Novel: Dark Legion (Blood of blood #1) by Paul Kleynhans
Published: July 29th 2014 by Insomnia
Rating: 4/5 stars
I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exhange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: Saul and his allies plot to steal the crown of Ubrain from the Emperor’s vault. In the crown, he sees the means to unify his enslaved people and bring them to freedom. But their road is not a straight one, and they soon find themselves facing the Inquisition, and are caught in the middle of an unseen war as older powers work to twist the world to their own design. Saul has never been one to set easy tasks for himself, but he is determined to break the Empire’s grip on his people, no matter how much blood must be spilled along the way. They should have killed him when they had the chance, for he will not be so lenient.
I want to start by stating that I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. I don’t really know why. When I first started reading, I was surprised to see this book is written in first person. I just had a look around my shelves and noticed that while the YA fantasy books are sometimes/often written in first person, the adult fantasy book are almost all written in third person? That’s really interesting to me, maybe I’ll write a post on that soon. Anyway, this is an adult fantasy I’d say, written in first person.
First of all, I want to say that I very much liked the different kingdoms (well, previous kingdoms) and their different climate. For example, the main character Saul comes from Ubrain. From the novel, you can gather that the people are darker-skinned there, there is a lot of sun and a desert-like climate. He frequently mentioned the warmth, the fact that his people are always looking for water sources and so on. So that’s really interesting!
However, I have to admit that this aspect of the novel was lacking a bit, in my opinion. I would’ve really enjoyed a map, for example. And more description of the different places, where they are, their climate and people and so on. But especially a map. Maybe I didn’t pay enough attention, but I can’t really picture how the major cities are placed: Morwynne, Castralava, Sagemont… I don’t know how they relate to each other.
This was my favorite aspect I think. I didn’t expect to be so intrigued by the story. So the main line throughout the story is that Saul is looking to free his people, the citizens of Ubrain, from the emperor. His people were enslaved when the empire conquered Ubrain, and he wants to right that wrong. To do so, he must first find two artifacts that the royal house of Ubrain has to wear/use to be considered as the rightful king.
So this story is certainly captivating. I wanted to keep reading, even though I was supposed to be studying. I was intrigued, and wanted to find out how Saul would end up. Would he achieve what he set out to do? If so, how? Those are the kind of questions that kept going through my head. When I put it down, I found myself thinking: “where will this story go from here?”.
I found the story to be interesting, because Saul didn’t really go about freeing his people in the way you think he would? He has very unique methods to get where he wants. I mean: ale? Never would’ve thought of that. I highly enjoyed that part.
I do have to admit that at times, I found certain things to be a bit too convenient? Mostly, everything that has to do with Malakai, the character. I don’t know what purpose he serves really, other than helping the characters get where they need to be… Maybe that’ll be clearer in the second book?
By the way, I loved that some words in this book were (I believe) South-African! The author is from South-Africa, and he mentions an ale called “oud bruin”, which means “old brown” in Dutch (and I assume South-African). And there was Oos (which is very close to Oost, the Dutch word for East). I find it interesting he incorporated his language in these little ways!
Lastly, I found it a bit hard to deduce how much time had passed at certain points? For example, it takes him a year to achieve a certain part of the plan, but when I was reading it felt more like days? I barely realized a year had passed already…
So, let’s take a look at Saul. He’s very much a grey character. And no, I don’t mean that he’s dull. During the entire book, it’s hard to figure out whether he’s actually a good person or not. It seems to be a “the end justifies the means” situation. It’s very interesting, and it leads to me not knowing how I feel about him. I’m sympathetic towards him, because of everything he went through. But then he made decisions, which he KNEW were horrible. But he went through with them anyway. It’s a very interesting situation really.
I do have one question. I don’t understand WHY the emperor Solas would choose to train Saul, who he turned into a slave, as a torturer and assassin. In my opinion, he is the LAST PERSON I would train that way. Because of his heritage. I just don’t get it?
Then there are other characters such as Marcus. I can’t really say much, but I feel like I didn’t get a chance to truly know the person. A certain situation prevented me from seeing what was really him, and what wasn’t. I can’t really explain more, because I feel like it’s a spoiler? But just read this! And Neysa, who I liked but feel like I don’t really know.
I highly enjoyed this book. Like I said, the plot really captivated me. I liked the fact that the main character was neither a hero nor a villain. I would recommend this book if you like fantasy, because it’s a fun read. I do have some questions about the timeline of the story, and the world building. I do think I’ll read the second book, to find out how the story ends.