Today is another blog tour day, this time it’s for Evie Manieri’s debut fantasy Blood’s Pride! Buckle up and sit tight, because we have a ton of stuff!
About Evie Manieri:
Evie Manieri graduated from Wesleyan University with a double major in medieval history and theater. Blood’s Pride is her first novel. She lives with her husband and daughter in New York City.
Evie stops by today with a post on DST Syndrome, a topic that’s near and dear to me as I try to adjust to it. Again. Read on!
DST Syndrome (That’s a Real Thing)
Over this past weekend, everyone seemed to be complaining about daylight savings time. The question I kept hearing was, “Why do we even have daylight savings time?” If you’re plagued by this question, a few minutes Googling will tell you everything you want to know (spoiler: it’s Ben Franklin’s fault). After reminding people of this several times, I finally concluded the “WHY?” was more the existential howl of people deprived of an hour’s sleep than a practical question.
All of this led me to think about the crucial role that traditions play in fantasy world-building. A society that doesn’t have traditions is never going to feel real to the reader, but it’s not enough just to create a few customs, all band-box new and shiny, and call that a culture. Cultures age; they change. Some traditions retain their relevancy and continue to bind the society together and give it a sense of continuity – but not always. Other traditions remain embedded in the culture long after any practicality they once had has gone the way of the tallow candle.
In BLOOD’S PRIDE, most of the Shadari remain committed to an institutionalized illiteracy where reading and writing is the sole province of a now-extinct religious order. They hold on to this tradition even though it has crippled them as a society and opened the door to the Norlander invaders. That’s a problem, of course; but the real problem is that they don’t understand the origins of that tradition. Even the characters who rebel against the prohibition can’t hope to change it at the societal level until they understand the deep need for security it once filled, and offer something – even the exact opposite – in exchange.
It can be easy from a modern, rational perspective to sweep aside traditions as rooted in superstition or outdated beliefs. The problem with this approach is that – as every historian I’ve ever met has agreed – people on the whole change very, very little. Societies can be rocked to their foundations and even crumble when traditions are destroyed or abandoned without an understanding of the need that led to their creation in the first place. A society that wants stability instead of anarchy has to understand that tearing down a tradition without providing something to replace it is going to end badly. Usually, very badly.
Not daylight savings time, though. Daylight savings time is evil and should be abolished. Sorry, Ben, but nuts to you already.
Ha ha! I totally agree that daylight savings time is evil and should be abolished!
About Blood’s Pride:
Rising from their sea-torn ships like vengeful, pale phantoms, the Norlanders laid waste to the Shadar under cover of darkness. They forced the once-peaceful fisher folk into slavery and forged an alliance with their former trading partners, the desert-dwelling Nomas tribe, cutting off any hope of salvation.
Now, two decades after the invasion, a rebellion gathers strength in the dark corridors of the city. A small faction of Shadari have hired the Mongrel, an infamous mercenary, to aid their fledgling uprising —- but with her own shadowy ties to the region, she is a frighteningly volatile ally. Has she really come to lead a revolution, or for a more sinister purpose all her own?
Title: Blood’s Pride (Shattered Kingdoms #1)
Author: Evie Manieri
Hardcover: 512 pages
Publisher: Tom Doherty & Associates, LLC, 2013
Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Source: Tor Forge
Evie Manieri’s debut is a pretty fast read, even at 500-plus pages. It’s neither convoluted nor complicated, but don’t let that fool you into thinking this is a piece of fluff. Rather, Blood’s Pride hooks you in with its characters and story — beginning with the Prologue, when the Norlanders show up on the shores of Shadar bringing war and occupation. And the Shadari watch in horror as their religious leaders commit suicide rather than pray to the Gods for salvation…
Fast forward a few decades. The Norlander Governor is dying, and his daughter Frea picking up the reins of control – bucking tradition that says the oldest inherits, which would be Eonar, who’s more interested in… Well, I haven’t figured that out yet, but never mind. Their younger sister Isa gets anxiety attacks when she’s stressed, which does nothing for someone who belongs to a race of fierce warriors. Who burn in the sun. And live in a desert, to boot. Has anyone gone “huh?” yet? Hold on to that thought.
We have better luck with the Shadari, who’ve been subjugated into slave labor. There’s a resistance, led by a man crippled in a mine accident. His twin sister is hiding from everyone, and I haven’t decided if it’s for a good reason, or misguided vanity. Tempers are hot between the villagers (and miners) and the palace servants. And there’s only one Shadari asha – priest – left, and he’s not teaching himself out of a position. Phew.
But wait! We’re not done. There’s also the Nomas, a band of roving nomads whose lifestyle might raise a few eyebrows, and whose King escorts – personally! – a mercenary to Shadar. A mercenary the Shadari hire to help their resistance. Though they have no real plan, no real numbers, no weapons, and no true leader.
Given all of the above, Blood’s Pride could have been a real mess but somehow it isn’t and I think that’s because Evie Manieri makes you care enough about these characters that you worry about them, and wonder what’s going to happen to them, and cross your fingers that they make it through the chaos in one piece. There’s plenty of action, plenty of confusion, and plenty of good-intentions-gone-awry. There’s also a nice wrap-up at the end, and a lead-in for the next story in this trilogy.
If your fantasy interest lies in the vein of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, this isn’t the story for you — it doesn’t have the breadth of vision, character, or political intrigue. But if you like a well-told story with flawed characters who do the best they can with what’s at hand, then give Blood’s Pride a whirl. I’ll be picking up the next book, to see where Manieri takes this.
drey’s rating: Pick it up!
Have you read Blood’s Pride? What did you think? And if you haven’t, read on to win your own copy!
Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy of Blood’s Pride for you, if you live in the US. To enter, fill out the form below before March 28th. Good luck!