Bloodhoney by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
Review by Floresiensis
Fantasy Book Review Book of the Month, September 2012
Fullwinter in the weald – a season of almost unsurvivable cold for anyone foolish enough to venture outside. Even wyrmes die, frozen in the icy wasteland, or falling lifeless from the skies as the host heads west to escape the advance of the two-hides: man… Huddled in a winter den, Micah is thankful to cragclimber Eli Halfwinter for providing him and kingirl Thrace with shelter, while Thrace aches to leave and fly through the skies on her whitewyrme once more. But sniffing out their whereabouts, fuelled by the invigorating liquor known as bloodhoney, is a brutal assassin, seeking vengeance. And worse is to come when they stumble upon a bizarre community headed by a charismatic stone prophet – Deephome…
In May 2010 Stewart & Riddell released Returner’s Wealth, the first instalment in a new frontier-fantasy series entitled Wyrmeweald. Needless to say, being a huge fan of the pair’s ten-book Edge Chronicles, I loved the new direction and found the slightly more adult-orientated story engaging from the first to last page.
I’m a little late getting to reading and reviewing the second book in the trilogy (it was released seven months ago) but am very glad to have at last found the time. Stewart & Riddell are two very talented gentleman, every book of theirs that I have read has been skilfully and professionally put together with the complete understanding of what the reader wants… and that is a damn fine story. They (as Riddell is a major part in the writing process, not just the man behind the beautiful illustrations) know when to put in tension, they know when to calm it down and they know how to portray believable relationships. I am an unashamed fan of their work and when I think excitedly of what new books are coming out each year, the Wyrmweald series is, along with William Horwood’s Hyddenworld series, the ones I look out for most.
I enjoyed Bloodhoney every bit as much as its predecessor and loved the themes that it covered. Unrequited love, friendships built through necessity, survival, and human strength in adversity are all strong features in the narrative but it is the destruction being caused to the weald by the kith (humans) that stands out most, mirroring as it does events, both past and present, from our own world.
My favourite parts in the book featured the chillingly evil Winter Caller, an assassin sent to wreak vengeance on Micah and Eli for there part in slaying a keld mistress. The Winter Caller brings back memories of the brilliant Screed Toe-Taker from The Edge Chronicles Stormchaser but as this book is written for an older readership the assassin was even more chilling and disturbing:
“The winter caller knocked her aside with a casual shrug that sent her sprawling to the snow-covered ground, and his hood fell back. The girl looked up and gasped at the sight of the bone mask. ‘Daddy! Daddy! Daddy…’ There was a splintering sound. Blood started to ooze between the fingers of the wyrmeskin gloves. It spattered down onto the snow, red on white, turning pink, like cherry blossom. The lifeless body slumped down upon it with a dull thump.”
An excerpt from Bloodhoney
All I really want from a book is a tale that I find interesting involving characters that I care about. It doesn’t matter what genre it is, the essential elements need to be there. And Stewart & Riddell create these stories seemingly effortlessly. I realise that taste is subjective but we live in a world of ebooks and websites where reading an extract or first chapter is commonplace. So why not visit the Stewart & Riddell website, have a quick read and discover if this series is for you. I sincerely hope you love these books as much as I do, they are ideal for those who have grown up with the Edge books and will enjoy this natural progression. Highly recommended.
A big thank you to my favourite book store, Waterstones, for kindly supplying me with a beautiful hardback copy for review. You can find Wyrmeweald: Bloodhoney reviews and purchasing options on their website.
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