cover image The Bloodbound

The Bloodbound

Erin Lindsey. Ace, $7.99 mass market (368p) ISBN 978-0-425-27268-8

Sturdy characterizations and intriguing magic anchor this solid series launch, the first fantasy novel for Lindsey (who wrote the Nicolas Lenoir series under the pseudonym E.L. Tettensor). Headstrong highborn soldier Lady Alix Black of Alden is just trying to save the life of her sovereign, King Erik White, when she unhorses him. The act catapults her into the midst of a dynastic struggle between Erik and his traitorous brother, Tomald; a politically thorny love triangle with Erik and fellow scout Liam; and Alden’s accelerating war with aggressively expansionist Oridia. While Alden’s priests refine the use of lenses and black powder, Oridia’s Trions pervert the endangered art of bloodbinding—in which weapons are uniquely keyed to their wielders by genetics—into the grotesque production of zombie-like “thralls,” edging the generally medieval-ish setting in promisingly genre-blurring directions. By the time the relevance of the novel’s title to the bonds of family, as well as to battle and enchantment, becomes clear, Lindsey’s mostly balanced mix of romance and heroic fantasy will have captured readers’ hearts. Agent: Joshua Bilmes, JABberwocky Literary Agency. (Oct.)