Saturday 17 April 2021

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Review: The Bloodprint by Ausma Zehanat Khan

The Bloodprint by Ausma Zehanat Khan

The Bloodprint by Ausma Zehanat Khan

Published: 19th October 2017 | Publisher: HarperVoyager | Source: Blogger book swap
Ausma Zehanat Khan's Website

A dark power called the Talisman has risen in the land, born of ignorance and persecution. Led by a man known only known as the One-eyed Preacher, it is a cruel and terrifying movement bent on world domination—a superstitious patriarchy that suppresses knowledge and subjugates women. And it is growing.

But there are those who fight the Talisman's spread, including the Companions of Hira, a diverse group of influential women whose power derives from the Claim—the magic inherent in the words of a sacred scripture. Foremost among them is Arian and her apprentice, Sinnia, skilled warriors who are knowledgeable in the Claim. This daring pair have long stalked Talisman slave-chains, searching for clues and weapons to help them battle their enemy’s oppressive ways. Now, they may have discovered a miraculous symbol of hope that can destroy the One-eyed Preacher and his fervid followers: The Bloodprint, a dangerous text the Talisman has tried to erase from the world.

Finding a copy of The Bloodprint promises to be their most dangerous undertaking yet, an arduous journey that will lead them deep into Talisman territory. Though they will be helped by allies—a loyal ex-slave and Arian’s former confidante and sword master—both Arian and Sinnia know that this mission may well be their last.
The StoryGraph

I received this proof in a book swap with a fellow blogger.

The Bloodprint by Ausma Zehanat Khan is a high fantasy I've had my eye on for quite a while now, and now I'm on a high fantasy kick, I've finally picked it up. While I found some aspects of the story confusing, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Bloodprint is set in a world that has been taken over by the Talisman, followers of the One-Eyed Preacher who has twisted the Claim, the scriptures of the One, to suit his views. Women are subjugated and controlled by their fathers and husbands, and those without are captured by the Talisman's slave chains. Arian is the First Oralist of the Council of Hira, strong in the Claim, and a trained warrior. She has spent the last ten years chasing down slave chains and rescuing the women, killing their Talisman guards, in an attempt to find her sister, who was abducted when their parents were murdered, when Arian was a child. But now Arian has been set a task by the High Companion; rumours have been cropping up that the Bloodprint, a sacred magical text thought to be legendary, is real. It's the Companions of Hira's only hope in opposing the One-Eyed Preacher. Along with fellow Companion Sinnia and a young slave boy they freed, Wafa, Arain follows the rumours on the hunt for the Bloodprint, the journey leading to more revelations and other dangers, and questions about the High Companion's motives.

The Bloodprint dives in right from the very beginning, as Arian and Sinnia are about to attempt a rescue on a slave chain. I was completely fascinated by the world, though it enraged me, and fell in love with Arian and her quest pretty early on the mystery surrounding the search for the Bloodprint, as well as what is learnt and discovered along the way. However, there isn't much in the way of background with the world building. The world has existed under the rule of the One-Eyed Preacher for quite a while now, with the Council of Hira trying to oppose his rule. But I have no real idea who the Talisman are, other than people who were swayed by the One-Eyed Preacher’s interpretation of the Claim, where women must be subjugated, all writing destroyed, and reading not taught. Their history and that of the Preacher are unknown. I don't know where he sprung up from, why people listened to him, and how he was able to sway people. Equally, I don't know a huge amount about the Council of Hira. They're a religious order of women, known as Companions, who have an aptitude with the Claim, each with a different gift or speciality. There's no real history to the Council either; I've no idea how or why they formed, or when. we only know that they’re against the Talisman. The Companions are given Audacies - a task to help in the fight against the Talisman, but other than Arian, we never know what anyone else's Audacies are. Though we know what certain other Companions specialities are, we don't really know what they do. Honestly, the Council of Hira and the Talisman are a bit of a mystery to me.

Then there's the Claim itself. The Claim is scripture, but more than that, it's also magic that works through the spoken word of those with aptitude. They recite certain verses, the Claim building in their throats and released with their words; different verses have different effects. I thought this was so cool, and not like anything I've read before. We've all heard of "magic words," but this is different, especially with the words being scripture. Sometimes you it was easy to see what specific verses would do, because of their subject matter, but not always. We're never told Arian's plans before she starts speaking, so we don't know what her intentions are until we see the effects. However, not all effects match up to Arian's intentions, so it was great to see Arian's moral dilemma at times. Was the Claim actually a power for good? The sacred text, the Bloodprint, is the Claim written down, but books are few and far between, burned by the Talisman, books and reading illegal. But with effects of the Claim being surprising, Arian starts to question the Bloodprint, too. If she's able to find it, what will it lead to, if the Claim is questionable. And what are the High Companion's real intentions? There are things she's held back, information she's not revealed, it's only when Arian stumbles across certain things that she realises the High Companion knew of them. Why wasn't she fully informed and prepared for what her task was to entail?

I loved the journey and the quest itself, which I can't really talk too much about without giving away spoilers. It felt similar to plots I've seen before that I don't normally enjoy; where the protagonist has a taks, but obstacles are put in their way at every turn, obstacles they have to overcome before they can move on. Kind of stop-start, stop-start. It didn't bother me in The Bloodprint, though, because each obstacle was actually an opportunity to learn more about the world, to get certain answers, and unravel elements of finding the Bloodprint. There is mystery and riddles thrown in, locations and peoples thought to also be myth. It was just so gripping, and I loved travelling along with these characters, as well as meeting the other characters along the way.

However, I did have some other issues with it. The Bloodprint is written in third person, and for the most part, we follow Arian's perspective. But sometimes we get the perspectives of Sinnia, and Daniyar, an old acquaintance that joins the three on the journey, and very occasionally, Wafa, too. But the perspectives jump about with no clear indication as to who you’re currently with. It takes a few sentences to figure out if you’re with Arian as she witnesses another character react to something (or similar), or if you’re currently reading that character's perspective. There’s also some dialogue that we don’t see which is confusing. Are we getting someone’s thoughts, and we're now seeing their perspective? No, they said something, we just don’t get to see it. For example, the text will say something like, ‘Sinnia didn’t think they would be able to get through the Talisman guards and survive. Daniyar disagreed.’ And then Daniyar would voice his disagreement. But it’s not automatically clear whether Sinnia is thinking and we have access to her thoughts, or if she spoke out loud, and we don’t see what she actually said.

I have to say though despite The Bloodprint confusing me in numerous ways, I was fully engrossed in the story and the mystery. Honestly, I bloody loved it! And it ends on such a cliffhanger! Oh my god, that ending! So many twists! So many questions! So I bought myself a finished copy, and thankfully, I immediately bought the sequel, The Black Khan, which I'll be starting soon. I'm so looking forward to reading it, and seeing where Arian's story takes her next!

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