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We Cry For Blood by Devin Madson - Review

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OFFICIAL AUTHOR INFO: Devin Madson is an Aurealis Award-winning fantasy author from Australia. After some sucky teenage years, she gave up reality and is now a dual-wielding rogue who works through every tiny side-quest and always ends up too over-powered for the final boss. Anything but zen, Devin subsists on tea and chocolate and so much fried zucchini she ought to have turned into one by now. Her fantasy novels come in all shades of grey and are populated with characters of questionable morals and a liking for witty banter.

FORMAT/INFO: We Cry for Blood was published by Orbit Books on August 3rd, 2021. It is 578 pages split over 32 chapters. It is told in first person from the POVs of Miko, Dishiva, Cassandra, and Rah. It is available in paperback and ebook formats.

Having finally been reunited with the Kisian army and acknowledged as their ruler, Empress Miko turns her sights on ousting Emperor Gideon and his Levanti army from her homeland. But her struggles aren’t just limited to the battlefield, as she tries to hold together a tenuous alliance between her forces and Levanti rebels, as well as dealing with ministers hoping to undermine a woman ruler for their own political gain. Elsewhere, Levanti warrior Dishiva fights a different kind of war. She knows that the priest Leo is a dangerous influence on Emperor Gideon and needs to be removed from court – but how do you fight against an enemy that can seemingly read the thoughts of everyone around him? And while everyone else is managing armies, the assassin Cassandra seeks a way to use her abilities to remove the threat of Leo and his companions from the land once and for all.

The Reborn Empire is back with all the bloodshed, political maneuvering, and betrayals that readers have come to expect from this tale of kingdoms waging war. The focus continues to remain on the Kisian and Levanti sides of the conflict, but there’s still a Chiltean force out there ready to make trouble. But what makes this conflict even more fascinating is that the two opposing forces don’t neatly split along lines of nationality. There’s Kisians and Levanti on both sides of the conflict, driven by different loyalties and different beliefs about the best future for their people. Rah, for instance, continues to be a POV who is trying to desperately lead his people back to the traditional Levanti way of life, which doesn’t hold with emperors or permanent housing, while Gideon and his followers are determined to make a new country for the usually nomadic Levanti. The POVs are well-scattered across all sides of the conflict, showcasing the multiple hopes and dreams vying for supremacy.

But even while this tale is one of sprawling conflict between armies, it manages to feel claustrophobic at the same time. This is due to the increasing number of people who have come to realize that Leo Villius is the mastermind behind most of the conflict, and that his supernatural ability to read minds and seemingly come back from the dead make him almost impossible to outmaneuver. Dishiva continues to be my favorite POV to watch as she grapples with the fact that she is in a war on her own as she tries to take down Leo, and that there is going to be collateral damage as she continues to defy the man. The oppressive feeling of paranoia that follows Dishiva as she tries to determine the limits of Leo’s abilities is a great counterpoint to the larger war and makes the stakes extremely personal.

For the most part, I enjoyed the other POVs as well. Miko continues to have highs and lows as she tries to maintain power in a court that doesn’t really believe women should rule, but don’t see a better alternative at the moment. She’s hamstrung still by her own naivete and personal shortcomings, but they make sense for a woman of seventeen who was never groomed to rule because, well, she’s a woman. Cassandra and Empress Hana continue their own storyline largely removed from the central conflict, but it promises to have a big impact on the final book. But once again, it was Rah who felt like the weak link. Rah has a very strong code of conduct, but that code gives him the belief that he has no right to lead, so he continues to largely passively roam through the storyline, finding out information but rarely acting on it. He does finally start taking charge by the end, but his storyline has never interested me as much as the other three.

CONCLUSION: We Cry for Blood is another excellent installment in this sprawling saga. There’s only one book left in this quartet, and I’m looking forward to the blood-soaked conclusion.

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