Soriano, M.F. : Blood Brothers (Bound By Blood) (2013)

Blood Brothers
Cover design by Streetlight Graphics

Blood Brothers is Soriano’s first completed fantasy novel although he has previously published some work under the pseudonym of Don Broma. It is the first one in a series, something that means that we actually get an ending – something I really like. I also really liked the cover designed by Streetlight Graphics. Soriano actually managed to include the name of the cover designer. I wish all authors could do that, even if the designer is themselves.

I have to say that my favorite character was Verlvik. There was absolutely no competition in my mind. He is so completely alien to my way of thinking and yet completely magnetic. This is what I mean by alien:

“The bird let out another chirp, and then broke out in song. High exultant trills that soared up in bright melody, and then dipped into lovely low warbles. Verlvik’s lips split into a wide grin. It delighted him that such a small creature could be so full of life.

For several minutes the bird poured its heart into its wondrous song. And then, as if singing weren’t enough, it started dancing too. It bowed its cherry head low, spread its brilliant wings, and started hopping forward and back.

Verlvik pushed the locks of his hair out of his face, and turned his head slightly to the left, to get a better view of the bird with his good eye. The tiny bird, apparently pleased to found an attentitive audience, abandoned itself to its performance. I began to spin like a little top, its bright wings flashing in the sun.”

Here Soriano has set me up with an image of a perfect moment in life. The vividness and feeling of this picture is so clear. And then he hits me in the head with a hammer:

“One of the bird’s spins brought it within Verlvik’s reach, and quicker than a cat he’d snatched the bird up and popped it into his mouth. Its little skull cracked like a nut between his teeth, splashing his tongue with a burst of rich flavor. Its delicate ribs splintered as he chewed, and pricked the inside of his lips, salting the meal with a hint of his own blood. He closed his eyes and munched away happily.”

Say what? My mouth practically fell open. Then I laughed and was completely in love. A better job at setting me up has seldom been done. The superlatives are lining up. A character like Verlvik has never come my way before.

Grillis is the first one we are introduced to. He is about 18 years old and is now alone in the world. Because of a facial birthmark others tend to avoid him and he has been bullied some. He was raised by his grandmother and well-loved. Because of this love he has learned the ability to trust, something that will come in handy for him but also bring him trouble. Grillis is also the kind of person that just keeps on going. We meet Grillis a lot in fantasy literature and I have to say that putting him first fooled me into thinking that this was a regular hero’s journey novel. Blood Brothers is not quite that but it does have elements of it.

Athemon is a character I understand. He has grown up bullied for who he is, growing up among a people who have been taught that they are less than the others. We get a taste of that bullying in his introduction. I have to say that my heart-strings were playing low notes in reading about the way he was treated by “his betters” and how his father reacted to that treatment. Sad, sad, sad. One day Athemon has had enough and his revenge is sweet.

All three characters are brought together and together they have to fight some really bad guys. If I was going to guess at target group it would be somewhere in the YA range and up. Maybe not too young because of some of the violence.

One of our characters is human, the other is a caprine and the third a pictsee. The story is told from each person’s point of view and that means, of course, that we switch between Grillis, Athemon and Verlvik.

When switching between characters like Soriano has done it can be difficult to keep in the flow. As I am sure you could tell from the quote above, Soriano definitely has a feel for the flow and he stayed in it a lot of the time. When he falls out he manages to find a way in. This is an excellent quality and it is obvious that Soriano has a talent for the craft. Every once in a while I felt preached to. All it takes to get that away is a little more editing and that will probably hurt.

Blood Brothers was given to me as a reviewer’s copy. As usual I have tried not to let this influence my review.

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