I'm so excited to be the 4th stop on this Blog Tour for Olivia Cornwell's new book, Empire of Blood! I'm the first review stop on the tour, and I'm excited to be sharing my thoughts on the book with you!
Check out the previous stops and the tour schedule here!
Empire of Blood
Release Date: November 10th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Lilly Faine is tired of classmates dissing her family, and doesn’t care when she receives suspension for nearly punching the lights out of a classmate. Her father isn’t crazy, even if he does spout stories about a world full of magic, a cruel king who hunted him, and has a shattered amulet that tingles when Lilly touches it.
When an old enemy appears under Chicago’s beloved Bean, Lilly and her brother Gabriel are shoved into the impossible world their father believed in. Alone on opposite ends of a war, they race to rescue each other. Lilly finds aid and friendship in a band of rebels, but she is also hunted by the emperor’s personal assassin. Gabriel gains the help of the emperor, but Gabriel’s choices to do good may lead him into dark shadows he can’t find his way out of.
Magic thrums within their reach, promising aid, and Lilly and Gabriel both must decide if the magic they seek–and the causes for which they now fight–is worth the risk of their souls.
First of all, I'm super excited to be part of the Blog Tour for Olivia's new book, Empire of Blood! It was a great read and I'm looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you!
The first line of the book is FANTASTIC and hilarious and sets the tone for the first parts of the book. Lilly is a no-nonsense girl who isn't afraid to stand up for herself and her family. The first few chapters are fast-paced and thrust you into the new world. The world building in the midst of the action was a little bit overwhelming, but overall, it set the scene for Lilly and Gabriel's new world well.
However, the overall world building was both rushed and not as comprehensive as I would have liked. There were a lot of places and people I had to try to keep straight. There were a lot of names I kept having to back and figure out where they came from, and a lot of just in general having to go back and clarify something. It made the reading a bit more tedious than I usually like. Despite that, all of the side characters on both Lilly and Gabriel's side of things were fun to read about. I mean, a female knight, come on now!
One aspect of the book I really enjoyed was how Olivia switched between Lilly and Gabriel's points of view. This really gave more of an insight into both the views and beliefs of the rebels and the emperor. It helps build the story and really makes it easy to sink into and understand why Lilly and Gabriel are thinking and behaving the way they do.
Some chapters were slower at the beginning, but they were necessary for setting the stories that both Lilly and Gabriel would find themselves in. I really enjoyed that Lilly and Gabriel found themselves on opposite sides of the war, both continually trying to get to the other and not be "useless" or "helpless" any longer. Both of them were trying to do the right thing, and going about it in different ways based on the parties they ended up with. It was refreshing and just really interesting to read about. It was also a great parallel to think about our own lives, and how there's always two sides to something and people on both sides always believe theirs is the ~right~ side.
Watching both Lilly and Gabriel grow in their respective camps was interesting, if a little forced at times. Lilly's fight training and Gabriel's magic training both felt sudden, and while they both might be "naturals" I was hoping for a little more build up and for them to somewhat struggle, I guess, rather than just master it basically straight off. I did enjoy the action and battle scenes, they were well developed and easy to follow.
The character development didn't really pick up for me personally until about three quarters through the book, but when it did, oh boy it did! I'm so excited to see more about Seiryu, Gabriel, Lilly, Tae, Mordir and the Annors. I can't wait to see what happens with them all next. Learning more about Tilas' past and the past between the rebels and the emperor's camp was intriguing, but gave me more questions than answers most times.
My chief complaint about the book was the simplicity and repetitiveness when describing characters actions. There were a lot of so and so smirked, so and so yelped, so and so did some other one word description. It made the writing kind of choppy at some places in my opinion, but it never really detracted from the story being told. It just was more of a personal, "that's kind of annoying" thing to me.
The magic system in this world was complicated yet made sense logically. I really enjoyed how the magic was described and developed throughout the book. Additionally, throwing in the concept of the Sevenths was interesting and really fun to read about!
Overall, while the book was a touch slower than I usually prefer, it was a fascinating read and I look forward to reading the next parts of Lilly and Gabriel's stories. If you're a fan of magic and adventure and familial bonds, definitely check this one out!
Again, thank you to Olivia and Favourite Pages Book Club for allowing me to be part of this awesome book tour!
Meet The Author
Olivia Cornwell is a storyteller with a love of dragons and magical worlds. She writes stories of hope and redemption and familial relationships, and far too many sarcastic characters. She writes to entertain her readers (and may or may not collect their tears along the way) and share the truth of her Creator. At least when she isn’t struggling to control her characters, drinking a lot of coffee, or hoarding chocolate.
She hides out in Ohio, and in her spare time Olivia cuddles her niece and nephews, and yowls back at her cat (who is most likely her familiar). She also enjoys adopting the characters from her friends’ novels and keeping them safe from their own dangers.
Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think of this one!
- Captain Jess