Series: Blood and Gold #1
Published by: Harlequin Enterprises
ISBN 13: 9781743569115
Published: November 2014
Format reviewed: Paperback
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended
Related Reviews: Sisters of the Fire (Blood and Gold #2)
This series really starts with ‘Crown of Rowan: A Tale of Thyrsland‘, which can be found in Legends of Australian Fantasy anthology, edited by Jack Dann, and the first place I found this world. At that stage I had no idea there was talk of there being more though I dearly wished for it at the time – reading in a tucked away cafe somewhere in Adelaide mall, having picked up the anthology due to its gorgeous colours and the excellent list of authors who I was so very new at discovering at the time… But anyway. You don’t need to read that short before diving into this series even though you really should, because it’s an excellent anthology.
In this series we’re introduced to three close sisters, Bluebell, Ash and Rose (and two other sisters who have been raised elsewhere, Ivy and Willow, both of which make you want to tear your hair out but they’re incredibly important also.)
Bluebell is a fighter, raised to someday take the crown from their father and rule the land. She’s fierce and known throughout the kingdom and beyond for her abilities, though she has her failings, too. She’s quick to anger and reaction, and she values family above all else even when it blinds her.
Ash has a gift, and this gift takes her across the land in many different directions to the aid of her family and herself. Her powers are strong even for what they’re known among others who have similar abilities, to the point where it leads them to fear her. Ash is probably the kindest and most thoughtful of the sisters, as…
Rose is the one with the most feeling. Married off to assure peace between two nations, she instead loves another and this causes no end of trouble for herself and those she loves. Rose reacts like Bluebell in a lot of ways, with less violence maybe but with no less impact on those around her.
I speak about these three to such a degree because they’re so marvelous. It’s so rare to see a book with so many excellent female characters, to the point where it’s impossible to pick your favourite (only knowing that it certainly won’t be Ivy). Ivy and Willow are much younger sisters – one who can only think about boys, and one who is obsessed with a new faith which is edging its way into a world that trust in the Horse God and other ways of living. Throw in a desperate woman and her son, and a rival to Bluebell who has lost half his face to her axe, and you have a plot that’s almost too big to seal within almost 500 pages yet manages it beautifully. At no stage is there a dull moment yet it all remains easy to follow and believable. They cross the land criss-crossing back and forth many times as they have no end of trouble for both themselves and their kingdom.
What we have here is a masterful telling of magic, family, treason, heartbreak, devastation and a cracking good read. This was one of my highest favourite books read in 2014 when it first came out. I can’t recommend it highly enough.