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Calico Reaction
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Freeman, Pamela: Blood Ties

Blood Ties: Book One of the Castings Trilogy (2008)
Written by: Pamela Freeman
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Pages: 471

The premise: Thousands of years ago, the Eleven Domains were invaded and its natives were pushed onto the road, to be known as Travelers. Now the Eleven Domains are governed by Warlords, but the natives haven't all forgotten the betrayals of the past, and some seek to right the wrongs done to their people. There's Saker, an enchanter who'll do anything to return the land back to the natives; Ash, a safeguarder who has a talent that feels like a curse; and Bamble, a wild, carefree girl who is forced to the road when she kills a Warlord's man. This book, the first in a trilogy, braids these character's stories together while giving the reader a rich world and its history, and it sets up for a battle that's yet to come.

My Rating

Worth the Cash: I can't say it's a must-have, not yet (but it's very close!), because it's only the first book in a trilogy and the point of ending frustrated me a bit. It's cliffhanger, and it really doesn't resolve anything other than to raise more questions and make the reader wish Freeman had ended in either a more resolved section of the story or a much bigger cliffhanger, if that makes sense. It's not the kind of cliffhanger that had me reaching for the second book right away, but it's enough of one that'll frustrate readers because it just kind of, well, stops. But don't let that knowledge detract from an otherwise fine, beautifully wrought world and story. Yes, the book is set-up, but the format and style of it reminds me of a cross between George R.R. Martin and Ursula K. LeGuin, as does the story itself. It's not political fantasy, but it's not sword-and-sorcery either. Epic is probably the best way to describe it, but the attention to certain issues, like displacement of the Travelers and what becomes of the land in the hands of invaders, has a certain ring to it that keeps you turning the pages. The world-building is fantastic, I can't stress that enough. The use of ghosts, the incorporation of gods, just the simple details are wonderful, so if you're a fantasy reader that craves this kind of thing, you simply have to pick this up. The characterization is also finely-tuned and fantastic, as well it should be, given how many pages are spent focusing on each of the POV characters. That I was able to take a three-month break between readings and pick the book back up with no trouble also speaks well to the craftsmanship of the book. The only real flaws are the way that the POV will head-hop a wee bit, and this is distracting (while done well) because each chapter is marked with the POV character's name, so when we're in someone else's head, it's disconcerting for a bit. But no matter, I've got the second book on my shelf, waiting patiently, and the third and final book of the trilogy comes out late this fall. There's no doubt I'll continue reading, and I'm glad that for once, I could judge a book by its cover. :)

Review style: this one will be a little different. Each character has his or her own story, and unlike more familiar books, like George R.R. Martin, the characters don't meet up (some not at all) until the very end, so we have three stories braided together to form the book, which is more set-up than anything, but very good and enjoyable set-up. So, for the sake of the review, I will be talking spoilers, and I'll divide the review into four sections: one for the three main characters, and one extra that discusses what Freeman does that's a little special in terms of world-building.

The full review, which again, includes spoilers, may be found in my LJ. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome.

REVIEW: Pamela Freeman's BLOOD TIES: BOOK ONE OF THE CASTINGS TRILOGY

Happy Reading!
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