Title: Blood Branded
Author: J.A. Alexsoo
Series: The Mix-Blood Book 1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating out of 5 Stars: 3.75
Releases October, 1, 2019
Defiance is paid in blood.
Their time is up. The crimsons are coming, marching on Hammerstone to crush the rebellious grays who renounce their rule. The graybacks have defied the ban that forbids trade or alliances with other races.
Frafnar understands intolerance better than most. Every season the grayback settlements send tribute to their oppressive orc cousins, and Hammerstone is no exception. After Frafnar is denied the opportunity to join the tribute guard because of his mixed heritage, he leaps at the chance to prove himself when his father’s signal horn is left behind.
Smoke rises in the distance. Frafnar must warn Hammerstone of the threat and comes to realize that his people are struggling with what he’s faced all his life. Now he must fight alongside those he loves—and hates—to protect his home.
Can Hammerstone withstand the siege, or will it become the final gravesite in a failed rebellion?
When the crimsons strike, always remember…
…strength in blood.
The story starts out feeling a bit like you've jumped into the middle of a story right before the big climax. Not that it was a bad thing, but there's not a lot of lead up into said climax. You are given a brief introduction to Frafnar's back story. He's half human, half orc. (Orcs in this particular story are warriors but they are far more intelligent then most fantasies play them off.) Because of his half blood lineage, he's constantly looked down upon despite trying to prove his worth. He's hoping with an incoming army threatening their people he might get a chance. When his father leaves behind his war horn, he takes the opportunity to run after his father. Unfortunately he finds himself in a bit over his head.
While the first half focuses a lot on Frafnar, the second half I felt really belonged to his mother as far as the stories focus went. She has some druidic/shamanistic abilities that feature heavily during the battle. While Frafnar is present I think he played more of a secondary aspect.
This is a very short read. For being a fantasy novella Blood Branded is surprisingly fleshed out. I was left satisfied with what I read. Everything was cleanly presented and easy to follow. One example I can give of this involves several ranking/groupings with their own names that you don't get much description of outside of the glossary, (props for that!) But the way they are written you get the general idea.
It really reminded me of the old Dragonlance books I read as a kid. Over all I really enjoyed this. I would love to see the author take this and run with it and really build a fuller story with it.
Definitely worth the read.
**E-Arc kindly provided by the author in exchange for an honest opinion.