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Lidan Tolak is the fiercest of her father’s daughters; more than capable of one day leading her clan. But caught between her warring parents, Lidan’s world begins to unravel when another of her father’s wives falls pregnant. Before she has time to consider the threat of a brother, a bloody swathe is cut through the heart of the clan and Lidan must fight, not only to prove Lidan Tolak is the fiercest of her father’s daughters; more than capable of one day leading her clan. But caught between her warring parents, Lidan’s world begins to unravel when another of her father’s wives falls pregnant. Before she has time to consider the threat of a brother, a bloody swathe is cut through the heart of the clan and Lidan must fight, not only to prove her worth, but simply to survive. Ranoth Olseta wants nothing more than to be a worthy successor to his father’s throne. When his home is threatened by the aggressive Woaden Empire, Ran becomes his city’s saviour, but powers within him are revealed by the enemy and he is condemned to death. Confused and betrayed, Ran is forced to flee his homeland, vowing to reclaim what he has lost, even if it kills him. Facing an unknown future, and battling forces both familiar and foreign, can Lidan and Ran overcome the odds threatening to drag them into inescapable darkness?


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Lidan Tolak is the fiercest of her father’s daughters; more than capable of one day leading her clan. But caught between her warring parents, Lidan’s world begins to unravel when another of her father’s wives falls pregnant. Before she has time to consider the threat of a brother, a bloody swathe is cut through the heart of the clan and Lidan must fight, not only to prove Lidan Tolak is the fiercest of her father’s daughters; more than capable of one day leading her clan. But caught between her warring parents, Lidan’s world begins to unravel when another of her father’s wives falls pregnant. Before she has time to consider the threat of a brother, a bloody swathe is cut through the heart of the clan and Lidan must fight, not only to prove her worth, but simply to survive. Ranoth Olseta wants nothing more than to be a worthy successor to his father’s throne. When his home is threatened by the aggressive Woaden Empire, Ran becomes his city’s saviour, but powers within him are revealed by the enemy and he is condemned to death. Confused and betrayed, Ran is forced to flee his homeland, vowing to reclaim what he has lost, even if it kills him. Facing an unknown future, and battling forces both familiar and foreign, can Lidan and Ran overcome the odds threatening to drag them into inescapable darkness?

30 review for Blood of Heirs

  1. 4 out of 5

    Petrik

    ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. 4.5/5 stars Emotionally gripping and enthralling, Blood of Heirs will leave a mark on character-driven fantasy fans. I have rejected a lot of ARC and review requests (Sorry authors and thank you for the understanding) over the past three months due to my commitment to thin my TBR pile. I knew literally nothing about this book when the author approached me; there wasn’t even any reviews or cover art yet. Regardless, my gut told me to acce ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. 4.5/5 stars Emotionally gripping and enthralling, Blood of Heirs will leave a mark on character-driven fantasy fans. I have rejected a lot of ARC and review requests (Sorry authors and thank you for the understanding) over the past three months due to my commitment to thin my TBR pile. I knew literally nothing about this book when the author approached me; there wasn’t even any reviews or cover art yet. Regardless, my gut told me to accept it and I’m gratified I did. I finished the book in less than 24 hours due to how addictive it was, and now I’m hoping that this review will be able to convince more readers to give this book a go. Alicia Wanstall-Burke’s debut, Blood of Heirs is the first book in The Coraidic Sagas, and the story focuses its narrative on two main characters: Lidan and Ranoth. This debut was dark in tone, a highly character-driven book that packed a lot of punches. There may not be anything new for the fantasy genre here; if you’re looking for something revolutionary and epic in scope, you might want to look elsewhere. However, if you want a familiarly magnificent story or just an incredible book with three-dimensional characters—both main and side—that features a lot of vividly thrilling scenes accompanied with great prose? Look no further, this stunning debut is a jackpot. The storyline inBlood of Heirs may be relatively small in scope but it’s bloody huge in impact. Wanstall-Burke expertly demonstrates how a well-written book can make any kind of conflict—no matter how small or large—tremendously intense to read. One small example: a debate between parents in this book felt incredibly tense and more pulse-pounding than some war scenes I’ve read. Full of twists and turns, unpredictable, and wonderfully paced, there was simply never a dull moment within this debut. One of the main factors behind the addictive nature of the book was how well-written and developed the two main characters were. Lidan’s story, which imbued the themes of family and defiance to subservience, was empowering to read. Ran’s story, which centered around war, survival, and magic, was equally immersive and engaging in a different way. Their feelings, thoughts, and motivations were clearly delivered to the audience. Plus, the dialogues and interactions between the two main POV and their respective side characters were a constant page-turning experience. Greatness encapsulated every single action scenes; all of them were brimming with tension and crucial to the plot progression or characters’ development. It was almost as if both the characters and action sequences were dancing to the dark tune the author has orchestrated; resulting in dramatically memorable scenes that will stick with readers. Wanstall-Burke’s way of handling the characters’ development, their environment, and the bad situations they were in was utterly well-composed that it felt like I was truly there with them. As a matter of fact, I was so invested and engrossed by the characters’ respective journeys that I forgot that there was a map of the world for me to observe, one I ended up checking only before starting and after finishing the novel. Excluding a few repetitive wordings—specifically “bile/vomit burning/boiling in her/his throat.”—that I found to be a bit distracting within the first half of the book, I was fully hooked by the narrative due to Wanstall-Burke’s well-polished prose. Honestly, the book really didn’t feel like a debut effort. Wanstall-Burke did her world-building efficiently; although the main characters' stories took place far from each other without converging in this installment, the feeling that they’re still part of the same world was always there. There are four or five other fantasy series I’ve read that tried the same Daenerys POV treatment—putting a character in a completely different land with their own story—that felt completely disjointed from each other because their respective stories didn’t feel like they belong in the same book. I didn’t get that feeling here. To elaborate upon my point, Lidan's POV took place in the South Land; swords and iron are extremely rare to find in this region but they're common in the North, which is where Ranoth's story took place. Additionally, judging from the ending of the book, it certainly looks like an expansion to the magic, politics, and history of the world will be coming in the sequel. I’ve been having one of the greatest months of reading in my life this September; I’ve rated recently read books 4.5 stars four times in a row, and this impressive debut serves to increase that streak to five. Blood of Heirs is a superbly written, pulse-pounding, and evocative debut that’s designed to effortlessly pull readers into Wanstall-Burke’s imagination. The book isn’t even officially out yet and I’m already looking forward to devouring the sequel. I’m currently in the middle of compiling a list of the top 10 best self-published books I’ve ever read, with the intention of publishing it at the end of this year; I assure you that this book will be there. Official release date: October 27th, 2018 You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mark Lawrence

    This book is a finalist in the 5th Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, having beaten 290 other novels for one of the 10 finalists spots! Read more about the SPFBO here: https://mark---lawrence.blogspot.com/... It's also by a long time Facebook chum of mine. I can put all that aside though and say with honesty that it's a really good read. The story starts off with a somewhat generic feel, following a duke's son in a medievalesque setting and the daughter of a clan leader (I'm never entirely sure if he This book is a finalist in the 5th Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, having beaten 290 other novels for one of the 10 finalists spots! Read more about the SPFBO here: https://mark---lawrence.blogspot.com/... It's also by a long time Facebook chum of mine. I can put all that aside though and say with honesty that it's a really good read. The story starts off with a somewhat generic feel, following a duke's son in a medievalesque setting and the daughter of a clan leader (I'm never entirely sure if he rules over more than one village / small town). The clan is of the horse-riding, archers on grasslands type, but does have added interest by being pretty close to the stone-age. Anyway, there are many fine books with generic bones (like A Game of Thrones), and this turns out to be one of them. The world building, plotting, description are all solid, but it's the characters that shine, and basically if you have a great character then that makes the book. It's the girl, Lidan, who is the most interesting character. With both the point-of-view characters it took me a while to warm to them but by the end of the book I was fully invested, and the last few chapters are exciting stuff. AWB is no softy, and bad stuff happens, innocents die, and there's a palpable feeling of risk for everyone. There were, as with any book, a few niggles. Some journeys felt too long, some too short, some communications over short distances seemed too limited whereas others over huge distances seemed too comprehensive. One person fails to tell another useful information for reasons I'm not clear on. But none of it is show stopping. The two threads of the book feel destined to come together - but don't between these two covers - which surprised me. In fact, although they are (presumably) in the same world, the only connection between them is a common source of danger, revealed only late on in the second of the two. While this does risk making the novel just two shorter books with alternating chapters, it does have the advantage of saving something for book 2 (which has recently been published). Anyway, in short, I encourage you to give it a go. If you want solid writing, real characters that you'll end up rooting for, excitement, moments of genuine pathos, and a young girl getting stabby - it's very likely to please. Join my 3-emails-a-year newsletter #prizes ....

  3. 4 out of 5

    Edward

    Check out my review for this fantastic book on Booknest at: Booknest Blood of Heirs is a fantastic display of character-driven fantasy that will have you feeling every ounce of pain, relief, joy and terror that the POVs endure. “Four more cups of strong drink finally muffled the cries and erased the images dancing bloody steps across his mind. They would return again tomorrow, but for now, the numb ignorance of drink gave him peace.” Alicia Wanstall-Burke has carved out a sublime debut within Bloo Check out my review for this fantastic book on Booknest at: Booknest Blood of Heirs is a fantastic display of character-driven fantasy that will have you feeling every ounce of pain, relief, joy and terror that the POVs endure. “Four more cups of strong drink finally muffled the cries and erased the images dancing bloody steps across his mind. They would return again tomorrow, but for now, the numb ignorance of drink gave him peace.” Alicia Wanstall-Burke has carved out a sublime debut within Blood of Heirs, Book 1 of The Coraidic Sagas and it completely took me by surprise. Everything I have read as of late has been fulfilling my ‘inspirational prose’ needs and it was a welcome surprise to read a book that focussed on the characters and their lives, rather than concentrating on flowery language. Not to say that the prose isn’t great, but Blood of Heirs is a book about two characters which instantly crafts a connection between the reader and the two young heirs. Lidan is an heir of a horse-based stone-age culture. She is the oldest of many sisters and has a burning need to be one of the renowned rangers of her clan, to prepare her for becoming the leader of the tribe. However, with one of her fathers wives becoming pregnant, Lidan fears the child will be a boy and her life will change forever. Ranoth is the only son of Duke Ronart of Orthia and is becoming a leader of men in the midst of battle, as Orthia is engaged in a ferocious war against the Woaden Empire. Ran is hit by an unfortunate and accidental secret that results in his life being swept from beneath his feet. “He did not wish to feel the pain again.” The two characters are brilliantly written. Lidan is an inspirational young-female lead who feels so human and real. I instantly felt connected to her and knew from the first chapter that I would love this story. Lidan’s story arc is full of engaging sequences, action and bitter twists, as well as moments that had me sweating for her and fearing for her life and future. The ending of her arc was perfectly done and she is a total legend. Ranoth’s story had similar themes to Lidan’s with the issues of their parents, but it took this theme in a whole different direction. Ran’s chapters had so much diversity and I was rooting for him the whole time. There were scenes with him that were written so well that the terror he felt was so palpable I felt my heart quicken and I was genuinely worried. “He’d waited with bated breath for his fifteenth birthday and the chance to finally stand with his father and learn the business of war, yet as he beat a retreat to the command centre a day’s ride from Signal Hill, he wondered silently if he’d been utterly insane to desire such a thing.” It is a well-written book with clear plot points and a very easy-going style. I read it in 2 nights as it was so easy to devour. Each POV has roughly 3-4 chapters before it moves on to the next character which I felt really added to the feeling of connecting with the characters, especially early on. In the latter stages of the book each chapter ended tenser and tenser and built up to a scintillating final third of the story. “She was not a brood mare, to be traded over wine and laughter. She was the heir.” 5/5 - Blood of Heirs is a story of two characters. It has epic moments, it has intimate moments, and it is written brilliantly. A style that is easy to understand and easy to read, I loved Blood of Heirs and I’m sure you will too! This is currently in the finals for Mark Lawrence’s SPFBO. Highly recommended to everyone.

  4. 4 out of 5

    William Gwynne

    My review is now on BookNest - Blood of Heirs - BookNest I read Blood of Heirs as a judge for the SPFBO competition. This was my 3rd and final read for it. Blood of Heirs is a character driven story that is great across the board. Lovely prose, great plot, brilliant characters. The world was crafted excellently, subtly making it more and more vivid and interesting as the story developed. There is no aspect of this that was not a joy to read! It really surprised me how enveloped and immersed I beca My review is now on BookNest - Blood of Heirs - BookNest I read Blood of Heirs as a judge for the SPFBO competition. This was my 3rd and final read for it. Blood of Heirs is a character driven story that is great across the board. Lovely prose, great plot, brilliant characters. The world was crafted excellently, subtly making it more and more vivid and interesting as the story developed. There is no aspect of this that was not a joy to read! It really surprised me how enveloped and immersed I became in this book, to the extent that I was reading for hours and had not realised, so engrossed was I. The story revolves around the tale of two narratives from the perspectives of Lidan and Ranoth. Their stories link in some mysterious ways but are seperate from each other, exploring entirely different settings, cultures and dangers. Ranoth is the male protagonist. An heir to a kingdom, a kingdom that is facing large-scale invasions from a greater Empire. He has recently acquired a military position in order to show his worth, but his inexperience and naivety will lead to grave results. His fifteen year old self is about to uncover nightmares that he never even imagined were possible. The phrase, ignorance is bliss, springs to mind in this story. Lidan is the female protagonist. An heir to a clan. But only because her father has not produced a male heir. Yet. If she comes to have a brother, she will be nothing but a political tool to marry off for an alliance. So, she must prove herself worthy. But when you are hindered for being a twelve year old girl at every turn, it is far harder than expected. A constant question throughout her perspective was, how far will one go to preserve their future? And who will they harm to maintain this? This two characters form on these pages almost magically, taking shape perfectly. By the conclusion to this book, I felt genuine attachment for both, and fretted at multiple points for their wellbeing. I usually love the book that is ram-packed with action, with a nonstop pace that takes me on a whirlwind of an adventure. But Blood of Heirs was not like this. Despite the difference to most novels I enjoy, the way in which it was executed was wonderful. The tension gradually rose and by the last third, I just could not stop reading. Before I started, my brother Edward told me that there was a scene that terrified him. I thought he was maybe exaggerating and just laughed at him. But oh… I should have believed him. Anyone who has read this will know the scene I am talking about. SO SCARY! The prose isn’t lyrical or extravagant, but instead is subtle, efficient and smooth. It carried along the character development and worked perfectly for the story, allowing me to read the second half of this book in just one sitting. Overall, this was a fantastic debut and opening to The Coraidic Sagas by Alicia Wanstall-Burke, and I look forward to reading the sequel at some point. I was very lucky to be given this to read for the SPFBO competition, and wish Alicia all the best with the results. This deserves to go far! 9/10

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kaitlin

    * I read this as a judge for the #SPFBO * I have to say I knew early on from when I started this that I was going to enjoy it as it was easily a page turner and I connected straight away with the story. It's not the kind of book which is super new or unique, but what it does it does well and I enjoyed seeing the character development, magic and lay of the land in this. We follow two main PoVs. - Ran - a young man in a war-torn environment trying to learn to take on a leadership role. The story he * I read this as a judge for the #SPFBO * I have to say I knew early on from when I started this that I was going to enjoy it as it was easily a page turner and I connected straight away with the story. It's not the kind of book which is super new or unique, but what it does it does well and I enjoyed seeing the character development, magic and lay of the land in this. We follow two main PoVs. - Ran - a young man in a war-torn environment trying to learn to take on a leadership role. The story he has is filled with magic and there's a lot to like about Ran and how he deals with things which no normal heir would have to deal with. - Lidan - a young girl who also wants to be a leader but is having a hard time because of the life she leads and the fact that she's a female heir. She's constantly having to learn about the rows of her family over her, and her story is about defying the odds and being strong and brave as a female too. The story goes along at a good pace and I never felt like there was a dull moment. I found myself constantly thinking that there would be something new coming, and I was not disappointed :) The magic of this world is in the form of curses, beasts, creatures and more. I found it a lot of fun to see each new strand being introduced, but I also want to know what is going to happen next as the story seems to only just be beginning when it ends! Overall, a very fun read and a book series I would happily continue with. 8/10 for #SPFBO or 4*s overall from me :)

  6. 5 out of 5

    TS Chan

    An impressive debut by Alicia Wanstall-Burke, Blood of Heirs marks a promising start to an exciting new fantasy series. This is a well-written, highly character-driven narrative that follows two main characters, both heirs to the ruling power of their own people. Lidan Tolak is the first-born daughter of the clan chief and the heir apparent, unless of course, a brother comes along into the patriarchal society she belongs to. Prince Ranoth Olseta is the only son of the Duke of Orthia. Although he An impressive debut by Alicia Wanstall-Burke, Blood of Heirs marks a promising start to an exciting new fantasy series. This is a well-written, highly character-driven narrative that follows two main characters, both heirs to the ruling power of their own people. Lidan Tolak is the first-born daughter of the clan chief and the heir apparent, unless of course, a brother comes along into the patriarchal society she belongs to. Prince Ranoth Olseta is the only son of the Duke of Orthia. Although he will not suffer any gender discrimination in inheriting his father's throne, a sudden twist of fate or, more aptly, misfortune resulted in Ran running for his life. For a story that does not have a lot of the more typical epic action or battle scenes, the development of Lidan and Ran's characters are emotionally engaging and gripping. The POVs of these two main characters do not connect at all in this first book, but somehow, each of their tales stand really well on its own as they struggle through their problems and challenges. Ran's story was fascinating right from the very start, while it took a bit more time for Lidan to grab my interest. Even though the story is relatively small in scope at this point, the potential for a much larger scale narrative is definitely on the cards, judging from the worldbuilding and characterisation that the author has skilfully crafted for this intriguing tale of two heirs from two very different worlds.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nick Borrelli

    There are certain books that you just know within the first 25 pages are going to be simply amazing. I could tell right away just from Alicia Wanstall-Burke's writing style that I was going to enjoy BLOOD OF HEIRS. Then I was introduced to two incredibly special characters, both with their own unique story line and I was absolutely hooked. The action in BLOOD OF HEIRS, the first book of The Coraidic Sagas, mainly takes place in two countries. Hummel is the first, where Lidan is heir to be chief There are certain books that you just know within the first 25 pages are going to be simply amazing. I could tell right away just from Alicia Wanstall-Burke's writing style that I was going to enjoy BLOOD OF HEIRS. Then I was introduced to two incredibly special characters, both with their own unique story line and I was absolutely hooked. The action in BLOOD OF HEIRS, the first book of The Coraidic Sagas, mainly takes place in two countries. Hummel is the first, where Lidan is heir to be chief of her father's clan if only by default since his multiple wives have not been able to provide a male heir. That could change very soon however. Orthia is the other city where Ran is a commander stationed with his troops guarding the mountain pass that separates his homeland from their bitter enemy the Woaden Empire. We join his story as the Woaden are making serious inroads in an attempted invasion that is taking all of the Orthian troops' efforts to hold back. The book alternates between these two main stories and does so very effectively in my opinion. They are also independent of each other but one has a sense that at some point in the future, they will eventually converge. Lidan is a conflicted character as all she really wants to do is ride horses and become a Ranger protecting her clan and home like her father. Her mother Sellan has other plans however, and goes to great lengths to see to it that Lidan is protected in order that she ascend to the position of power that is her birthright. Sellan is often brutal with her daughter and their relationship is one that can only be described as turbulent at best. Things are further thrown into flux when one of the wives of Lidan's father becomes pregnant. If the child is a boy it could threaten Lidan's place as the next clan leader and complicate her position with the clan. But before that can happen, something unthinkable occurs and Lidan is thrust at the forefront of a threat that neither she or her family could ever foresee. At the Orthian front, Ran's forces are being pummeled into a retreat by the invading Woaden horde. The arrows that rain down onto the attacking army are being dissolved in midair before they can even reach their targets, and the battle seems to be tilting in the direction of the enemy. It soon becomes evident that the Woaden have enlisted the aid of a powerful mage who cuts a violent path through the Orthian troops and directly toward Ran himself. In his attempt to fight back the mage's advances, Ran conjures a magic of his own that he did not know he possessed and kills the Woaden mage in an explosion of sorcery. When he returns to his home his father questions him on how he could kill such a powerful mage by himself and he is forced to reveal that he indeed did use magic to do so. As the Orthians are extremely superstitious of magic and it is strictly against their laws to practice, Ran's own father imprisons him in a dungeon. There he awaits the swift and decisive judgment that are sure to result from his actions. Ran's only hope is to escape somehow and flee before he can be executed. Could his newly-found magic be a tool to help him achieve this? What future lies ahead for Orthia if the Woaden invade again, this time with even more mages leading the charge and ones armed with even more devastating powers? Ran is torn between his loyalty to his homeland and protecting his own neck as he faces certain death for his unspeakable crime of performing forbidden magic. BLOOD OF HEIRS is a book that just floored me from the start and then had me obsessively burying my face into every free reading moment that I had. These are the types of books that make me thankful to be a reviewer because I get to be exposed to new independent authors who write amazing stories like this one. For one thing, the battles are extremely bloody and merciless. Alicia Wanstall-Burke goes into great detail with every arrow launched, every sword thrusted, and every fireball conjured. I was really impressed with the way in which she makes you feel as if you are directly in the middle of the action, reflexively ducking to dodge that incoming enemy hammer smash. The world-building was so unique in that the two main locations where the story takes place couldn't be more different and yet the characters faced very similar personal issues. Hummel, where Lidan's clan lives, is a very late Stone Age and pre-Bronze Age type of society where weapons are quite crude and basic. Ran's country of Orthia on the other hand, employs much more advanced weapons and is more of a medieval type of society as far as technology and social structure goes. Yet as I said, both characters face issues within their respective families that force them to make incredibly difficult choices. So both in a way are very similar even though they come from totally different backgrounds and places in the world. This is where I thought the true brilliance of this book came through. Virtually anyone can relate to the theme of two people who appear very different at first glance, but in reality are much more similar when you get right down to it. I really loved this book on so many levels and the characters just served to raise this story to another level as we see them put in terrible situation after terrible situation. Yet I always felt like they would persevere no matter what the odds were. One thing I will say is this is a very dark book and by no means a light read. Be prepared for violence aplenty, crude language, and some villainous characters who literally have no redeeming qualities at all. That being said, it is a book that I absolutely devoured in a short period of time and felt sad when I came to the final page. The only consolation I can take away is that I know that we are not done with this story and that Alicia Wanstall-Burke has much more to tell in future books. This is a series that has so many more questions that I need answered and I cannot wait until the next book comes out. In closing I just want to say that if you are looking for a really action-packed fantasy book with incredible magic and world building, then look no further than BLOOD OF HEIRS. You will find much to enjoy in this beautifully-written story. Alicia Wanstall-Burke is definitely a new author to watch. Get this debut book now, because it's a cracking good read!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tam

    Blood of Heirs was an amazing read. It’s the kind of book you can easily get consumed with and forget to put down. I would know, I finished it within 10 hours and I could probably spend a fair bit of time raving about it. It has some amazing moments: I laughed, I cheered, I cried, and I enjoyed every moment of it. Blood of Heirs follows two main characters: Ran, the son of a Duke who goes from failed commander to hero to outcast in the space of a day because he accidentally acquired some magical Blood of Heirs was an amazing read. It’s the kind of book you can easily get consumed with and forget to put down. I would know, I finished it within 10 hours and I could probably spend a fair bit of time raving about it. It has some amazing moments: I laughed, I cheered, I cried, and I enjoyed every moment of it. Blood of Heirs follows two main characters: Ran, the son of a Duke who goes from failed commander to hero to outcast in the space of a day because he accidentally acquired some magical powers. Whoops. The other main character, Lidan, is the daughter and heir to a clan chief. As her father has no sons, she’s in a position where she might be the first ever female clan chief and is constantly pushing to be taught how to be a ranger and how to fight. Both Ran and Lidan face interesting challenges as they upset the mould for how the heirs of their respective societies should be. Ran’s story is mostly a survival quest and we follow him as he tries to escape the noose that his sorcery has brought upon him. Meanwhile, Lidan faces challenges in her clan. Her mother is determined for her to be the heir, she’s the eldest daughter, but that might all change if one of the chief’s other wives births a son. Lidan must prove that she has what it takes to be the first female leader the clan has ever seen. Both characters are really compelling, and you can’t help but cheer them on. Another great thing in Blood of Heirs is the worldbuilding. Both MCs are in different parts of the world, with different social structures, and different levels of development. Ran’s duchy is quite advanced: it’s medieval era, with swords, siege weapons, and much more. Meanwhile, Lidan’s clan is the only one to have progressed beyond stone weapons, and even then they’ve only just been discovered and are fairly rare. What I really love about this is that the author shows that different areas of the world have different levels of technological advancement, something which I rarely see in my fantasy novels. Overall, I really loved Blood of Heirs and am excited for its release so I can make all my friends read it too. The only thing I didn’t like is that having an ARC meant there weren’t many people I could discuss events with. Would highly recommend it to people who enjoy: Epic Fantasy Dark Fantasy Compelling Characters Worldbuilding Forbidden magic If you enjoyed Blood of Heirs, I strongly recommend you check out Devin Madson's We Ride the Storm too. For more reviews, check out my blog, The Fantasy Inn

  9. 5 out of 5

    Queen Terrible Timy

    For my full review see Grimdark Magazine or Adrian's review. Blood of Heirs is an ambitious and promising debut novel by Australian author, Alicia Wanstall-Burke. I wasn't as amazed by it as others seem to be, but it's definitely worth your time. This is mainly because this book felt like a building up for the next book, the first leg of a really long journey. Enjoyable, but I couldn’t help but ask, “Are we there yet?” While getting to know the characters is important–and I really can’t say this For my full review see Grimdark Magazine or Adrian's review. Blood of Heirs is an ambitious and promising debut novel by Australian author, Alicia Wanstall-Burke. I wasn't as amazed by it as others seem to be, but it's definitely worth your time. This is mainly because this book felt like a building up for the next book, the first leg of a really long journey. Enjoyable, but I couldn’t help but ask, “Are we there yet?” While getting to know the characters is important–and I really can’t say this book was dragging at any point–I just didn’t feel it. However, I can see many reasons why people will love this one. It is weird because there is hardly a thing I can criticise otherwise. In the last 20% things quickly escalate and events happen at neck breaking speed, where I was unable to put the book down. Blood of Heirs is a promising debut fantasy novel by Alicia Wanstall-Burke which will appeal readers who like character-driven fantasy, a long journey full of danger and gritty fighting scenes.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Olivia

    In her debut, Alicia Wanstall-Burke forgoes creating epic conflicts and sprawling wars fought to defeat a dark lord and instead focuses on two young characters, their immediate family, and the social structures they live in. Despite the relatively small scope, Wanstall-Burke creates an exceptional emotional impact through her powerful characters and manages to capture the reader’s imagination from the very first chapter... Full review is up at Three Crows Magazine. In her debut, Alicia Wanstall-Burke forgoes creating epic conflicts and sprawling wars fought to defeat a dark lord and instead focuses on two young characters, their immediate family, and the social structures they live in. Despite the relatively small scope, Wanstall-Burke creates an exceptional emotional impact through her powerful characters and manages to capture the reader’s imagination from the very first chapter... Full review is up at Three Crows Magazine.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nils | nilsreviewsit

    ‘If those Woaden bastards want this city, they can come over that wall and pry it from our cold, dead fingers! Dark will be the day Orthia bends a knee to that seething horde of motherfuckers!’ Here’s my thoughts taken from our SPFBO review on The Fantasy Hive. The characters; I actually liked both characters right from the onset. Lidan and Ran both have cruel and overly ambitious parents who care more for status, or inheritance, than they do for the wellbeing of their children, so I felt sympathy ‘If those Woaden bastards want this city, they can come over that wall and pry it from our cold, dead fingers! Dark will be the day Orthia bends a knee to that seething horde of motherfuckers!’ Here’s my thoughts taken from our SPFBO review on The Fantasy Hive. The characters; I actually liked both characters right from the onset. Lidan and Ran both have cruel and overly ambitious parents who care more for status, or inheritance, than they do for the wellbeing of their children, so I felt sympathy towards both of them, and became invested in their journey. They both suffer, and that made me care for their plight. I was also very intrigued by two side characters - the old crone, and the ghost who follows Ran for most of the book. I did feel at times some characters made overly foolish decisions, that didn’t feel realistic. Such as Ran refusing to open a scroll that had the potential to fill him with knowledge he’d desperately been seeking. I also found Lidan’s overly horny, promiscuous father somewhat stereotypical, but I did admire his tenderness towards Lidan. The Plot; I was also interested right from the beginning. Especially as the story begins as a coming of age narrative, which I tend to enjoy. I also thought the prose was excellent, and it immersed me into the story immediately. However, I also found the fact that the two main protagonists never meet quite frustrating. I failed to see how they correlated together into the story. I wanted to know an inkling of how their stories may entwine, so by the end I felt unsatisfied. Nevertheless, I was invested in both the characters’ story arc. Although I agree that it wasn’t particularly a fresh story, it did follow the same patterns as many other fantasy books, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. There was enough to hold my interest. I particularly liked the scenes with the ngaru monsters, and loved the twist about their origins at the end. The World Building; I enjoyed the world-building, even though as I said above it doesn’t feel overly original. The world felt dark, cruel, and perilous, which made our main character’s plight all the more engaging. I’d like to know more about the Woaden empire, the other clans who have conflict with Lidan’s father, and about the magic which is kept quite a mystery. So overall I feel Burke does a great job of enticing a reader to continue with the series by leaving much open. Conclusion; I really enjoyed reading this book, although there were a few points in the plot that frustrated me, on the whole I was extremely engaged throughout. I am even curious to see where the story leads next.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Graham Austin-King

    Full review to come but for now I'll say this. Dark, stunningly well written, the best debut I've read in years. Full review to come but for now I'll say this. Dark, stunningly well written, the best debut I've read in years.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lukasz

    Blood of Heirs follows the parallel tales of Lidan Tolak and Ranoth Olseta, two teenagers whose lives don’t go as planned.  Lidan, the eldest of her father’s ten daughters, should become an heir. The only problem - she lives in a patriarchal society that disregards women. Lidan’s father wants a son, and one of his wives may finally fulfil his wish. Lidan’s mother is a maniac willing to do whatever she has to to preserve her daughter’s position.  Ranoth wants to impress his father, the duke, but ev Blood of Heirs follows the parallel tales of Lidan Tolak and Ranoth Olseta, two teenagers whose lives don’t go as planned.  Lidan, the eldest of her father’s ten daughters, should become an heir. The only problem - she lives in a patriarchal society that disregards women. Lidan’s father wants a son, and one of his wives may finally fulfil his wish. Lidan’s mother is a maniac willing to do whatever she has to to preserve her daughter’s position.  Ranoth wants to impress his father, the duke, but everything ends in disaster. When his latent magical abilities are triggered, his dad has no choice but to sentence him to death. Ran escapes his home with unexpected help, but his father’s soldiers pursue him wherever he runs.  It took me some time to relate to the characters. Lidan is confident, but she struggles with anxiety and self-doubt. Ran is scared and lonely and he’s doing his best not to die. Both are naïve and angsty and it usually tires me. They don’t lack complexity, but I don’t find them particularly interesting. But I want to see what happens to them next. The pacing feels uneven, but it rarely drags. Near the end, it becomes relentless. The ending is strong and opens many possibilities for the sequel. With its strong sense of character, solid world-building, and many plot twists and turns, Blood of Heirs should satisfy most dark fantasy fans. The well-developed cast of characters is an obvious strength; all are involved in their own respective journeys of self-discovery. 

  14. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    When loyalty to your family, community, and your own interests are at odds, every choice you make might not ever feel like the right choice. This predicament often rings true in positions of power. If you are an heir born to a family of import such as the ruling family of a tribe or the royal family of a kingdom, you are groomed for a leadership role since the moment of birth. Commitment to your community and upholding your family’s bloodline takes immediate precedence in your life, and your ind When loyalty to your family, community, and your own interests are at odds, every choice you make might not ever feel like the right choice. This predicament often rings true in positions of power. If you are an heir born to a family of import such as the ruling family of a tribe or the royal family of a kingdom, you are groomed for a leadership role since the moment of birth. Commitment to your community and upholding your family’s bloodline takes immediate precedence in your life, and your individuality and personal desires might as well be an afterthought. Now imagine having to take on those responsibilities as a twelve-year-old girl who aches to leave her village, or as a fifteen-year-old boy leading a troop on the front lines of an ancient war. These themes present a narrative rife with interesting ways to explore troubled characters. But when you add some adventure, cursed magic, ghosts, witches, and a healthy dose of murdering metal-clawed monsters, you find yourself reading Alicia Wanstall-Burke’s exciting debut Blood of Heirs, the first book of the The Coraidic Sagas. It is an arresting tale of loyalty and sacrifice that features challenging dilemmas, fierce characters and intense emotions. Blood of Heirs has a few neat tricks up its sleeve. There are two POVs in the story: Lidan, the twelve-year-old first daughter of the chief of a southern tribe, who yearns to ride and fight instead of being sheltered at home; and Ran, son of a war-weary duke who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and has his former life ripped away forever. With a title like ‘Blood of Heirs’ one would expect both children be thrust into their leadership roles early on, especially when both their fathers’ lives are severely threatened. But Wanstall-Burke takes the reader through some unexpected turns, and the book’s unpredictability ends up being one if its strongest assets. There were a couple aspects to the book that I wasn’t as big a fan of. The book reads like two entirely separate novellas that are almost completely unrelated to each other. There are some tangential relationships via a shared presence or a bit of common information, but other than that, they could have been two separate standalone stories without much editing needed. I get the sense that they’ll be intersecting as the trilogy continues, but I was expecting more than what we were given by the book’s end. Another item that stood out was that the intensity level of the emotions always seemed to be turned up to 11. Granted, the parents in this story are awful – and I do mean awful, just horrible people – it felt like every conversation with them was overwrought with tension, lip-biting-until-it-bleeds anxiety, white-knuckled icy glares, and the like. After a certain point, the dramatic peaks started to feel less powerful when there were no valleys to climb up from. But overall, this was a very enjoyable read, with good mysteries, weird creatures, ghosts, cursed magic, clan wars, siege battles, and a solid cast of supporting characters that keep things interesting as the chapters flew by. I got the sense that this first book was just setting the table before the real feast begins. How do I know? Because I’m already halfway through the sequel. 7.5 / 10

  15. 4 out of 5

    Anna Stephens

    I really enjoyed this novel, which is brilliantly imagined and depicted. The worldbuilding is easy but detailed - no infodumps here - with varied terrain, peoples and customs adding layers of complexity to the plot and narrative. Lidan and Ranoth are both likeable heroes, a little naive, but both eager only to do the right thing - not that that works out for them, of course! Separated by a vast mountain range and cultural differences that seem just as great, they are both cast into peril for ver I really enjoyed this novel, which is brilliantly imagined and depicted. The worldbuilding is easy but detailed - no infodumps here - with varied terrain, peoples and customs adding layers of complexity to the plot and narrative. Lidan and Ranoth are both likeable heroes, a little naive, but both eager only to do the right thing - not that that works out for them, of course! Separated by a vast mountain range and cultural differences that seem just as great, they are both cast into peril for very different reasons. Both heirs to their respective peoples, Lidan and Ran both face disinheritance and disgrace. Lidan must do all she can to prove herself a worthy successor to her father, despite her gender, while Ran's place as the future Duke is cast into doubt when he displays a terrifying, and outlawed, power. While many mysteries are revealed as Lidan and Ran grow and change through their adventures, more are sprung upon us in a climatic final few chapters of horror, violence and death. I cannot wait to find out what happens next! ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michael Fletcher

    Really enjoyed this first book and am looking forward to the sequel, LEGACY OF GOATS! Muahaha! Anyway. Good book, very well-written.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Esme

    I was actually recommended this by an author I really enjoy and saw some positive reviews on Goodreads for it as well. I was pretty stoked about this book even though I knew nothing about it, haha. This is a book with dueling POV’s, both of which are younger characters. Lidan is a 12 year old girl who’s the First Daughter of a clan chief known as the Daari. She’s one of 9 girls in the family she is technically the heir until her father has a son. Her father has four wives, but her mother is the F I was actually recommended this by an author I really enjoy and saw some positive reviews on Goodreads for it as well. I was pretty stoked about this book even though I knew nothing about it, haha. This is a book with dueling POV’s, both of which are younger characters. Lidan is a 12 year old girl who’s the First Daughter of a clan chief known as the Daari. She’s one of 9 girls in the family she is technically the heir until her father has a son. Her father has four wives, but her mother is the First Wife and that should mean that she has the most amount of influence in his life, but she doesn’t. He’s taken a liking to his fourth wife, Farah, and it’s causing marital distress. What’s even more distressing is that Farah is pregnant, and all the midwives believe it’s going to be a boy. Her mother believes that this could be extremely dangerous for Lidan and that Lidan may end up dead or outcast if Farah ends up having a son. Lidan and her mother have a very strange and strained relationship at the start, but it is clear that her mother cares for her and wants what’s best for her daughter. Lidan wants nothing more than to be a Ranger, she wants to ride a horse and go out with her father’s scouts. Her mother absolutely forbids this, and it’s the main cause of strife between them. Her mother has done a lot of work in the background carefully arranging things so that Lidan can stay the heir, up to and including poisoning the other wives that are believed to be carrying boys, causing a miscarriage. Lidan is finally let in on this secret, and she’s horrified. She begs her mother not to act, not to kill her brother because she’s certain that she will be able to prove herself a worthy heir, and convince her father to finally name her as heir regardless of the baby’s gender. Time is running out for her though, and to make things more complicated, strange monsters have been attacking her father’s ranging parties. The monsters look something like humans, but they’re warped, rotting, and extremely violent. I liked Lidan, I found her to be an easy character to root for once I got over the little bit of a cliche “I want to be a warrior but I’m a woman” trope. Those are used a lot so it’s gone a bit stale for me, but I liked the direction this one took – and I also just liked Lidan’s bones. She wants to do what’s right even if it means putting herself in danger. There were a few times I felt like her training was sped up a bit, she became very capable of wielding a blade at 12 years old in a pretty short time span – but it’s not like she was battling armies, just one on one stuff near the end. The other character, Ranoth, is a prince. He started out pretty unlikeable to me. He begged his father to let him take charge of a platoon of men at only 15 years old to defend a crucial hold for his army. This just screamed entitlement and over confidence and I was like “oh no, please don’t be one of those guys”. His father sits on rich land, and like clockwork, his rivals come to try and take over his realm to snatch his resources. Ranoth was supposed to defend the ruins, an essential holding for his father’s army, but was overrun and had to retreat. When the army doubled down back at his father’s fort, more troubles began when the opposing side brought a mage with them. Mages in this world are feared, they can go insane and wreak havoc on all those around them. They’re responsible for the scary stories mother’s tell their children at night, and those wielding magic are put to death. When one shows up at the gates it’s thought that all is lost. However, Ranoth is able to kill her by draining the magic out of her, extinguishing her life. The only way to do this is if you’re a mage yourself, so his ‘secret’ was found out, despite the fact that Ran himself didn’t know he was a mage. It was brought out of him by an ill-fated trip into a haunted ruin, and extreme stress from battle. His own father sentences him to death, finding no way out. As a leader, he has to follow his own laws if he’s expected to keep his seat in power. He can’t spare his son just because he loves him. Ran escapes with the help of his tutor and makes his way into the wilderness only to find the same monsters that Lidan is facing. While on the run with a bounty on his head he’s gravely injured and saved by a girl named Sasha, she’s a healer and takes him on as a patient. This part felt a bit rushed to me, within a couple weeks of “knowing” each other (Ran was unconscious for the better part of it due to injuries), she escapes with him after he’s found out again. It is explained later on why she was so trusting and willing to go along with him despite just having met, but at the moment I was like “why is she doing this?”. Even given the reason, helping a traitor and a mage could be a death sentence so I wasn’t totally sold on her motivations. I didn’t like Ran at the start, but he really did grow on me as the book went on, by the end I was fully behind him and just wanted him to succeed. These two POV’s never meet each other, and I still don’t know in what way these two stories will interconnect. I was waiting anxiously for it to happen the entire book, and for that reason, I felt a little frustrated. I think had I known that they weren’t going to intersect in this book I wouldn’t have been so antsy. So, sit down, and prepare yourself for just the beginning to what feels like an epic series. The world building in this was really neat, small bits of world-building were revealed throughout the book, leaving new things to be discovered and keep my interest piqued. There are gender roles in this world, but, women can become rangers and can be trained in sword fighting and map making. Lidan isn’t told she can’t be a Ranger because she’s a girl, she’s restricted because her mother doesn’t want her to be a Ranger. The wives still hold a moderate amount of power over their own lives and their children’s upbringing. That said, I’m glad I don’t live there. Women only inherit if there is no male heir, they can be matched without their consent – although it’s the mother’s choice and not the father’s. There are also women known as tine-women who are essentially slaves, they do menial labor and are subject to the Daari’s whims, they are expected to put up with the Daari’s sexual advances and sleep with him if he wants them. Just ick. I also thought the pacing of this was pretty excellent. The first 10% of the book was spent on Lidan before it switched over to Ran. I felt like I got to know her really well and the place where it cut off was a good stopping point to switch over, it didn’t feel jarring. Then I got 10% with Ran, a nice even distribution of POV’s – and it continued like that for most of the book. I was excited each time I switched back to the other POv because I was interested in what was going to happen to them. I don’t think I prefer one character over the other as I was equally invested in both of them – which is awesome. I got to know the world and the characters at the same time rather than being hit over the head with world building without getting to know the characters or knowing the characters and very little about the world. When that happens I tend to lose interest quickly. It was also adeptly done, without using infodumps or exposition, and didn’t throw you into the deep end and wait for you to figure it out for yourself. Balancing all of that at once and keeping it engaging can be difficult, but I think she nailed it. I loved getting small glimpses into magic and non-human creatures, it kept me wanting to see more of it while giving me just enough. At times I did feel like some of the twists were predictable, and sometimes these characters got away when they probably shouldn’t have. However, those are small quibbles and didn’t take away from my enjoyment. Although this is a coming of age story, it was not a YA – lots of ‘fucks’ in this one folks, a lot of cursing, and a bit of violence to boot 😀 There was also very little romance, so if you’re looking for epic fantasy without romance elements this one could be for you. Overall I enjoyed myself a lot, and I was sad to see it end, I’ll definitely be picking up the next in the series! Audience: dual pov coming of age magic is forbidden soft magic monsters once human Ratings: Plotting: 12.5/15 Characters: 13/15 World Building: 13/15 Writing: 12/15 Pacing: 12/15 Originality: 10/15 Personal Enjoyment: 7.5/10 Final Score: 80/100 – 4/5 stars – recommended!

  18. 4 out of 5

    The Nerd Book Review

    2.5. Blood of Heirs is a well written debut novel that was very entertaining by the end but that didn’t really capture my attention until somewhere around halfway through. Old me would have stopped reading by that point though. I also felt like the book was lacking a bit in depth and I would have liked more world building early on. I wasn’t sure for a long while if we were dealing with a secondary world or a post apocalyptic world. The book has 2 POV characters. The first is a girl named Lidan. 2.5. Blood of Heirs is a well written debut novel that was very entertaining by the end but that didn’t really capture my attention until somewhere around halfway through. Old me would have stopped reading by that point though. I also felt like the book was lacking a bit in depth and I would have liked more world building early on. I wasn’t sure for a long while if we were dealing with a secondary world or a post apocalyptic world. The book has 2 POV characters. The first is a girl named Lidan. She is the heir of her father’s clan but is in danger of being usurped by any boy that is born. Her clan seems to be very patriarchal and the clan chief at the least has 4 wives. She is eventually trained to become a ranger and learns to fight. I enjoyed her character but felt like her mother, who was supposed to be manipulating things for years to ensure Liddy stayed the heir, made some pretty obvious blunders and in a society as patriarchal as this one seems made a poor decision trying to stop her daughter from being a fighter for so long. The 2nd character is a boy named Ran who is a prince to start the book but who quickly has his world turn upside down and end up on the run from his father. His character didn’t feel as developed early on and I felt like I would have liked far more backstory on him in the early going. I think this is a book that younger readers would really enjoy and it is certainly well written it just didn’t grab me and make me want to read the 2nd book. One thing I will say though is that in some ways I felt the same way about Blackwing by Ed McDonald last year. I didn’t see what all of the fuss was about but an awful lot of people loved that book so I’m more than willing to say that maybe this one is just me.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Marielle

    Blood of Heirs was definitely my favorite book of our SPFBO batch! It has a good, balanced pace, is well written and takes place in an original world. We get to see two completely different parts of the world created and the words simply painted it to my mind’s eye. The two main characters are interesting, and both felt complete, but I must say I liked Lidan best. In my favorite scene of the book she gets to show just how badass she is (has become). It didn’t feel like a self-published book with i Blood of Heirs was definitely my favorite book of our SPFBO batch! It has a good, balanced pace, is well written and takes place in an original world. We get to see two completely different parts of the world created and the words simply painted it to my mind’s eye. The two main characters are interesting, and both felt complete, but I must say I liked Lidan best. In my favorite scene of the book she gets to show just how badass she is (has become). It didn’t feel like a self-published book with its gorgeous cover (by Pen Astridge I believe), beautiful map and overall formatting. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next in Legacy of Ghosts! (I already ordered it)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Allan Walsh

    Blood of Heirs by Alicia Wanstall-Burke is a debut fantasy novel that follows the separate paths of two protagonists in a dark and perilous world. For the purpose of full disclosure, Alicia is a part of my writers group. Due to circumstance however, I have only met her twice and this is the first time I have had the pleasure of reading her work. The Cover: This is a good cover for the genre. The image shouts fantasy, the colour hints at the underlying tone of the book, and the font is well contra Blood of Heirs by Alicia Wanstall-Burke is a debut fantasy novel that follows the separate paths of two protagonists in a dark and perilous world. For the purpose of full disclosure, Alicia is a part of my writers group. Due to circumstance however, I have only met her twice and this is the first time I have had the pleasure of reading her work. The Cover: This is a good cover for the genre. The image shouts fantasy, the colour hints at the underlying tone of the book, and the font is well contrasted and clear. The Good Stuff: This is a solid debut fantasy novel. The world is clearly defined and well-built with some nice touches that distinguish between the different cultures within the world. There are some formidable enemies, and as with any good fantasy there is a sound magic system. The characters are individual, well developed, and have their own distinct stories. The prose runs smoothly and I found there are some great quote-worthy passages within the pages. One I particularly liked was “His plan had to work. If it didn’t, he’d have the blood of thousands on his hands; such a stain would never wash clean.” The Bad Stuff: This is nit-picking, but there are a couple of minor inconsistencies that drew me out of the story. In chapter five they’ve been waiting for the snow, but it hasn’t come. Then we move to chapter seven and Ran’s mother queries if the snows have come early? There is also a mention in one sentence that Lidan has been studying her parents, but then a little further on we hear that she has been avoiding them. This had me thinking how she could study them if she was avoiding them? I also question a couple of the words choices, such as sofa – this seems too modern for the setting to me. Overall, having not read any of Alicia’s work prior to this book, I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy this story or not, but after chapter four I was hooked. The minor issues noted above did little to detract from my enjoyment of this book. It is a great fantasy novel, and while Lidan has a solid storyline, I really found myself drawn into Ran’s story. I’m giving this one a magic pulsing, steel slashing 4 out of 5 golden bookmarks with a deep guttural growl for good measure.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jason Aycock

    You know that feeling you get when you’ve read a book you thought you were going to like but it ended up being SO MUCH BETTER THAN YOU EVER EXPECTED? Yeah…that’s the feeling I had when I finished Blood of Heirs. Truth be told that’s the feeling I had while I was reading Blood of Heirs. If you don’t want to read the rest of this review and instead want a short take-away about the book know this; Blood of Heirs is a dark, page turning, coming of age, character driven novel packed with emotion, hea You know that feeling you get when you’ve read a book you thought you were going to like but it ended up being SO MUCH BETTER THAN YOU EVER EXPECTED? Yeah…that’s the feeling I had when I finished Blood of Heirs. Truth be told that’s the feeling I had while I was reading Blood of Heirs. If you don’t want to read the rest of this review and instead want a short take-away about the book know this; Blood of Heirs is a dark, page turning, coming of age, character driven novel packed with emotion, heart, and pain that never loses sight of hope. If you want to know more then read on… Wow. So where to begin? Well, I picked up Blood of Heirs because it’s a current Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (#SPFBO) finalist. Because of that I expected it to be good. I’d also seen some fellow bloggers I trust give it high praise. But I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did. It’s the kind of read that I really adore, one that still catches you by surprise even when you already expected good things. Blood of Heirs is very much a character driven story with its power and punch centered in them. There are two protagonists Lidan (Liddy), the daughter of the Daari of Hummel (think chieftain) and Ran, the son of the Duke of Usmein. Both are teens trying to find their place in a world where suddenly nothing is the way it was before. I found myself rooting and caring for these characters very early in the narrative. I was only a few chapters in and was invested in them, especially with Liddy. I wanted her to be a bad ass ranger queen and didn’t want anyone stopping her. Ran took a little longer to have that same emotional pull for me but not too long. The story is told from the alternating points of view of both Liddy and Ran. You’ll spend a few chapters with each before shifting focus to the to the other. This style and pacing works well as the characters get their hooks into you as you grow more and more attached to them, and you find yourself wanting to return to their narrative to see what happens next. I’ll admit I grew more attached to Liddy than Ran but there were times when Ran’s arc was more interesting and exciting. One reason for the latter was some of the secondary characters in Ran’s arc, such as Sasha, a healer he meets along his journey and a particular ghost girl who attaches to him. That ghost girl is creepy AF and mysterious to boot. I wanted the ghost girl to show up every time there was a shift back to Ran. And strangely enough I was emotionally attached to her as well. Wanstall-Burke’s writing was so very readable. I know that sounds kinda silly but what I mean is she writes a page turner. And not because it’s packed full of action (there IS action and it’s written very well, but it’s not an action book per se), but because her prose fits so well with the story being told and the characters she’s created that you don’t want to set the book down. I kept thinking to myself, “I can read just one more chapter before bed” and then three or four chapters later had to stop so I wouldn’t sleep through the alarm in the morning. I posted to Twitter about half-way through saying I was 52% done with the book and not done for the night and just wanted to scream “YES!!!” because…you know…I needed to scream YES!!! and to proclaim how much I wanted all the good things for Liddy. About three quarters of the way through I had to log on to state how anxious I was. And when I finished I yelled READ THIS BOOK and proclaimed Wantsall-Burke was now on my auto-buy list. Good writing makes for good reading. Interestingly enough the world building wasn’t super intricate on a grand scale. Instead it was more localized, focusing on the two regions where Liddy and Ran live. But within that framework the world becomes really intriguing. Liddy hails from a land where iron age weapons are outside the norm. In fact her father employs the only blacksmith among their people. They are more clannish living in villages rather than towns or cities and must fight off raids from neighboring peoples. Ran on the other hand comes from a region that fits more of the typical medieval setting. His land is one of towns and cities and castles and their struggle is with the mighty empire next door and large scale armies. The contrast between the two settings matches the contrast between the two characters well. Magic in this world is not something people look fondly upon. It surfaces within you when you are exposed to it. In Ran’s homeland if a child shows an affinity for magic they are sent away before it comes to the fore. If it appears once they are older they are executed (which becomes a problem for Ran). While the same extreme isn’t necessarily true for Liddy’s home, magic is still looked on askance and feared. In this volume the characters are really just figuring out their abilities and how it changes their lives. Blood of Heirs hits upon a handful of noteworthy themes and tropes and I’ll mention a few here. The first is that of a teen figuring out who they are and finding their way in a world with certain expectations. Especially those placed on them by their family. In this respect it’s a coming of age tale. Both Liddy and Ran struggle with this given their unique circumstances. Liddy hopes to be her father’s heir which isn’t something that ever happens for a female child, and Ran who was the presumptive heir has that long held future assumption yanked out from under him. As one character puts it to Liddy while talking about her mother’s expectations, “follow her, follow your father, or cut your own way.” That word “cut” covers some ground there too btw. I wouldn’t classify this as a YA novel even though this theme is typically YA. But it is central to the book and its characters. Something I really liked was how Wanstall-Burke handled the role of women in a traditional society. This is explored most fully in Liddy who wants desperately to be her father’s heir and be a ranger as well. But societal expectations and her mother’s controlling ways stand in the way of that. As she tries to prove herself she’s given a piece of advice that I absolutely loved which was, “show them you aren’t a toy or some pretty thing to be looked at and fought over.” As she tries to live into that advice big things happen. Something else that I thought was well done, though it may give some readers pause, was the effects of abuse. Again I turn to Liddy for the best example. Liddy’s character suffers from emotional and even physical abuse at the hands of her mother. And like many abuse victims Liddy finds herself trying to explain it away and justify it. Abuse isn’t praised or held up high in this book, indeed it is portrayed for what it is and for what it does to people. It may also be a little triggering for some readers. But I think it is handled well and it becomes a major aspect of character arc and development. There’s much more I haven’t covered in this review but I’m going long. For instance there’s monsters…scary, freaky, mutated monsters who are super hard to kill and figure prominently in the story. But in the interest of page space and time I’ll close out. Blood of Heirs is simply fantastic! It’s dark, and scary, and kept me on edge. It’s fresh, and exciting, and full of the feels. Again and again I’m finding great self-published fantasy that holds up to what you get from the big publishers and this one is no exception. I hope you love it as much as I did. I’ve already bought the next installment, Legacy of Ghosts and I can’t wait to read it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Julia Sarene

    I really loved this one! It started with a bang for my personal tastes - a female archer running. When running and archery are my hobbies! After that it felt a bit stereotype at first and I was wary of it would be "just one like the others". But the farther I got in the better it got. The world and characters grow and more and more things start to get added. This worked really well, as it gave me time to settle in a familiar world and then only bit by bit adding new stuff. I really enjoyed the fem I really loved this one! It started with a bang for my personal tastes - a female archer running. When running and archery are my hobbies! After that it felt a bit stereotype at first and I was wary of it would be "just one like the others". But the farther I got in the better it got. The world and characters grow and more and more things start to get added. This worked really well, as it gave me time to settle in a familiar world and then only bit by bit adding new stuff. I really enjoyed the female POV right from the start - the male one took me quite a while to care about. On the end I was glued to the pages to learn what happens to both of them! This one is also our finalists for the SPFBO on fantasy faction!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    Review originally posted at Thoughts Stained With Ink: Thanks for stopping by to check out another review of one of the finalists for SPFBO 5! It is my last finalist review for SPFBO 5 and I do apologize that it came a day later than promised and is a bit shorter than intended. I've caught a case of the stomach flu or food poisoning or something that just sucks and makes it really hard to not curl up in a ball and collapse, so that's why this review is not as in-depth as I wanted. I apologize! Ove Review originally posted at Thoughts Stained With Ink: Thanks for stopping by to check out another review of one of the finalists for SPFBO 5! It is my last finalist review for SPFBO 5 and I do apologize that it came a day later than promised and is a bit shorter than intended. I've caught a case of the stomach flu or food poisoning or something that just sucks and makes it really hard to not curl up in a ball and collapse, so that's why this review is not as in-depth as I wanted. I apologize! Overall, I LOVED Blood of Heirs. It was just so, so good. Strengths The Writing It was just so crisp, so clean, so easy to visualize. *chef's kiss* The Characters I really got attached to some characters and hated others. I absolutely loved Lidan and felt for Ran. I hated Lidan's mother (I'm sorry, I just couldn't). And I just thought they were really fleshed out and well done. The Nostalgia This one I can't really explain, but just reading this novel gave me such a sense of classical fantasy nostalgia. I'm not sure exactly what made me feel like I just curled up with a book that I'd read from my childhood, but it just had this sense of home, like this book was just written for me. I dunno how to explain it, but I loved it. Weaknesses Length between POVS This is completely personal and didn't really take away from my enjoyment of the novel at all, but I think the length between Lidan's POV and Ran's POV could have been shortened just a tad, just so I didn't forget what was happening in the previous POV when we jump back in (this only happened once and was after I had to take a break from reading for a day to continue emptying the contents of my very soul, so it's a very minute thing). In sum, I thought Blood of Heirs has completely earned it's high praise and I, for one, am completely and utterly STOKED to read the sequel. I *need* it. I rate this book 4 gems out of five, 4 stars on Goodreads and a 9 out of 10 for the purpose of SPFBO.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer (bunnyreads)

    This one is hard to summarize as it’s quite character heavy- we spend a lot of time getting to know our leads and building their place in this world. There are hints of a bigger over-reaching plot in the background that doesn’t really start to come into play until towards the end, but when it does, it’s with a bang, guaranteeing you will want to come back for the next book. There are two main characters; at this point their stories are completely separate, only connected through their dealing wit This one is hard to summarize as it’s quite character heavy- we spend a lot of time getting to know our leads and building their place in this world. There are hints of a bigger over-reaching plot in the background that doesn’t really start to come into play until towards the end, but when it does, it’s with a bang, guaranteeing you will want to come back for the next book. There are two main characters; at this point their stories are completely separate, only connected through their dealing with the Ngaru- which is what Lidan’s people are calling the humanoid creatures that are killing their tribesman. Lidan - Erlon Tolak’s oldest daughter and currently heir to the clan, as there are no sons. She’s stubborn, prideful, and smart. Her sections are full clan politics and learning to use her weapons etc. They’re never boring and we get a lot of insight into the world she lives in through her. Lidan wants to inherit the rulership desperately- mostly for the freedom she thinks it will give her by allowing her to ride out with the Rangers. But if a son is born to her second mother, she will lose that opportunity and she, her mother, and her sisters, will lose any status privilege they have from Lidan being first born female. Her mother Sellan, is a piece of work. She has plans and isn’t willing to give up the position Lidan’s birth position has afforded her. I found her abusive and awful, which I am sure was the point. I had a hard time connecting to Lidan. The biggest stumbling block being Lidan’s age, she seemed way older even with the societal aging that growing up in this environment may have given her. I usually give allowance for YA and pushing the boundaries of what could pass at 16, but at 12, it was a big leap for me. Especially for certain things, like the scene that took place during the Corron or breaking a horse (even a smaller horse) or her understanding the motivations behind her mother’s viciousness. Ranoth Olseta (Ran)- Heir to the Duke Ronart is our second pov. He’s a little bit spoiled and thinks highly of himself- that chip gets knocked off his shoulder fairly quickly. His sections are fun because he is in danger, fending for himself while on the run and there is a bit of mystery involved with his magic and an event that explains why its use is forbidden. When we first meet Ranoth, he and his company of men, have taken a heavy blow to their position with the loss of a key hill in their battle against The Woaden army. This loss causes things to domino, ending with Ran in charge of the city’s defenses while his father is in the field. Unfortunately for Ran, the Woaden army comes and with it, a Mage. This battle for survival triggers the magic in Ran, saving his life. Which sounds like a good thing, but really, is not good for Ran at all; magic is illegal in Orthian, and a death sentence if you’re caught practicing. Again, I had an issue with the age, at 15 he is a little older than Lidan, so I could roll with the probability of some of his actions a lot easier. But there were a few things- like that any soldier would follow him unseasoned to hold at an important piece of land much less be allowed to lead it in the first place that were a little harder for me to swallow. This really is a coming into your own story for both these kids. Both Lidan and Ran, can be considered privileged because of their higher-up positions in their families and in the community. The reality is that their responsibilities as heirs certainly doesn’t always give them the freedom or the best options you would think, sometimes forcing them into choices and to grow up even faster in a world that doesn’t give much leeway to children in the first place. *** There were just a few minor issues for me- times when I felt information was held to keep the reveals for later (why didn’t Ran read the scroll sooner?), things that could have been explained better, places that leaped a little in logic (the conclusions that were drawn about the Chief/son at the Corron) and of course, the biggest one for me- the ages. This definitely has a first book feel- where the bulk of the book was building to a conclusion that opens up possibilities and the world and being that it is very character heavy, the pacing felt a little up and down. This didn’t bother me that much though because the characters were involving, so my interest in this story was always at a high. I never once didn’t want to come back and find out how things played out. Which is saying a lot about the potential of future stories, when my biggest complaint was that the kids need to be a couple years older.  Quick and fun read, I enjoyed it. 7.3/10 Go here to find out more about SPFBO contest and to find links to all the participating bloggers/authors and reviews. https://mark---lawrence.blogspot.com/... Scoreboard - https://mark---lawrence.blogspot.com/... Go here for more team reviews. https://starlitbook.com/2020/03/13/bl...

  25. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Mitchell

    What a great debut novel, it had everything you could want. Good characters, mystery, suspense, emotional impact. Yes i shed a tear reading this book. It had an easy style to it that made it a joy to read. And most importantly it makes you want to read the next book. Which i shall do in due time.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Para (wanderer)

    The ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. Blood of Heirs was a very pleasant surprise. I needed a quick read, something that wouldn’t take me weeks to finish and boy has this book delivered. He was no different to the rabbit, no different to any game animal pursued through the woods, whether for sustenance or pleasure. He was as hunted as that rabbit, and he’d turned his power on it, despite his already superior strength. What might he do if his pursuer cornered him the w The ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. Blood of Heirs was a very pleasant surprise. I needed a quick read, something that wouldn’t take me weeks to finish and boy has this book delivered. He was no different to the rabbit, no different to any game animal pursued through the woods, whether for sustenance or pleasure. He was as hunted as that rabbit, and he’d turned his power on it, despite his already superior strength. What might he do if his pursuer cornered him the way he’d cornered the rabbit? Was it only a matter of time before the walls closed in and the escape routes vanished, only a matter of time before his father’s men tracked him to a dark corner and he too stared at his death without the power to run? The book follows two characters. Lidan is the heir of a clan chief (or daari, as they’re called) without any sons. She wants nothing more than to be trained as a ranger, ride horses, learn to fight, but her mother won’t let her, saying it’s too dangerous for a heir…then things get a lot more complicated. Ran is the son and heir of a duke. He saves his city from disaster, but in the process, his magic is discovered and he is forced to run for his life. Their stories so far don’t converge, but I imagine they might in the sequel. In itself, the plot is nothing revolutionary. Rebellious daughters and persecuted mages are nothing we haven’t seen before. However, it’s executed incredibly well. I found it to be a smooth, fast read, devouring it in about two days. The prose for the most part flows well (there is a bit of repetition involving bile rising in a character’s throat at the start, but it gets better), the chapters are relatively short, and I found both POV characters to be equally interesting and likable. Though both protagonists are fairly young (12 and 15 respectively), it’s a fairly dark book. Lidan’s parents are abusive towards her and each other, there are monsters, and houses full of corpses. The worldbuilding is also quite interesting - the duchies are at the standard fantasy medieval level of development, but the clans still use stone tools for the most part. Bronze weapons are uncommon and valuable, iron and steel so rare to be nearly unheard of. I liked the coexistence of both. All in all, can’t wait for the sequel. Enjoyment: 4/5 Execution: 4/5 Recommended to: anyone in need of a quick read, fans of dark fantasy, those looking for younger protagonists and fresh takes on old tropes Not recommended to: those who don’t want to read about abuse More reviews on my blog, To Other Worlds.

  27. 5 out of 5

    S A M | The Book in Hand

    Blood Heir is a promising debut and sets itself up for a darkly entertaining second book. I enjoyed reading Blood Heir due to the amazingly beautiful writing style that is Alicia Wanstall Burkes and the great characters, but I did find myself wondering where the story was going. The beasts, magic/curse, ghosts and monster are all greatly entertaining and really bring the world to life. Both Lidan and Ranoth were great characters and I enjoyed their journeys, though both did fall flat at times fo Blood Heir is a promising debut and sets itself up for a darkly entertaining second book. I enjoyed reading Blood Heir due to the amazingly beautiful writing style that is Alicia Wanstall Burkes and the great characters, but I did find myself wondering where the story was going. The beasts, magic/curse, ghosts and monster are all greatly entertaining and really bring the world to life. Both Lidan and Ranoth were great characters and I enjoyed their journeys, though both did fall flat at times for me. Thankfully, when I found myself wanting more or getting a little bored the POV changed and the pacing shifted, balancing it out nicely. Wanstall Burke also did amazing to create complex and well developed secondary characters. Sellan and Erlon were great, as we're Ran’s ghost friend and, although a small part, Brit. At times I did feel like the two POVs were too separate, they felt worlds apart and totally disconnected. Having read the first installment I am still yet to see the bigger picture. To me this book felt more like a build-up to the second book as a lot, if not everything, is left unanswered. I will definitely read the second book as Wanstall Burkes makes it difficult not too. This is definitely a character-driven, we see Lidan and Ranoth deal with their own problems and emotional turmoil. Both characters worlds are turned upside down and each is faced with a worldwide of emotional and a need to decide who and what they want. I'm in the minority here by rating this a 3.5, I did enjoy Blood Heir and I am intrigued to read the next book but I found the plot to be a little stale, which is silly because so much happened. I dont know, it didn't feel like it had a build up or a climax, and because of that it felt a little stale. Though, that is my only issue really, everything else about this book is brilliant. I definitely think my overall rating will increase once I have read the second installment and understand the story better and see where it indeed ends.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Justine

    'We all have ghosts who walk in our shadows, Ran. Just happens some are louder than others.' Blood of Heirs is Alicia Wanstall-Burke's stunning Dark Epic Fantasy debut brimming with warring nations and abhorrent horrors lurking beneath the dense forest canopy. At its heart, it's a tale of the everlasting battle between duty and forging your own path, set in a rich world where tradition and obligation take precedence. Following the lives of two young protagonists, readers are swept away on a j 'We all have ghosts who walk in our shadows, Ran. Just happens some are louder than others.' Blood of Heirs is Alicia Wanstall-Burke's stunning Dark Epic Fantasy debut brimming with warring nations and abhorrent horrors lurking beneath the dense forest canopy. At its heart, it's a tale of the everlasting battle between duty and forging your own path, set in a rich world where tradition and obligation take precedence. Following the lives of two young protagonists, readers are swept away on a journey drenched in destructive magic, dangerous mysteries, and lots and lots of grisly bloodshed. I went into this book with high expectations, all of which were not only met, but exceeded. There's something special in the making here, and I'm excited to witness it unfurl. This is the epitome of a character-driven tale, which transforms this sprawling epic into a highly personal coming-of-age story. We're introduced to Lidan Tolak, the eldest daughter and heir of the Daari of the Tolak clan, and Ranoth Olseta, son and heir of Duke Ronart, through the use of alternating points of view. Where many stories risk falling flat using this technique, Blood of Heirs excels, presenting three to five chapter chunks dedicated to each at one time, allowing for better understanding and deeper connection to these finely crafted characters. Motivations and desires are clearly introduced, then carefully built upon as the story progresses, allowing readers to witness their evolution as their surroundings affect them. With how dark of a tale this is, it's too easy to feel the strain of the hardships placed upon their young shoulders, things no child should ever be forced to endure. 'People fear what they don't understand and hate what they can't control.' Readers are transported into a world of unrest, with enigmatic foes breaching borders and superstitions that define the very fabric of society. The two threads of this story are not apparently connected, but there's always a feeling that there's an underlying something that will cause them to converge. This book is an exquisite introduction into the universe the author has created, portraying different nations and the specific issues they face, giving readers a glimpse of what’s to come, and leaving the curious craving more. We're not overwhelmed with an abundance of details, but instead presented with bits and pieces of a rich history along with the young leads. I thoroughly appreciated this, as I always find the learning curve of a new series a bit daunting, wallowing in my ignorance. This pilgrimage for the truth alongside Lidan and Ran was among my favorite aspects of this story. Let's talk about the writing itself for a moment. I'm still finding it difficult to believe this is a debut novel. Polished prose and well-thought plotting make this story a treat to read. I will admit I had a tough time initially getting into the narrative, waiting for the over-arching plot to reveal itself, but when it happens…it happens with a bang. Dripping with delicious tension–war, horrors, family dynamics, uncertainty, self-doubt–the pages kept swiftly turning just so I could see what would happen next. I was so engulfed in this superbly penned story that I read this book in two sittings. Palpable, visceral action scenes, and highly emotional moments of utter despair bring this dark tale to life in ways one would expect to witness from seasoned authors. If this is just the beginning, I'm very much looking forward to what the future holds for Wanstall-Burke. Blood of Heirs has been on my radar for quite some time, and I'm thrilled I've finally gotten a chance to give it a read. A devastatingly beautiful debut, Wanstall-Burke is chiseling her way into the literary world with a story that's unafraid to venture into the darkest corners of fantasy. It comes to a satisfying end, leaving readers teetering on the precipice of something extraordinary, and I cannot wait to discover what that something is. I highly recommend. Note: A complementary copy of this title was provided to be reviewed for the SPFBO 2019 finals. -- See this review and others at Whispers & Wonder Twitter • Instagram • Facebook

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    3.5★ I wasn’t expecting to like this as much as I did! I’m not normally a fantasy reader, although I don’t mind a bit of time travel occasionally. I read this because a friend picked it - and I am glad I did read it! I enjoyed the setting of this story - it felt olde-world-ish, I felt sorry for both the main characters and the difficult families they were born into. I felt as though some of the magic was a bit over-the-top at first, although I know that was kind of the idea! I did get accustomed to 3.5★ I wasn’t expecting to like this as much as I did! I’m not normally a fantasy reader, although I don’t mind a bit of time travel occasionally. I read this because a friend picked it - and I am glad I did read it! I enjoyed the setting of this story - it felt olde-world-ish, I felt sorry for both the main characters and the difficult families they were born into. I felt as though some of the magic was a bit over-the-top at first, although I know that was kind of the idea! I did get accustomed to it. But my main complaint about the story is that it isn’t a whole book!!! We get to the end with questions unresolved! That always annoys me a little - although you could make the argument that it’s less daunting than having a whole book that’s double the size!! Anyway, I’ll now have to read the next book!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Here we have two stories running parallel to one another–the story of Lidan, a young girl trying to gain recognition so as to be appointed her father’s official heir, and Ranoth, a young prince trying to live up to his father’s expectations as heir. Their stories are quite different, they live in different countries with vastly different cultures, and yet they have some things in common that they are dealing with. Mainly proving themselves to their parents in some way. There’s also a mysterious Here we have two stories running parallel to one another–the story of Lidan, a young girl trying to gain recognition so as to be appointed her father’s official heir, and Ranoth, a young prince trying to live up to his father’s expectations as heir. Their stories are quite different, they live in different countries with vastly different cultures, and yet they have some things in common that they are dealing with. Mainly proving themselves to their parents in some way. There’s also a mysterious creature that comes into play with both story lines. I really loved this book! We’re very firmly in our two protagonist’s heads here. We get to know them, their cultures, their hopes, and their fears. I’m a ‘character’ reader for the most part, there’s not much more I love than being able to connect with characters while I’m reading, and that was pretty easy to do here with both Lidan and Ranoth. One thing I loved about both of them is that they’re essentially good people. They don’t want to hurt others. They have doubts and guilt when they’re forced to act against their better judgement. They’re also both learning a lot about themselves and dealing with transitioning from childhood into adulthood, taking on new roles and responsibilities. In the beginning it was a little harder to connect at first because they were both dealing with their doubts and how they wanted different things for themselves. But once I got to know them a little better that connection formed and remained firm for the rest of the story. There are a lot of family dynamics and politics, more so on Lidan’s end than Ranoth’s, but both definitely come into play in his story as well. With Lidan’s family structure there is a lot of vying for power. So there are all these internal issues, the doubts and hopes and such, the characters are dealing with and then outside forces like the parental expectations and then on top of that there are additional threats that are on a much bigger scale–people out for power, creatures attacking, empires trying to invade, etc. Now that I think about it, there’s a lot going on in this book, but it’s all layered well and the structure of the book makes it easy to keep track of things between the dual story lines. Other than the main characters, I appreciated the attention paid to the rest of the characters in the story as well. Everyone was shades of gray, each having their own motivations propelling their actions. Other than the creatures, there were no real ‘bad guys’. Sure, some of the characters do bad things, and because we’re seeing them through the eyes of our main characters they may at times feel like ‘the bad guy’, but then they’ll also go and do good things and you really can’t point a finger and say that they’re some kind of evil person. I really loved how these characters were written. You understand why they are doing what they do. It made the story feel a lot more nuanced. The worldbuilding in this was pretty good. I like the cultures we’re seeing here, and while they do feel somewhat familiar, they also have their own unique flavors. I enjoy that it’s not just one kind of people we’re exposed to. I want to know even more about this world, the ever looming empire, and what’s in between the two worlds we get to see. Overall, I enjoyed Blood of Heirs a lot. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of this series in the future. 4.5/5 stars. Many thanks to the author for providing a copy for review, this did not affect my review in ny way.

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