Review: Blood Ties by Pamela Freeman (Orbit)

Blood Ties by Pamela Freeman (Orbit)

I’ve been thinking about reading Blood Ties for some time. Pamela Freeman has been popping up on this blog and others for a little while now. Not in a buy-my-book-way but in a I-love-reading-and-thought-I’d-pop-by-way. But that attention by an author can make a reviewer a bit uncomfortable as it makes an emotional connection between the reader, the work and the author that might taint a review. Thankfully I needn’t have worried too much as Blood Ties is a strong addition to the fantasy cannon.

That’s not to say that it isn’t without in its problems. There are a few quirks, which I’ll get to but before I do I have to say that this is one of the most enjoyable fantasy books I’ve read in a while. The reason is that there is a sense that not only does Pamela have a plan, but it’s a good one.
The other thing that makes this a strong story are characters and their connection which is pretty much given away in the title, blood. They’re all Travellers, the original inhabitants of the Eleven Domains before before Acton and his people displaced and killed their ancestors before they were forced to become travel the Road.

We follow Bramble, Ash and Saker. Each has a calling in this story. We get some quite big hints nut I have a feeling that there is much more yet to reveal. We follow their journey and find out more about them and the people that they meet along the way. This isn’t as stiff as it sounds. For the most part who they encounter and what they do moves the story on and is down with a big breath of life.

Though one of the problems is that each character isn’t created equally and they don’t get the same amount of screen time. There is a point where I think that Pamela overindulges herself in Bramble’s story but I suspect that Bramble is Pamela’s favourite character and she probably shares Brambles connection to horses. It’s not a bad thing as such but it does slow the pace a little too much.

But each of the characters stories has its own importance and is a vital piece in the puzzle Each is three dimension and has a life of their own even if they are being guided by the gods.

Yep, I said the g-world and the gods in Blood Ties are tangible. Their presence can be felt and their influence is real as each of the characters is slowly finding out.

I really liked the development of Ash and how he grows and the choices he makes. Not bad for someone we first meet killing someone else in cold blood.

The only enigma is Saker but then he is on a journey of discovery and the reader discovers as he journeys. Each of their stories is entwined more and more as it goes along as comes together a lot more towards the end.

We also get snippets, almost small stories, of the lives of the minor characters, something that could be distracting but somehow it makes everything sharper and enhances the story.

There are wonderful little twists that I’d spoil by saying more but it shows that little seeds are being sown all the time. As with all first books in a trilogy the ending is only the beginning.

Overall, Blood Ties is a slightly flawed but highly readable and enjoyable start to a trilogy. I’m looking forward to Dark Water Deep Water, and that title gives me goose pimples.

Published 05 June 2008

Review Copy

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