Book Review - BLOOD OF HEIRS by Alicia Wanstall-Burke

(Title: Blood of Heirs / Author: Alicia Wanstall-Burke / Publisher: Self-Published / Publication Date: October 27, 2018)

There are certain books that you just know within the first 25 pages are going to be simply amazing.  I could tell right away just from Alicia Wanstall-Burke's writing style that I was going to enjoy BLOOD OF HEIRS.  Then I was introduced to two incredibly special characters, both with their own unique story line and I was absolutely hooked.  The action in BLOOD OF HEIRS, the first book of The Coraidic Sagas, mainly takes place in two countries. 

Hummel is the first, where Lidan is heir to be chief of her father's clan if only by default since his multiple wives have not been able to provide a male heir.  That could change very soon however.  Orthia is the other city where Ran is a commander stationed with his troops guarding the mountain pass that separates his homeland from their bitter enemy the Woaden Empire.  We join his story as the Woaden are making serious inroads in an attempted invasion that is taking all of the Orthian troops' efforts to hold back.  The book alternates between these two main stories and does so very effectively in my opinion.  They are also independent of each other but one has a sense that at some point in the future, they will eventually converge.  

Lidan is a conflicted character as all she really wants to do is ride horses and become a Ranger protecting her clan and home like her father.  Her mother Sellan has other plans however, and goes to great lengths to see to it that Lidan is protected in order that she ascend to the position of power that is her birthright.  Sellan is often brutal with her daughter and their relationship is one that can only be described as turbulent at best.  Things are further thrown into flux when one of the wives of Lidan's father becomes pregnant.  If the child is a boy it could threaten Lidan's place as the next clan leader and complicate her position with the clan.  But before that can happen, something unthinkable occurs and Lidan is thrust at the forefront of a threat that neither she or her family could ever foresee.  

At the Orthian front, Ran's forces are being pummeled into a retreat by the invading Woaden horde.  The arrows that rain down onto the attacking army are being dissolved in midair before they can even reach their targets, and the battle seems to be tilting in the direction of the enemy.  It soon becomes evident that the Woaden have enlisted the aid of a powerful mage who cuts a violent path through the Orthian troops and directly toward Ran himself.  In his attempt to fight back the mage's advances, Ran conjures a magic of his own that he did not know he possessed and kills the Woaden mage in an explosion of sorcery.  When he returns to his home his father questions him on how he could kill such a powerful mage by himself and he is forced to reveal that he indeed did use magic to do so.  

As the Orthians are extremely superstitious of magic and it is strictly against their laws to practice, Ran's own father imprisons him in a dungeon.  There he awaits the swift and decisive judgment that are sure to result from his actions.  Ran's only hope is to escape somehow and flee before he can be executed.  Could his newly-found magic be a tool to help him achieve this?  What future lies ahead for Orthia if the Woaden invade again, this time with even more mages leading the charge and ones armed with even more devastating powers?  Ran is torn between his loyalty to his homeland and protecting his own neck as he faces certain death for his unspeakable crime of performing forbidden magic.   

BLOOD OF HEIRS is a book that just floored me from the start and then had me obsessively burying my face into every free reading moment that I had.  These are the types of books that make me thankful to be a reviewer because I get to be exposed to new independent authors who write amazing stories like this one.  For one thing, the battles are extremely bloody and merciless.  Alicia Wanstall-Burke goes into great detail with every arrow launched, every sword thrusted, and every fireball conjured.  I was really impressed with the way in which she makes you feel as if you are directly in the middle of the action, reflexively ducking to dodge that incoming enemy hammer smash.  The world-building was so unique in that the two main locations where the story takes place couldn't be more different and yet the characters faced very similar personal issues.  

Hummel, where Lidan's clan lives, is a very late Stone Age and pre-Bronze Age type of society where weapons are quite crude and basic.  Ran's country of Orthia on the other hand, employs much more advanced weapons and is more of a medieval type of society as far as technology and social structure goes.  Yet as I said, both characters face issues within their respective families that force them to make incredibly difficult choices.  So both in a way are very similar even though they come from totally different backgrounds and places in the world.  This is where I thought the true brilliance of this book came through.  Virtually anyone can relate to the theme of two people who appear very different at first glance, but in reality are much more similar when you get right down to it.

I really loved this book on so many levels and the characters just served to raise this story to another level as we see them put in terrible situation after terrible situation.  Yet I always felt like they would persevere no matter what the odds were.  One thing I will say is this is a very dark book and by no means a light read.  Be prepared for violence aplenty, crude language, and some villainous characters who literally have no redeeming qualities at all.  That being said, it is a book that I absolutely devoured in a short period of time and felt sad when I came to the final page.  

The only consolation I can take away is that I know that we are not done with this story and that Alicia Wanstall-Burke has much more to tell in future books.  This is a series that has so many more questions that I need answered and I cannot wait until the next book comes out.  In closing I just want to say that if you are looking for a really action-packed fantasy book with incredible magic and world building, then look no further than BLOOD OF HEIRS.  You will find much to enjoy in this beautifully-written story.  Alicia Wanstall-Burke is definitely a new author to watch.  Get this debut book now, because it's a cracking good read!

(My Rating: 9.5/10)


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