s attention-grabbing.

What I Liked: Essa is a good, strong protagonist whose anger at Cai is completely understandable. While Cai’s secretiveness and lack of communication with his son is later explained - and I can also understand Cai’s reasons - I still sympathized with Essa and understood his hurt. The main girl, Lark, is also a great character; she’s a true tomboy without an attitude, and very fitting for the time period. I also loved the brotherly relationship that forms between Essa and Wulf - two young men who are very much alike, but on opposite sides of the battlefield. In many ways, it reminded me of the friendship between Marcus and Esca in The Eagle of the Ninth. I’ve always been fond of setups like that.

What I Disliked: It came as an absolute surprise to me when Essa discovered he could make his spirit leave his body and occupy animals. The synopsis gives no hint about this mystical element, and when it happened, my immediate reaction was, “Okay, that’s just weird.” It took me a long time to decide how I felt about it. My concluding thought is Essa doesn’t do it very often, so it is something that can be ignored, but it’s still weird and takes just a tiny bit away from the story.

Believability: The Author did research. And she presents her Readers with a believable ancient Britain. The behavior, beliefs, and social customs were all accurate. The times that character speak negatively of Christianity felt like a realistic reaction for the time period, and not like the Author was trying to shove her own personal opinion down my throat through the voice of one of her characters. The battle scenes are also believable. Bloody and brutal.

Writing Style: Katy Moran’s writing approaches the same beautiful quality as Rosemary Sutcliff and Elizabeth Alder. She doesn’t quite reach Sutcliff’s masterful storytelling, but she comes bloody close. Her dialogue is appropriate for the time period and she shows an understanding of the Celtic pride. Her descriptions of the countryside possess the same appreciation Rosemary Sutcliff expresses; an appreciation that can only come from a Celt. Her battle scenes are easy to follow, and the Author does a very good job with tossing a few hints here and there about Essa’s past. She explains just enough to keep the Reader guessing. The story, also, doesn’t drag. It takes a few moments to establish Essa’s standing in the world, but then it leaps head-first into the action. The only thing that separates Katy Moran’s writing from Rosemary Sutcliff is her characters lack some of the depth Sutcliff’s do. Don’t get me wrong - Moran’s characters are good and not at all cardboard; they just aren’t Rosemary’s.

Content: Nothing. There are a lot of battle sequences, but the Author doesn’t go into unnecessary gory detail.

Conclusion: The twist the Author puts in the end came as a total surprise to me. And the ending battle is exciting and fast-paced. It’s a bit of a bittersweet ending, but for a story set in Ancient Britain, what else can one expect?

Recommended Audience: People who love Rosemary Sutcliff. Katy Moran isn’t quite as good, but the writing style and story choice is extremely similar, so they’d enjoy it. This is both a guy and girl read.

Others in This Series:
2)Bloodline Rising

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