Book of the Year 2015 (see all)
This is the second novel in the Erebus Sequence, following on from last year’s The Boy with the Porcelain Blade, although this is set ten years after the events in that book. The main character in The Boy with the Porcelain Blade, Lucien, is no longer living in Demesne, instead moving to the other side of Landfall to strengthen the rule of House Diaspora. This leaves us with a new protagonist, Dino Erudito, who was a cheeky scamp of a character in the last story, but has now become a man with many responsibilities in this dark tale of political intrigues. There may be spoilers for The Boy with the Porcelain Blade below so if you haven’t read it go and do so now.
Dino is suffering from a loss of identity as he is given new tasks to perform as the dangers of court life close in from all sides. After Dino’s majority he was given the rank of Maestro Superiore di Spada (superior sword master) something that he almost immediately had to step back from after an assassination attack on his sister Lady Araneae (current ruler of Landfall). This made Dino her bodyguard because who else could he trust to keep her safe? After that things become worse for Dino as he is forced to take up further duties that are not suited to his demeanour or his status in Demesne. Dino is continually forced to choose between his happiness and his sense of duty.
A major theme of this novel is loss, Dino finds himself becoming more isolated during the course of The Boy Who Wept Blood as his friends and allies are slowly removed, almost like pieces on a chess board. With his isolation comes a sense of despair, as Dino no longer knows who he can trust whilst nefarious undercurrents sweep through the castle and the city beyond the gates.
With the fall of the old king (See The Boy with the Porcelain Blade), times are changing in Landfall and there is a noticeable disparity between the wealth of Demesne and the poor of the town of Santa Maria. Santa Maria has risen outside the castle during the changes that Anea (Lady Araneae) has been trying to implement over the last ten years. Throughout Landfall there is a resurgence of a religion which had been wiped out centuries ago; is religion needed to give the people structure once the old world order has collapsed?
As The Boy Who Wept Blood is steeped in political intrigue, this is also a story of betrayal. Each layer of mistrust saturates Demesne, so that you have to pay attention to who is working with whom and why they would do such a thing, alliances that seem staunch end up being more fluid than expected. This story is structured differently from Den Patrick’s previous novel as this is a much more linear story with only a few relevant flash backs rather than a weaving of two timelines. Tonally though, The Boy Who Wept Blood is similar to The Boy with the Porcelain Blade with its flashes of Renaissance Italy and antiquated thoughts about women in power, held by certain characters.
The character of Dino anchors the action and you truly feel sorry for him as he is constantly tested in endurance and self-denial. Over the course of the story both us as readers and the character learn a lot of home truths about the world Dino lives in and it is good to see that he can finally accept himself for all of his differences. At the start of the book, Dino is also surrounded by strong characters that are like family to him, this is important as part of being Orfano is that you are alone. Some of the characters that Dino interacts with appeared in the previous book, but are given more detail here, like Stephania Prospero, who was previously a potential love interest for Lucien, but is now a staunch friend and ally to Dino, Stephania is trying to make a name for herself away from her mother’s schemes. Stephania makes a big impression on the events of the story and I found her to be an interesting character. Then there is Massimo Esposito, a new character and Dino’s best friend. Massimo is loyal to House Contadino, and like Dino is absolutely loyal to those he calls family.
The Boy Who Wept Blood takes us further into the world of Demesne and has many interesting twists and turns which keeps you interested in Dino’s dilemmas. It is utterly fascinating how this world has come together and I really enjoyed the fact that although this is a sequel, it has jumped ten years into the future with a completely different protagonist. This could be seen as risky, but in fact gives us a wider understanding of Landfall. I cannot wait to see what happens to Landfall in the following book in this sequence. Whether the next book will be a direct continuance or something completely new, only Den Patrick knows at this time.
Review by Michelle Herbert
9/10 from 1 reviews
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