Alexander Darwin decides to change his approach up when writing the highly anticipated sequel in his martial arts trilogy. Instead of focusing primarily on Cego and Murray as we saw in Combat Codes, Darwin expands his POV characters to include Solara and The Slayer. It is always a challenge to introduce new characters especially when moving from a one or two person POV story. I’m excited to say that the new additions were well developed, intriguing, and in some ways frightful. They brought a sense of suspense to the story and I can’t wait to see how the series will conclude. This will be a spoiler free review, but I will be referencing events that have taken place in Combat Codes.
Grievar’s Blood takes place about two years following the conclusion of Combat Codes. Cego and his friends are entering their second year at the Lyceum, where they are training to become Grievar’s. Instead on focusing on his martial art skills, Cego is tormented by his past memories and his two missing brothers. This will eventually lead Cego down a dark path of discoveries where there will be no turning back. Solara is on a mission not to discover her past but to bury it. She finds herself in unknown lands where evil is lurking in the shadows and she must lean on the lessons of her father in order to survive.
Grievar’s Blood is more focused on politics, the search for power, and the combat scenes take a little bit of a back seat compared to book one. I found this to be a little bit of a let down at first, but the fight scenes we do see are much more impactful and I only wanted more. Call me greedy but I love a good old sparing match. We also learn so much more about the Daimyo and what their ultimate plans are!
Alexander Darwin has definitely taken great strides as a writer between his first two books. The plot threads are starting to converge in a very smooth and unique way where nothing seems forced. The characters feel real to me in every possible way regardless of the circumstances. There is a multi-chapter trial scene in the middle chapters that had me so riveted that I thought I was watching this fight in real time. You will not be able to put down the final 20% of this book down and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store. Not only for this series, but Alexander Darwin’s young career as well!