Song of Blood & Stone
by L. Penelope
5 out of 5
"Wonderful characters, unique setting, and an engaging romance set against the backdrop of ancient magic. I can't wait to see what L. Penelope will do next."--Ilona Andrews, #1 New York Times bestselling author
L. Penelope's Song of Blood & Stone is 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 Lagrimar 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 its people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda's Earthsong to do it. They escape their vicious captors and together 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.
"Prepare to be hooked. Song of Blood & Stone is brimming with captivating lore, unique magic, and plot-turns you never saw coming. L. Penelope has written your next fantasy obsession." --Elise Kova, USA Today bestselling author of The Loom Saga
Jasminda has always been shunned by those in the village; her dark skin marks her out as a foreign witch. Only when she rescues injured soldier Jack, does she find people that accept her. Together, they are pulled along a path to bring about an ancient prophecy.
I received a free copy from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
This story follows Jasminda, who inherited her dark looks from her father - a man native to Lagamiri, the eternal enemy of her homeland Elsira. Her mother's family have practically disowned her, and would like nothing more than to scrub her from existence.
After her parents are brothers die, Jasminda has to work hard to keep their little family farm running; made all the more difficult by a sudden and unexpected tax bill, that threatens to bankrupt her.
She has grown up with constant racist abuse and distrust from the local town, who can't abide her magic, and her looks.
Jasminda has no interest or ambitions beyond keeping her head down, and saving her farm from being repossessed. Until a chance encounter with an injured soldier suddenly makes her a necessary part in a scheme to refortify the barrier that stops the enemy True Father from attacking and enslaving Elsira.
The soldier, Jack, quickly becomes the most solid friend she's ever had. Despite the fact that his identity is a shifting blur from "gentle poet" to "warrior", "general" and... well, something else. He is the first person that truly believes in Jasminda.
There is an undeniable attraction between the two of them, and you know that it's only a matter of time before passion consumes them, even amidst the threat of war, and political drama.
There's a distinct change in tone, as the plot moves away from the adventure of seeking a way to protect Elsira, and avoiding a magical enemy; to the luxuries of the capital. Here, it focuses more on dances, dresses, political intrigue, and returns to Jasminda's desire to save the farm.
There is also the romance between Jasminda and Jack, as the real world threatens to ruin the connection between them.
I really enjoyed this story. It provided a lot of history and background, so even though the plot skipped along lightly, it felt well-rounded.
I like how it tackled topics like racism and the attitudes towards asylum seekers. It really built up the tension gradually, and flared in all the right places.
I also liked how Jasminda is not the most powerful witch. Her own magic is weak compared to her father and other full-blooded Lagamiri; but she still steps up to do anything she can to help stop the True Father.
This book can be read as a standalone, but does set up for a series to follow.