Bloodmaiden by Christine E. Schulze
Publisher: Old Line Publishing
Pub. Date: May 28th, 2010
Age Level: 12+
Synopsis via GoodReads
Zale. Gauthier. Varden. These three dynasties... They all sound like something out of an ancient, oriental myth or fairy tale. The concept of humans and dragons helping and living in harmony with one another, without fear. To me, that's exactly what they are. A distant dream only read of, whispered secretly, quietly yearned for. For, you see, I am the new Quelda of Tynan. These words echo the mystery, horror, and romance found within Schulze's fantasy novel. Along with her new husband, Chalom, Crislin must choose to embrace cruel tradition, run from it, or stand against it. The young couple's only hope is to rally the help of the three peaceful dragon dynasties of Sulaimon-but tradition is not on their side, even outside the realm of Tynan. The dragons outside Tynan's borders have been rumored as too stubborn and proud to believe their Tynanian brothers would commit such horrors as inflicted upon the Quelda. Gaining their aid is not a likely hope. Yet, any hope at all is valued in Tynan... If they are to stand a chance of bringing cruel tradition to a permanent end, Crisilin and Chalom must brave the constant, consuming blizzards of the Ever-white. They must brave the three dynasties and the challenges awaiting there. Together, they must convince the dragon emperors to allow them access to the shrines which house the sacred Aria - protective strands of music which may be able to disperse the evil from Tynan and unite the four dynasties of Sulaimon as a whole once again. Their only aid stems from a sprite whose moods are as unstable as her magic, a young minstrel, and a mysterious fox. Despite the odds, such plans are daring, dangerous, unprecedented, but fully possible - if they can escape the Wall first.
Full of action, adventure, and exquisite writing, Bloodmaiden is an enchanting, heart-wrenching fantasy novel that perfectly balances the darker and lighter elements that are delicately woven throughout the story.
As surprisingly great as Bloodmaiden was, I felt that it was slightly weakened by the characters. They were mostly well done but you could definitely tell this was a more plot-driven book. Crisilin was a fairly good heroin. One thing I loved about Crisilin was how genuine her emotions seemed. She was rightfully afraid of the things happening but also brave when the time came for her to be so. Chalom seemed to me the weakest of all the characters. You never really heard much out of him except in the very beginning. This leads me to the romance between Crislin and Chalom which was under-developed and lacking in substance, in my honest opinion. Thankfully this was only a very small part of the book. As for the other characters, they were quite an eclectic lot; there was a sprite, a minstrel, a fox and a couple of others that gradually joined in. They all had their own unique personalities backing their characters and I feel they really contributed to the story. Oddly enough, I actually think I liked them a bit better than the two main characters.
The story behind Bloodmaiden is very luminously imagined and refreshingly original. Honestly, I wasn't very sure how well I was going to like this book when I picked it up; I can definitely say I was most pleasantly surprised. Schulze does a great job of laying the ground work in the beginning of the book. Never did I feel confused or like I was missing some key detail. Bloodmaiden was also wonderfully paced, never once having a dull moment. The world that Schulze created was absolutely magical, filled with dragons, sprites, earth hounds, and much more. The various kingdoms were also very distinguishable, each possessing their own cultural and geographical qualities. The story contained an airy lightness but also a darker and more urgent side, both of which were keenly intertwined. Another thing I loved was the incorporation of religious elements. They were subtly done so that a Christian like me would pick up on them; however, they weren't blatantly obvious enough to detract from the story for those non-religious readers out there.
The writing was beautifully crafted; everything was described in such a skillful and marvelous manner. It really helped evoke that captivating, magical feeling throughout the story and was also very emotionally wrought at times.
Bloodmaiden is one of those books that I think would have done great with a more bittersweet ending than it had. However I was still fairly pleased with the end and felt it wrapped everything up nicely.
In the end, I think Bloodmaiden deserves far more exposure and attention than it has received. For one so young, only 22, Schulze has managed to fashion a dazzling fantasy full of both good and evil, humor and sadness, action and adventure. The characters may not have been quite as developed as they could have been but Bloodmaiden is more than worth people's time. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to everyone. I feel this is a book that would easily appeal to middle graders, young adults, and adults. Bloodmaiden should not be overlooked.
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Monday, September 20, 2010
Bloodmaiden by Christine E. Schulze
Posted by ~The Book Pixie at 9/20/2010 11:28:00 AM