Jen reviews Grievar’s Blood, the sequel to Alexander Darwin‘s SPFBO 6 Finalist, The Combat Codes, the second book in The Combat Codes Saga.
Thank you to Alexander Darwin for the review copy in exchange of an honest review!
|Series: Combat Codes #2||Genre: fantasy/martial arts|
|Date of Publishing: January 28, 2020||Trigger Warnings: Martial arts violence, death, body|
|Page count: 340||Publisher: self-published|
In a world where single combat determines the fate of nations, the Grievar fight in the Circles so that the rest can remain at peace. But given the stakes, things are never so simple. The Daimyo govern from the shadows and plot to gain an edge by unnaturally enhancing their Grievar Knights.
Cego and his team enter year two at the world’s most prestigious combat school, the Lyceum. Though he’d like to focus on his martial studies, Cego feels the pull of his mysterious past and two missing brothers.
Solara Halberd, daughter of the fighting legend, embarks on her own quest to bury the past. She must utilize every lesson her father taught her to explore unknown lands where evil lurks in the shadows.
Memnon looked toward the north side of Central Square to see a hulking form approach. Two fully armed mech Enforcers guided the Goliath, each grasping a long steel rod attached to the thing’s arms to keep it at a distance.
Even the High Commander held his breath, looking at the Goliath. It was the largest Grievar Memnon had ever seen, if it could even be called a Grievar anymore.
As the Goliath entered the Circle at the foot of the Square’s amphitheater steps, it screamed, an unearthly bellow, displaying rows of sharpened teeth. Its veined muscles pulsed as it thrashed against the Enforcers’ restraints, forcing the mechs to dig their steel boots into the dirt.
‘Til I Collapse by Eminem (sometimes the song choice is easy)
Ok, wow, this series! I have said it before but second books really are the best showcases of a series for me. They can either elevate the story, or when a series takes place in a learning/institution kind of setting, it can stick to the tried and true and go the safe route, with a rehash of the first book’s formula.
I admit, I enjoyed the characters enough that I wasn’t even minding the possibility of more the same because The Combat Codes was just so much fun. But Grievar’s Blood went above and beyond my expectations, surprising me by taking a chance and going in a whole new direction. One that lets us really get to know the world they inhabit, and one that gave me a huge new reason to love this series, in the form of Solara – one of the whelps from Cego’s team.
The events from the end of the last book have hit Sol and Cego hard, both are dealing with the aftermath of that final battle, and the repercussions it brought to their lives and both character’s POVs have some surprising moments.
I really enjoyed Sol’s sections, seeing her grow as a character, overcoming obstacles and proving that labelled smart girl from book one, has more substance than we had a chance to see. Her friendship with Mauri was a massive highlight for me (I always say fantasy needs more women friendships) and I enjoyed learning more about the world through Sol’s parts of the story.
Cego, has quite a road ahead of him. Onto a new year school, Cego is feeling the absence of his mentor, while grappling (wink, wink) with the truths about his past. And to be as vague as possible, Cego’s story takes a side-turn that gives us a broader understanding of how their society works, and let me tell you, this was one plot turn that I didn’t expect at all. I loved that about it.
The Combat Codes Saga has been such a readable series and as I said in the first book, it has so much heart to it. I love the friendships. I love the lessons. I love the characters. And I can’t wait for the next book. What a great follow-up, Grievar’s Blood makes me want to jump right into the next book to see what new and interesting ways Alexander Darwin will take this story to its conclusion.