I have a Booktube channel now! Subscribe here: https://www.youtube.com/petrikleo
Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Grievar’s Blood by Alexander Darwin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
eries: The Combat Codes Saga (Book #2 of 3)
Genre: Science fiction, Dystopia, Martial Arts
Pages: 340 pages (Kindle edition)
Published: 28th January 2020 by Insight Forge Press (Self-published)
Grievar’s Blood is a daring sequel to The Combat Codes. The cast is bigger and the stakes are higher than before.
“Don’t run from it,” Cego said. “I’ve done that. I think I’ve been doing that my entire life. Running away from my past, trying to escape. And I know now that path only leads deeper into the darkness.” “So, what then?” Sol asked. “If we can’t get away from it, what can we do?” “Embrace it,” Cego said. “Welcome the weight of your past. Don’t run from it. Stand in front of it and let it flow through you. Let it make you stronger. Sometimes, we need to hurt ourselves to kill the demons. Sometimes, we need to feel the pain, every darkin’ bit of it, raw as it comes, before we can pick ourselves up again.”
The story in Grievar’s Blood takes place about two years since The Combat Codes started. Cego would love to focus on his study of martial arts, but the revelations about his mysterious past that he found at the end of the first book distract his concentration. However, Cego isn’t the only main focus character now; two new main POV characters are included here, Solara Halberd and The Slayer. I honestly didn’t expect the direction of the narrative in Grievar’s Blood; Darwin has taken a risk with his storytelling decision.
Instead of focusing the narrative exclusively on Cego like in the first book, Darwin decided to made Solara and The Slayer receive equal moments of the spotlight as Cego did. This could’ve easily backfired, and I’m sure it DID backfire for many readers who solely want Cego and Murray as the key characters. This has happened to Tower Lord and Queen of Fire (shudders) by Anthony Ryan, and for a while, I did worry that Grievar’s Blood would encounter the same issue because I DO want to read more of Cego after spending an entire book with him. Thankfully, my worries were unfounded.
“Thoughts constantly barraging the mind are like thieves entering a home. First, a Grievar must learn to recognize the thieves upon entry, see them for their true nature. Second, a Grievar must accept the thieves within their home, the intruders have arrived and there is nothing to do. Finally, a Grievar must show the thieves that their home is empty, there is nothing to steal within.”
There were indeed moments where I thought to myself, “Solara’s story seems to be unnecessary” or “Is Cego’s story being put on the bench now?” because Cego’s POV didn’t appear in the final 35% of the book. But Darwin has done a terrific job in connecting all three storylines together, and by the end of it, he has successfully transformed the small scope story established in The Combat Codes into a larger-scope narrative about freedom, justice, and revenge. There’s an emphasis on politics and world-building, and we get to learn more about the Daimyo. This indeed made the action scenes relatively fewer in quantity, but they’re certainly not lacking in quality. Duels felt more impactful in Grievar’s Blood, and the trial scene plus its result were my favorite scenes in the book.
“Practice a technique once and you’ll know what it looks like. Practice it a hundred times and you’ll know what it feels like. Practice it one thousand times and you’ll hit it on a lesser-skilled opponent. Practice it five thousand times and you’ll hit it on an opponent of equal skill.”
Overall, Grievar’s Blood is a great middle-installment. Darwin has raised the tension and scope of the series without losing the entertaining factor of the series. I couldn’t put the final 15% of the book down, every storyline converged at the end, and now I’m eagerly looking forward to reading the conclusion of the series that will also come out within this year.
Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!
My Patrons: Alfred, Alya, Annabeth, Ben, Blaise, Devin, Diana, Edward, Hamad, Helen, Jimmy Nutts, Joie, Lufi, Melinda, Mike, Miracle, Nicholas, Seth, Shaad, Summer, Zoe.