A River of Royal Blood is a fantastic debut. It opens up a series I am sure will thrill readers. I need book two right now, okay?
Sixteen-year-old Eva is a princess, born with the magick of marrow and blood–a dark and terrible magick that hasn’t been seen for generations in the vibrant but fractured country of Myre. Its last known practitioner was Queen Raina, who toppled the native khimaer royalty and massacred thousands, including her own sister, eight generations ago, thus beginning the Rival Heir tradition. Living in Raina’s long and dark shadow, Eva must now face her older sister, Isa, in a battle to the death if she hopes to ascend to the Ivory Throne–because in the Queendom of Myre only the strongest, most ruthless rulers survive.
When Eva is attacked by an assassin just weeks before the battle with her sister, she discovers there is more to the attempt on her life than meets the eye–and it isn’t just her sister who wants to see her dead. As tensions escalate, Eva is forced to turn to a fey instructor of mythic proportions and a mysterious and handsome khimaer prince for help in growing her magick into something to fear. Because despite the love she still has for her sister, Eva will have to choose: Isa’s death or her own.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
A River of Royal Blood is a world building masterpiece. There’s so much going on from the page one: a history of subjugation and power, sibling rivalry which results in a fight to the death, and a fear of what we can’t control. There are gears set into motion from Eva’s birth and the first pages. For me, my favorite elements in A River of Royal Blood was Eva’s quest for self-acceptance and the conflict between the Khiamer and the humans – and the general history of the world.
Magic and Self-Acceptance
Gifted with the dangerous magic the first Queen had – magic of blood and marrow – Eva grows up with the fear of those around her. Even more than that, Eva comes to see her magic as wicked and something she shouldn’t use. In a fight to the death the fact that Eva cannot find a mentor and that she see herself as separate from her magic leave her severely disadvantaged. But everything changes in A River of Royal Blood after an assassination attempt shows that nothing is as it seems.
While I picked up A River of Royal Blood for its sister relationship, this book is more focused on Eva and her struggle for self-acceptance and survival. I think fans of Three Dark Crowns will enjoy this one! That being said, A River of Royal Blood examines the ways her family is torn apart by the rival heirs. How her parents seem to take sides. Nothing is the same after Eva finds out that she is going to have to kill her sister if she wants to survive. In the course of the book, Eva has to figure out what survival is worth to her. How can she survive while refusing to embrace her powerful magic?
The other element that I adored was the world building. In the world there is a history that spans decades. History that influences all her relationships today, whether they be with her guards or her mother. It’s a world built on bloodshed and control. What fascinated me the most was the Khiamer, the people who used to be in control before humans revolted. Now they are kept in enclosures and hated by those in the capital. They live and die according to the humans. It asks an interesting question about what happens in the aftermath of a rebellion. Who is truly the right ruler, is it one who wins the battle or is more empathetic?
A River of Royal Blood illustrates how just because we are born for a purpose does not mean that’s the height of our limits. We have the ability to go beyond what is around us. The views, the power dynamics, and what we are taught. It is a fabulous series opener and I cannot wait for book two!