Sunday, May 29, 2011

Review of Bloodline Rising by Katy Moran

Moran, Katy.  Bloodline Rising.  Candlewick Press, 2011.

In this sequel, Bloodline's hero Essa has left Britain with Lark to settle in Constantinople and is now the father of 12-year-old Cai, named for Essa's father.  Cai eschews the company of his family in favor of that of thieves and criminals; his penchant for thrills and his strange gift for moving about unseen and for influencing minds make him a master of the art.  After he runs afoul of the wrong person, he is captured by slavers and ends up in Britain, land of his parents - who have never told him anything about their lives there.

Those who have read Bloodline will know about the complex and constantly shifting alliances, feuds, and battles among the many small kingdoms in 7th century Britain, and Cai becomes embroiled in them from the moment he is claimed by his father's old friend Wulf. 

Much of the plot revolves around the enmity between various lords and kings, and I found it hard to keep track of it or even to care very much.  Much more interesting are Cai's thoughts and feelings, such as his discombobulation at finding himself, after a hideous and harrowing journey on a slave ship, in a primitive land, where no one takes baths or knows how to read or write, where the streets are lined with mud instead of stone, and where everyone sleeps in one big room together like a bunch of puppies.  Constantinople is a paradise of civilization in comparison. 

Cai misses his intense but loving father intensely, who he believes is dead and through Cai's fault to boot, and he just can't trust the affable, larger-than-life Wulf, whose motives don't always seem clear-cut.  Distrustful and fierce, Cai can't let his defenses down and so ends up being his own worst enemy.

I must say that I miss Essa myself, and would have been more than content to read about his (not exactly uneventful) life in Constantinople, with his naughty son Cai being only a peripheral character.  It's not that Cai is uninteresting, but I didn't ever completely cotton to him.  The potential was there, but his friendships with Edge and Cerny are not quite developed enough, and he just lacks a certain depth of character.  The short segment involving his journey aboard the slaver and the cook who befriends him stands out as the most vibrant part of the book.

Not that this isn't worth reading - it is.  It just didn't captivate me to the same extent that Bloodline (and young Essa) did.  If you loved Bloodline, give this one a try.  And if you didn't haven't read Bloodline, get thee to a library!

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