Monday, March 24, 2014

Full Blood Half-Breed by Cleve Lamison

The Basics:
Full-Blood Half-Breed by Cleve Lamison
Published March 11, 2014
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Why I picked up this book:

I've enjoyed a number of books put out by Angry Robot in the last couple years, and I liked the idea of MMA in a fantasy setting, which is kind of how I interpreted the blurb combined with the cover.


In Cleve Lamison’s hard-hitting debut, two young men divided by an intense hatred—yet marked with a common destiny—have the power to save the world . . . or destroy it.
It’s been two thousand years since the bastard spawn of the god Creador lost their war to enslave humankind, transforming the Thirteen Kingdoms into a violent world where the martial arts are exalted as sacred gifts from the gods—and honor is won through arena blood sport.
Paladin Del Darkdrag√≥n, a sixteen-year-old warrior-in-training, is a “half-breed.” His battle against pure-blood bullies like Fox the Runt has forced him to master the four fighting forms. But when he blends them, he is condemned as a heretic by authorities and banished from the training temples. Seeking redemption, he enrolls in the arena games, savage trials that end in death.
This year’s games mask an old plot driven by a new prophet. With a horde of Creador’s Bastards and an army of fanatics led by Fox the Runt at his command, the Prophet will bend the world to his will or burn it to ash.
Paladin faces an impossible choice: redeem his honor in a fight he can’t hope to survive, or abandon his loved ones to perish in the sweeping holy war consuming the Kingdoms.

My thoughts:

Full-Blood Half-Breed is an excellent novel about race, religion, becoming a man and martial arts, all within a fantasy setting.

In this universe, pure breeds are valued about mixed blood individuals. Religion is divided into the worship of one of several gods/goddesses in a pantheon, or else belief in a single god, with all others as condemned souls. There's an emphasis on purity here as well, as each god/goddess has a martial art that must be practiced alone as part of worship. 

When Paladin, a quarter breed, as it happens, decides to honor all of his heritage and blend the martial arts into a (superior) single form, he risks everything. But this sixteen-year-old can't understand how it could be anything other than faithful to practice his unique, multi-god honouring art. 

This struggle, for Paladin to make a niche in the world, to win people over, doesn't even scratch the surface of what's happening in this book. Paladin's also got parent troubles - when he enters Torneo, to defend his honour, 
his parents *freak out* because they've forbidden it.

Paladin is relentlessly endearing as he tries to do the right thing, all the while kicking butt. His world is falling apart around him, and he clings to his own moral code. I really want to know what happens next for this young man!

Alongside Paladin, nearly all the rest of the narration is from Fox the Runt's perspective. At first, I wanted to feel sympathy for this little guy. He's had a hard life, being undersized and unloved by his family. While he's channeled all of that into becoming an excellent fighter, he's also soured on... people, really. I really wanted there to be some redeeming element to his personality, and I think, truly, that the earnestness with which he clings to scraps of affection and approval... they nearly, nearly had me forgiving his many misteps. 

The action in this book is awesome. The threats are intense and really, if there had been much more layered on, I think the book might have gotten depressing with all the odds stacked against our hero. 

There's definitely some serious messages conveyed in the book, and they might grate a little if the book paused long enough to dwell on them. I also found the use of the occasional Spanish (I'm assuming) word a little tiresome. I didn't really see good reasons for there to be these glaringly different (italicised!) words within the context of this world other than to emphasize the existence of different cultures within the city. 

Bottom line:

I strongly recommend this one. If you're looking for an entry into fantasy with a strong action component, this is your book. I can only hope a sequel is published quickly!

4.5 stars
For fans of action-fantasy, arena battles, coming of age stories

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a fun read. I have been reading a lot of political SF&F books recently. I need a little bit more action.