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by Faith Hunter
Series: Rogue Mage #1
First in the Rogue Mage apocalyptic paranormal alternative history science fiction series (a.k.a., Thorn St. Croix) and revolving around, well, Thorn St. Croix, a mage on the run, currently living in Mineral City, Carolina, in the Appalachian Mountains.
This is a fascinating world Hunter has created. It’s so detailed, and despite it being so dang cold, it’s a cozy world that still has too many terrors everywhere. Swearing and blasphemy is punishable with branding. Rock-and-roll has only recently come off the banned list. Religious worship in different faiths is allowed only as long as there is no violence. The overall arc is the challenge of a mage living illegally, in hiding, outside an Enclave and keeping out of the sight of seraphs and humans.
Bloodring is primarily from a first-person point-of-view, Thorn’s, with the occasional touch of simple third-person subjective. As for the conflict…holy cats! I’m not sure if Hunter left any out, actually, there are two that didn’t slide in, lol. For the rest, it’s character vs character, character vs fate, character vs God, character vs nature, and character vs society with all those subplots going on: the mage-heat Thorn battles, the fate the seraphs dangle before her, the threats to Thorn for who she is from the seraphs and the town, saving the town (or not), the threats to the Stanhope brothers, Ciana’s danger, and what the daywalker wants. Phew…
Hunter folds in the backstory nicely, although she does confuse me quite frequently. There’s plenty of foreshadowing for upcoming events in this story — and in the next two stories in the series! As for the eucatastrophe at the end, it was a pip. That sudden switch in the attitude of the townspeople toward Thorn still confuses the heck out of me. I don’t know if it was intended as a purposeful negative turnabout or what, but it did not make any sense. I’d’ve thought that being blessed by a seraph would convey a holy aura around someone…?
I love reading about the work Thorn, Jacey, and Rupert create for their shop. The support they give each other, the love.
Thorn does annoy me in that she never bothered to learn to deal with her abilities. It also took me awhile to figure out what was going on with the Mistress and the daywalker.
Hunter keeps the action going and the tension up throughout. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s horrifying, but it’s never boring.
It’s been eighty-seven years since the last great battle, since the last plague set loose by the seraphs. As a result the world is suffering a mini-ice age where demons roam and seraphs rule — where government gave way to strict rule by kirk elders. To eliminate violence.
Now Lucas has been attacked. His latest wife is begging for seraph help, and when a cop shows up, accusing Thorn St. Croix of kidnapping her ex-husband, the threat to Thorn intensifies.
For a seraph will know that Thorn is a mage. She’ll be tortured cruelly. To death. A slow death.
Thorn St. Croix, a stone neomage, is in hiding. To earn a living she works with gems, creating jewelry that is in demand through the business, Thorn’s Gems, she shares with two friends. Homer is her horse. Rose had been Thorn’s twin sister, a licensed mage. Lemuel Hastings, a rock hound, had been Thorn’s foster father. The gay Rupert Stanhope with his thespian style is the second partner in the shop and is in love with Audric, a salvage miner and a mule, a crossbreed, who came from the Seattle Enclave. Jacey, the third partner, is married to Zedikiah “Big Zed“, Sr., and they have nine children total. Zeddy is the oldest stepson; Sissy is nine.
Detective Thaddeus Bartholomew is with the Carolina State Law Enforcement and is a Hand of the Law. He is also, unknowingly, a child of the seraph Baraqyal, a kylen, as well as cousin to the Stanhope brothers. Lucas Stanhope is Thorn’s ex-husband, a woman-chasing cheat. Ciana is his eight-year-old daughter by a previous marriage. Marla is Lucas’ nasty first wife. Jane Hilton is Lucas’ third wife. Rupert and Jason are Lucas’ brothers. Their great-grandfather, Benaiah Stanhope, was also known as the Mole Man, a revered warrior who went underground with the seraphs. Gramma is the Stanhope paternal grandmother.
Law Enforcement Center (LEC)
Thorn and Audric report the attacks to Officer Litton. Captain Durbarge is an Administration of the ArchSeraph Investigator (AASI, assey). Richards is Durbarge’s toady.
Mineral City, Carolina, is…
…in the Appalachian Mountains. Polly is wife to Elder Jasper, the youngest elder. Sennabel Schwartz, the librarian, is Jasper’s mother. Derek Culpepper‘s family is powerful, wealthy, and influential; the patriarch is an Elder. Shamus and Do’rise Waldroup are bakers, and his family has been part of Mineral City for over a hundred and seventy years. Esmeralda Boyles; Fergus Yardley, a geologist; Randall Prentice, the moneyman behind the plans; and, Eli Walker, who has a feldspar mine and does some tracking for the kirk and cops, are at the town meeting. Doc Hampford is the town veterinarian.
Fazelle and Nova Henderson own the Henderson Shielded Mine. Hoop Marks is one of the guides; Hoop, Jr., is his second-in-command. Malcolm Stone is a customer.
Oliver Winston is an SNN reporter-at-large. Tom Snead is an SNN anchor. Emmanuelle Beasley is the newest female action star.
…reservations, both prison and safe zone to which neomages are restricted, allowed out only with seraph permission. Lolo is the head priestess of the New Orleans Enclave and had been a friend of Thorn’s mother. Stone, earth, metal, and sea mages can twist leftover creation energy to their will and can only breed if they are in heat. Second-unforeseen children are half-breeds, half-seraph and half-human.
Earth Invasion Heretics (EIH) is…
…an organization that believes seraphs are aliens who came to invade our world.
…terrifying angels, winged warriors, who live in the Realms of Light; Manhattan is one of them. The Seraphic High Host is the seraph ruling council, which declared mages are soulless, and therefore lesser. Michael is the ArchSeraph. Chamuel is a seraph who bought a piece of Thorn’s jewelry. Other seraphs include Uriel; Zaldkiel, the seraph of solace and gentleness; Raziel, the revealer of the rock and a ruling prince, chief of the supreme mysteries; and, Adonal, the angel of punishment. Azrael is a death seraph who brought plague to Paris; 1,000 lived. Twin seraphs, Mordad and Murdad, destroyed Jerusalem and Mecca. Metatron destroyed Washington D.C. They were only a few of the many cities destroyed in the first plague.
The Mistress Amethyst, Holy Amethyst, is a Being of Light, a Power of Light, a member of the High Host, and similar to a seraph. The navcone is the navigation nosecone of her ship, using the energy of creation.
Mages and kylen have an almost instant, undeniable sexual attraction — think “going into heat”! Such a mating is forbidden.
The Dark is…
…evil, demons and spawn that roam the dark, hunting people. Dragons are Major Powers who battled the seraphs. Daywalkers are spawn who claim humans for sex or food. Malashe-el is the spawn who kidnapped Lucas. A rogue mage is one who has gone over to the Dark. A blood-demon is a Dark spirit who uses human bodies, moving through bloodlines.
The Cover and Title
The cover is vivid in its green battle of a background with a vibrant Thorn in profile, wearing black leather, carrying a gun with a sword sheathed on her back, and a swirl of red around her. The title is in white and spans the center of the cover with the author’s name, also in white, at the bottom.
The title is a recurrence, a thick ring of bloody red encircling the moon, a Bloodring, an omen.