Bloodstone, by Gillian Philip

Series: Rebel Angels #2 | Format: Hardcover (US) | Published: November 19th 2013 | Publisher: Tor Books | Where I got it: Authors For Philippines auction (surprise extra!) | My rating: 5/5

For centuries, Sithe warriors Seth and Conal MacGregor have hunted for the Bloodstone demanded by their Queen. Homesick, and determined to protect their clan, they have also made secret forays across the Veil. One of these illicit crossings has violent consequences that will devastate both their close family, and their entire clan.

In the Otherworld, Jed Cameron, a feral, full-mortal young thief, becomes entangled with the strange and dangerous Finn MacAngus and her shadowy uncles. When he is dragged into the world of the Sithe, it’s nothing he can’t handle until time warps around him, and menacing forces reach out to threaten his infant brother. In the collision of two worlds, war and tragedy are inevitable, especially when treachery comes from the most shocking of quarters…

 

Where to begin, with this one…

Book Two of this series is not like the first – set centuries later, in a much more modern age, the world that Seth and Conal MacGregor live in is not their own. That much is made clear from the beginning, thanks to the bitingly blunt point of view of Seth, who (in terms of narration) had the first book all to himself – and what an impression he made. Here, however, he’s no longer the only one to focus on. The fates of Jed and Finn, both young and dangerously unaware of what lies around them (and in Finn’s case, within her), end up in Seth’s hands, and…

…And if you’ve read Firebrand, you’ll know how much of a typical hero Seth MacGregor is not. He’s wild, fascinating, unpredictable, not beyond redemption, but… Yeah. He’s not a very nice person. Or, in some cases, all that smart either. It leads to some pretty unpleasant consequences – which I’ll go into some more in a bit.

Let’s talk about that narrator switch-up for a minute. The author gives considerably less time in the spotlight to Seth in this book, flipping us between his familiar first-person POV and the third-person perspectives of Jed and Finn. This achieves the goal of telling us this part of the Rebel Angels story through the eyes of two people most directly affected by Seth’s actions throughout the book, and as new POV-characters go they’re almost as unforgettable as the man himself. Finn in particular was, for me, one to watch out for. I certainly, sincerely hope we haven’t seen the last of her, as she goes from a confused, deeply angry young girl, deliberately deceived about her own nature while she has to live in the otherworld (our world), to a young woman learning to live with everything that makes her different – and also, it seems, learning to let go of a lot of her anger. Finn reminded me of Seth’s younger self in certain parts of this book, and the nature of their relationship, how it grows from resentment and hate, was wonderfully (heartbreakingly) written.

Not that there isn’t plenty of trouble caused along the way. Seth makes what should by rights be an incredibly life-changing discovery in the course of this story, and his decisions following it are undoubtedly what shape the course of the rest of it – but hanging over all of that is a certain amount of inevitability where one particular outcome is concerned…

I won’t, and indeed shouldn’t, spoil that with any more detail, but Seth’s choices, and the consequences of them, left me both furious and reaching for tissues, by turns. God, but he can be a hard-headed bastard! On the other hand, and this is perhaps key where Seth is concerned, he is not entirely hard-hearted. Seth can and does feel love, and fiercely so. This is where the tissues came in, but at one point it’s also where a certain amount of fierce support for his actions came in. Again, no spoilers, but if you happen to have read this, then I bet you know which scene I’m talking about…

He may know that his choices will (and do) earn him hatred, but Seth does none of what he does without what he feels are justifiable reasons. This is also important; it leaves a question mark hanging over his morality, and the way he’s written is nothing short of wonderful. As lovable (and despicable!) characters go, I’m incredibly hard-pressed to name one who has affected me as much as Seth MacGregor. He holds very few people in sincere respect, and loves even fewer, but those who earn these things, do so beyond a shadow of a doubt – even while he remains his mouthy and outwardly disrespectful self. His role in this story may be giving way now to those of others, but his choices and the consequences of them have undoubtedly left difficulties in their wake – and no doubt will continue to do so, as long as their writer continues to include him!

I certainly hope she does, I have to say. The door is wide open at this point for the story to be told from more points of view, and from the look of things it will be so – but while I’m eager to get new sides of the story, I’ve got an unshakeable soft spot in my heart for the original bastard bad boy. It’s not very often at all that I can declare so much love for a series when it’s only half over, but if I did otherwise here, I’d be lying.

If you like your fantasy full of character study and simply, beautifully written, then this is not to be missed.

“The flames were dying and the fire was cold; I felt the bite of frost, a breath of the winter beyond the walls, but I knew it was imagination; I knew it was all in my heart and soul.

I put out a hand for Branndair to lick. He waited a long reproachful moment before he finally shuffled to me, nudging his head under my hand. The ends of my fingers were numb; I raked them into his neck-fur, trying to absorb his warmth so I could feel them again. But no mortal creature could give that kind of life.

He laid his black head on my lap, mourning the loss of me.

‘Well, my only love,’ I said. ‘Will you come with me anyway?'”

 

2 thoughts on “Bloodstone, by Gillian Philip

  1. I love Seth as the narrator. His point of view is so much fun to read! I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of the series; I’m impressed at just how much fun I’m having, reading through everything!

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