Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Dylan’s life in the spellster tower has everything he should want: magical knowledge, safety from the King’s Hounds and frequent clandestine affairs with women. All at the cost of his freedom. So when the chance to leave the tower—even as a leashed weapon for the King’s Army—arises, he seizes it.
When his first scouting mission goes awry, Dylan is left alone in a hostile world with the tower a distant beacon of safety. Only the flirtatious Tracker, an elven man whose very presence awakens Dylan’s long-repressed desire, can help him return to his old life before the crown discovers his unleashed status.
But the risk of being branded a deserter may be the least of his concerns as whispers of an armed presence in the North threatens his home. Dylan must rely on Tracker to protect him even as everything he thought he knew begins to unravel around them.
“In Pain and Blood” is a mix of epic high fantasy and romance. I mostly picked the book for its gorgeous cover but found the content to be quite enjoyable as well.
It’s a very long book and that’s something I’ve always liked about books. That does mean things are a bit slow to get started. Tracker doesn’t even show up for the first 20% or so. For a while, I wasn’t sure if I’d misread the blurb and this was actually a m/f romance. I never read the blurb right before I start a book. There’s also at least one rather explicit scene between him and a woman. Personally, I don’t mind that but I know some people really dislike this.
Dylan is a bit on the naive side. He’s had sex with quite a few women but he’s never been in love before. And he’s never been with a man before either. He’s also naive in pretty much every other aspect of life. He’s spent his entire life locked away in a tower and was only allowed out in the gardens. At times, he also seemed a bit dumb, tbh. He was a bit annoying at times.
I liked the world this book was set in. Dylan’s country has been at war with its neighbour for decades, if not centuries. Spellsters (magicians) like Dylan have to spend their life in a huge tower. The only way for them to ever be allowed to leave is with a magic-suppressing collar to fight in the army. This way, they’re only able to use magic when their commander gives them permission. Otherwise the collar won’t let them.
In the neighbouring country, the spellsters are allowed to run rogue. I was never quite sure which side was worse. The enemies are slave owners but are Dylan’s people really that much better? The spellsters definitely aren’t free. I love it when there’s no clear good or evil.
The story could have used another round of editing. There was the occasional spelling mistake and a tiny plot hole or two. Nothing too horrible or glaringly obvious but definitely there.
Overall, I quite enjoyed “In Pain and Blood”. It’s not an easy read and definitely not a quick one either. But it’s definitely worth its time, even if I did have some minor issues with it. I’m definitely interested in the next part and will need to check out the author’s other books in the meantime.
If you’re into good fantasy mixed with a solid love story and don’t mind a longer read, then go for it. If you’re looking for something quick and easy, however, you’d better keep looking.
The cover is really pretty. It’s actually quite simple when you take a closer look but it fits the story perfectly. Dylan sure likes his lightning.
Buy Links ~ Available on KU
Book details: Kindle Edition, 867 pages
Published December 15th 2017 by Thardrandian Publications