Title: Song of Blood & Stone
Author : L. Penelope
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: 05/01/18
A treacherous, thrilling, epic fantasy about an outcast drawn into a war between two powerful rulers.
Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive–an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart.
Jack’s mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagamiri is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and it’s people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda’s Earthsong to do it. They escape their ruthless captors and together they embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps.
Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation.
The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.
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I’ve been looking forward to sitting down to write this review, because this was one of the better fantasy titles I have read this year.
In this novel you get the current (present) POVs of both Jasminda and Jack. Jasminda is such a strong female lead–she’s independent, strong, fierce, loyal, intelligent, and has no problem with sacrificing or own wants for the greater good. And Jack… without revealing too much about him.. he stands out from the norm for his situation in life. He tends to see people for who they are in their hearts and souls, always stands up for what is right, and has so much determination to protect those that he loves. You also get some flashbacks/visions thrown into the mix from some characters who lived long ago. These flashbacks/visions are super important and it was really great how they all tied together in the ending.
Speaking of the ending— WOW! I kind of lost steam around 60-70% of the way through the book (not due to any fault of the novel’s… I just tend to do that with fantasy sometimes), but once I started hitting that rising action that led up to the climactic ending, I couldn’t put the book down!
For me, this was the perfect level of fantasy. While I enjoy most fantasy titles I pick up, many times I have a hard time wading into the waters and getting started because sometimes I feel overwhelmed with all of the new language, characters, locations, specifications of magic, etc…. But Song of Blood & Stone was very easy to jump head-first into. The Earthsinger magic was not overly complicated, the characters were introduced at a very easy pacing, and the locations were basically divided between two areas, so there weren’t five thousand cities to keep up with.
The magic system in this novel is called Earthsong, and Jasminda is one of the individuals–a Singer– who can perform this type of magic. Some individuals have more power than others, and those who live under the reign of the ‘True Father’ have to give up their song (called a ‘tribute’) to him. Therefore, those that are able to sing (cast Earthsong), have somehow escaped the reign of the ‘True Father’ or, like Jasminda, are living under unique circumstances.
The romance is fantastic in this book. It was also the perfect balance. Many times you either get the adventure overshadowing the romance, or the romance overshadowing the adventure–but L. Penelope got it right with this one.. the perfect blend! Jasminda and Jack have such a strong chemistry and I loved watching their relationship unfold. But they also both know that they serve a bigger purpose in this story and do not let their attraction get in the way of ‘moving mountains’. Also note.. this is definitely an adult fantasy title–there are a couple super steamy scenes (but they are very well integrated and do not dominate the plot in any way).
There are so many layers to this book, which I loved. The diversity is a front-runner in this novel, with not only the author being a POC, but also the main character, Jasminda, is of a dark-skinned race and is often looked down upon for both that and her abilities. She is unique in the fact that she is a blend of these two opposing cultures/races, so she very much has to battle with the challenge of never truly feeling like she ‘fits’ anywhere. There are so many themes of political conflict, discrimination (of all types), fulfillment of destiny, and even moral righteousness (especially when related to refugees). There were so many instances where I paused my reading and really reflected on how the current scene could apply to a current event or current issue (as well as former events/issues in our history).
This book is the first in a series, so I am super anxious to read the next installment. From what I have gathered, the next installment does not jump into a continuation of Jasminda and Jack’s story, but does introduce two new, very likable characters. I cannot wait to pick up the next title and fall in love with another set of characters.
Trigger Warning(s): Adult Sexual Content, Racial/Cultural/Religious Discrimination, Sexual Assault, Attempted Rape, Violence, Violence Toward a Child, War Themes, Death
Thank you to L. Penelope & St. Martin’s Press for providing me with an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.