Timy is reviewing We Cry for Blood, the third book in Devin Madson‘s Epic Fantasy series, The Reborn Empire, out now by Orbit. Check out the reviews of the previous books in the series, We Ride the Storm and We Lie with Death.
An ARC copy was provided via Netgalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
|Series: The Reborn Empire #3
|Genre: Epic Fantasy
|Date of Publishing: August 5, 2021
|Trigger Warnings: death, violence
|Page count: 624
The empire has fallen and another rises in its place in the action-packed continuation of Devin Madson’s sweeping epic fantasy quartet.
Ambition and schemes have left the Kisian Empire in ashes. Empress Miko Ts’ai will have to move fast if she hopes to secure a foothold in its ruins. However, the line between enemies and allies may not be as clear-cut as they first appeared.
After failing to win back his Swords, former Captain Rah e’Torin finds shelter among the Levanti deserters. But his presence in the camp threatens to fracture the group, putting him on a collision course with their enigmatic leader.
Assassin Cassandra Marius knows Leo Villius’s secret-one that could thwart his ambitions to conquer Kisia. But her time in Empress Hana’s body is running out and each attempt they make to exploit Leo’s weakness may be playing into his plans.
And, as Leo’s control over the Levanti emperor grows, Dishiva is caught in his web. To successfully challenge him, she’ll have to decide how many of her people are worth sacrificing in order to win.
“It was dark beyond the narrow window, somewhere between midnight and dawn. The house was quiet, not the quiet of peace, rather the quiet of whispers. Of alliances shifting and changing like windblown sands.”
Well, as I was going with Skillet for the previous books, I’ll keep to that tradition, though it’s getting harder to pick… It was a toss-up between Invincible and Feel Invincible, but eventually, I picked the latter.
Here we go again
I will not give in
I’ve got a reason to fight
Every day we choose
We might win or lose
This is the dangerous life
Oh man, I’ve been waiting so long for We Cry for Blood, the third book in Devin Madson’s Epic Fantasy series, The Reborn Empire. So. Damn. Long. And as with the previous books, I was lucky enough to get my hands on an ARC copy, and I can tell you with full confidence, that it was worth all the waiting. The series keeps going strong and I’m pretty sure the finale will blow all of our minds. Now, since this is the third book in a series, I’ll try to keep spoiling the story so far to a minimum, but if you haven’t read the first two books yet (what the hell are you waiting for?!) please proceed with caution. I will also try to be as vague as I can be, but let me tell you, reviewing a book in the middle of a series is just another way of torture. There are so many things I want to talk about, but can’t, because, well, I’d have to kill you and we really don’t want to get into a bloodbath, now do we? I just cleaned out the basement after all… Anyway.
In this installment of The Reborn Empire series, we have all the well-known characters and then some new ones who don’t play any important parts. Yet. But I have a feeling about one in particular, who I hope to see in We Dream of Gods. I mean, it should tell you something about Madson‘s writing when you just fell in love with a character who has like, 2-3 scenes. Then again, knowing all the shenanigans Madson is pulling, it wouldn’t be surprising if this character turned out to be someone unexpected. Well, we shall see. Madson is definitely known not to hold back when it comes to punches and We Cry for Blood definitely didn’t disappoint in that regard.
As for the main cast, Miko, Cassandra, Dishiva and Rah’s storyline picks up where they were left off at the end of We Lie With Death. Miko is trying everything to earn the power of a ruler and to unite Kisia, Cassandra is fighting to survive and to get answers to her problems, Dishiva (who had firmly become my favorite POV) is falling deeper into Leo’s web of lies, while Rah is being stubborn as ever and dreams of a better Levanti future.
There is a *lot* going on, which is not surprising with 4 POV characters who either barely cross each others’ paths or not at all, thus they are all having their more or less distant storylines – which of course are intertwining, even if the characters themselves don’t quite know it yet. All of it packed into a 600+ pages long book. If you followed the series this far, then you have a pretty good idea what to expect from it: death, backstabbery, political games, lies upon lies, agendas clashing with each other, ideals fighting ideals, and a touch of supernatural just to make it more interesting.
The stakes are getting higher with each book and each of the main characters have their own arcs for better or worse. We Cry for Blood deals with themes of self-sacrifice, loyalty, making the right choice even if that’s the harder path but also showing that being right is relative. While one tends to side with the main characters, it also sometimes makes you stop and think about which side might have the right of things. The clash of the Kisian and Levanti cultures also keeps providing a rich background to the events. While Miko has to fight for every bit of respect from the Kisian society, and especially the men, the Levanti has a more “democratic” approach where one is respected based on their qualities and skills rather than everything else.
One thing I kept struggling with – and that’s more to do with my short attention span these days – was that I sometimes found it hard to keep people and events straight in my mind. Especially the Kisian characters and their agendas that gave me trouble. But this is just a very minor quibble on my part. There is a lot going on and when I felt like getting a bit bored by the slower pace at places, then there was something happening that kept me interested throughout. I mostly wanted to know whether I was right about one particular plot twist toward the end, and indeed I was.
If you are hoping to get answers, well, you won’t just yet, but we are getting there. There are some revelations and twists you’ll never see coming, and you might even scream at Madson for some of the choices she made – I know I did. We Cry for Blood is an excellent installment in this richly layered, character-driven and all-around gut-punching series. If the ending of We Cry for Blood is anything to go by, We Dream of Gods will be one hell of a ride to bring the series to an end. And I can’t wait to be along for the ride.